“On belay…Belay on!” If you’ve ever taken rock or wall climbing lessons, you are familiar with this call and response. Belaying refers to a variety of techniques climbers use to communicate and keep each other safe during a climb. When the lower climber (AKA the belayer) has secured the rope, she calls up, “On belay”—my translation: “I’ve got your back. You’re good to go.” The higher climber then responds, “Belay on” before moving to the next hand or foothold.
Even for executives accustomed to delivering a presentation to hundreds, or even thousands, of people, speaking on camera can be an unexpected challenge. What looks comfortable and confident on a stage can appear stiff and lifeless on video. It’s important to master this skill, because speaking in this video-driven world with poise and authenticity is essential for taking advantage of an ever-increasing variety of communication platforms, from webinars and virtual meetings to promotional videos.
If you’re a business leader, chances are you get invited to webinars at least weekly. This is not surprising, since the medium offers the chance to reach both broad and targeted audiences to educate, establish thought leadership, build brand awareness or generate sales leads. The problem is, so many webinars turn out to be disappointing. Why? The content doesn’t deliver on the promise, the technology is poorly managed, or the delivery is far from compelling.
If you’re like most business people, technology has become an integral part of your presentations. While your audio and visual aids undoubtedly add value for your audience and make it easier for them to quickly understand your message, there’s a downside to relying on technology.
When your company has the opportunity to pitch for a really big piece of new business, the stakes are as high as they get for your sales team. Yet many organizations squander those opportunities by failing to properly prepare for the pitch “team” presentation. Each speaker tends to develop his or her own part in a silo. Members of the sales team might not even have the chance to hear one another before the big day. As a result, you lack a cohesive message, you repeat yourselves, and you might even contradict one another. The prospect can’t help but think you don’t have your act together.
Author and business innovation expert Melissa Kennedy recently completed a feat that would make many shudder: she gave 29 business presentations in a period of 30 days. Whew! That’s a monumental challenge, but as you might guess, one that yielded phenomenal results.
As a business professional, do you frequently face situations where you need to “say a few words” without time to prepare? It might be a meeting, conference call or request to fill in for another speaker, to name just a few scenarios. For many, these situations can induce more anxiety than making a prepared presentation. As a result, you may find yourself rambling, filling your sentences with “ums” or, in the worst case, completely drawing a blank. When that happens, both your point and your credibility are in jeopardy.
Whether you’re facing your first presentation opportunity or your fiftieth, chances are you will experience some level of apprehension. Even seasoned professionals who have been presenting for many years (your truly included!) have to manage their nerves leading up to the event.
Have you ever received a pivotal piece of advice that changed your thinking, influenced your actions and helped you succeed? “Aha” moments like these frequently come from tuning into the wisdom of our colleagues. If you’re looking to improve your business presentation skills, today you’ll learn the secrets of how some top executives did just that.