Monday, August 17, 2009

Performance Coaching: Some Tips

For those of you who need performance help but do not live in London, I thought I'd share a few tips with those who feel nervous about presenting that I offer to my clients.

It's certainly not all there is to the process, but it should help.

Tips for Non-Actors

1. Good presenting skills are not mysterious. Here's the math:

95% of great performance is preparation and practice. Only 5% is inspiration and/or innate talent.
People are innately creatures of habit. Once we start, it’s almost impossible to stop. Effective performing habits can be learned.

= The odds are in your favor to become at least an above-average presenter - at best, excellent -- with practice. No matter where you are today, you can get there.

2. Inspiration is a meeting point of emotional and intellectual insight. So get that 95% preparation down cold – only then will you find a way to channel inspiration into your performance with consistency.

3. Empathy is a chemical reaction – you automatically effect the people in the room by being present. If it feels natural for you to smile, do it – it’s about the most effective sales tool you’ve got. But only if it’s genuine.

And, believe it or not, acting with sincerity can be learned.

4. The best way to channel nerves is enthusiasm. The alternatives are dire.

5. You’re most effective when you find your own presenting style. But steal whatever works from wherever you can get it.

Become aware of the way people move, sit, and stand around you. If there is something particularly effective in a gesture or expression (or particularly undermining), write it down with as much detail as possible. It will make you more aware of your own body language.

6. Practice. Slides never sold a thing, so don’t depend on them.

Pretend there’s only one word on every slide – the main idea, say “Opportunities” or “Management Team” – and then explain why it’s there. Don’t point or even look at the screen unless there is a very good performance reason.

7. Practice. The value of your performance reflects the credibility of your company. Half an hour a day. Every day. In front of someone who doesn’t know your material.

Don’t say you don’t have time. If you had a big bug in your software, you’d throw all resources into fixing it.

Think of your performance as the most important software you’ve got.

8. Practice. Find different emphases for different audiences, and have a few presentations up your sleeve. Make sure you can do them in automatic pilot.

But don’t. Ever.

More in the next post.

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