Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Business - Part 4 of 4

Decide when to be sorry, but only be sorry once if at all

Saying “I’m sorry” in a presentation is risky. It’s even more risky in business. Unless it is the point of the presentation it should be used extremely infrequently.

For example, if a guest speaker shows up late for whatever reason, she absolutely should apologize to the audience for making them wait. Not doing this can be a big mistake.

But saying “I’m sorry” too much can end up weakening the presenter in the audience’s eyes. It also reminds them again and again of the reason the speaker was sorry in the first place.  Over-apologizing will create negative energy, and we know from previous sections that this is something we never want to risk.

State Secrets

Your personal state of mind doesn’t need to be shared with a business audience, with few exceptions.

If you’re feeling nervous, keep it to yourself since your audience might not even notice.

If you’re tired, they don’t need to know that since telling them may only make them think you’re not at your best.

If you’re especially happy about meeting this particular client or the opportunity, you can say something like “I’m happy to be here”, but don’t say “Wow, I am thrilled because you are the client I’ve really been trying to land!”

If you’re feeling especially good, you also don’t need to say “I’m feeling invincible today.” In fact, if you are feeling good, you will send that message with your body language and energy anyway.

Depending on your style, the subject, and the situation, portray the mood you’re supposed to be in and avoid departures at all costs.

Dress accordingly

This one may be obvious but we’ll say it anyway. Dress according to the image you want to send, but choose your image wisely.

Business meetings are rarely the right place for too much sex appeal.  Enough said!

When in doubt, overdress for a business presentation as opposed to under dressing. The “leader” of the room should always look worthy of being the leader. If you under dress, it may not only impact your ability to lead the room, it can also tell the audience I didn’t think you were worth dressing up for. Only a few people get away with being super casual in big presentations. Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, was known for giving big talks in jeans, a turtleneck, and sneakers. But unless you’re the CEO of the company, dress your best with your audience in mind.

Finish strong

In any sport, “finish strong” means to not falter at the end, to find some energy to end the game or the match with strength, and maybe most of all to try not to lose at the end. This is a good analogy for the way to end a business presentation. You don’t want to put in all that hard work, then at the last minute blow it by losing focus, becoming overconfident or getting sloppy.

You can do this in a few ways:

First, prepare something great for the end of your presentation. Save some important detail or idea to wrap up with. This ideally should be something the audience will find especially helpful and something they haven’t heard of before, at least not in the way that you are going to tell it. You should be passionate about this last point because that will give you the energy to relay it.

Second, build endurance. In the sports world, you practice and train to finish strong. You can do the same thing for presentations through practice, practice, practice. You can also do actual exercise to build physical stamina, especially activities that increase lung capacity, like swimming, biking, running or walking.

Third, practice rallying your energy at the end for one final push. As you feel yourself hitting the home stretch, take a deep breath. Imagine the finish line and how you’re going to feel when you are done. That alone should give you a burst of adrenaline.

Have fun

We’ll conclude this section by reminding you to have fun. Business, needless to say, isn’t always a barrel of laughs. Try to enjoy yourself out there.

When the person leading the presentation actually is having fun, her personality can be infectious. People who affect others in a positive way often do very well, especially when presenting to others who want to share in that energy and feeling.

You’re here because you want to deliver some kind of presentation, but this is bigger than that.  This is your life.   Enjoy it. Business doesn’t always have to be a drag or a chore. Giving talks that you and the audience enjoy can make a tough job seem immeasurably better!

Find things you really enjoy talking about for your business presentations. Find the fun in them. Enjoy the process!