Don’t worry: It’s only your reputation on the line

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By Anil Dilawri

Anil Dilawri is managing director of Save it like Sully, an executive presentation coaching and training company.

Have you ever seen a bad presentation before? Of course you have, everyone has. The next time you see a bad presentation, and I’m guessing it will be soon, take 20 seconds and write down three adjectives to describe the presenter. My guess is, they probably won’t be very flattering adjectives. The point here is that when bad presentations happen, the presenter’s reputation suffers. Whether we like it or not, our personal reputations are on the line every time we present.

When I work with clients, we often determine that effective preparation is the key to presentation success.  The problem, however, is that preparation is difficult. Really difficult. (Note: Preparation is not the development of your PowerPoint slides or demos. Preparation is practicing the physical delivery of your presentation.)

Preparation is so difficult for most presenters because it is time consuming. Almost every day, I hear a client say something like, “I can’t prepare, I don’t have time, it’s just too busy for me right now.” That’s understandable. We are all busy. We have meetings, plans to draft, people to manage, emails to respond to, calls to make, social media to attend to, and more meetings. Who has time to prepare?

When the element of time comes up, we introduce the concept of personal preparation ROI (return on investment). Personal preparation ROI is a three-minute analysis exercise that determines how important it is for you to prepare for your next presentation. Here’s how it works:

1) Determine what is at stake with your presentation. Examples: A million dollar contract, convincing your boss you deserve a raise, maintaining your reputation with your employees.

2) Decide how much the presentation means to you given what is at stake. Example: This is the most important presentation I have to deliver this month.

3) Determine how much time you spend preparing based on how much the presentation means to you personally. Example: This is important, I should dedicate half a day to preparing for this presentation.

4) Determine if your ROI makes sense. Example: My reputation with my employees is on the line with this presentation. My reputation is important to me. I am going to spend three hours preparing for this important presentation. Does this time investment make sense?

If a million dollar contract is on the line, does it make sense to prepare for three hours?

If the launch of a product that your team has worked on for six months hangs in the balance, should you maybe practice your presentation five times before show time?

Does a full day of meetings, emails, and plans outweigh your personal reputation with your audience?

Just remember, we are judged every time we present. Effective preparation matters!

Photo: In Trust

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