Here’s how mine went. Recently, I was slated to do a major presentation for a
new client. Since my first presentation for this client had gone well, I thought
the second one would be even better. This time I had an even clearer of idea of
what they wanted. As is my practice, I made sure to arrive early; it’s always
nice to feel calm and collected, have time to set up and so on.
Having checked all details regarding location, time, etc. of the presentation
before I left, I was sure I knew exactly where I was going. But when I arrived
at the room assigned to me, I discovered the presentation had been moved. And no
one seemed to know the new location. I was left running around — up to the
14th floor, down to the 11th, making multiple phone calls and firing off emails.
All the while, time was ticking down to the start of my presentation.
Fortunately, I connected with someone who knew the new location. But, it wasn’t
just another room; it was an entirely different building, though thankfully only
minutes away. It was a challenge to maintain a sense of “calm and collectedness”
as I jogged over as fast as my high heels would allow. Then, to add to my
stress, I discovered, once I was there, that my Power Point presentation would
not work (for technical reasons beyond my control).
Before you burst into tears; stamp your foot while toweling off your sweaty,
anxious face, or give up, stop and take a deep breath and then follow these tips
for performing under pressure:
Be mentally prepared The fact is, anything can go off plan
during a presentation. “Expect the unexpected” should be one of your mantras.
The only way to handle curve balls is by being mentally prepared for what you
can control. Even though I would have preferred making my presentation
with the aid of the Power Point visuals, I had no problem doing it without them.
I knew the content, virtually by heart.
Improvise Having taught in a classroom for years, as well as
working as a business presenter, I’ve learned how important it is to go with the
flow. Even if you don’t have this type of professional experience, there are
plenty of daily life activities on which to draw to help you think faster on
your feet. Imagine, for example, you’re at a dinner party. The stranger across
the table says something to you that catches you by surprise. You take a moment;
then respond. You move the conversation forward, in the way you see fit. This is
what happens in any pressured circumstance. You advance the situation so that
the tension eases or a solution presents itself. One of the keys to
improvisation, as CNN’s Real Simple Life Coach, Gail Blanke points
out, is to simply always think of adding something new to the
Trust your instincts That first thought that comes to mind
is usually your best one. And if isn’t, move on to the next idea. Responding to
your gut instinct and speaking up will help avoid “brain freeze.” And don’t be
too hard on yourself if you do come up blank. We’re all overcome with nerves at
some point. Divert your mental energy to another person, or to the situation –
anything other than thinking about yourself and your tongue-tied moment!