Preparing for More Effective Presentations Using…
By Dr. Susan Cain and Debbie Roberts-Loucks
We were lucky to be invited recently to a Huey Lewis concert, and then to go meet Mr. Lewis back stage prior to the show. We went to the show with Pat and Monty Roberts.
When we got to the concert venue, we were ushered backstage. There was quietness before the show-no sign of backstage jitters or stage fright by anyone about to go on stage. Someone asked Mr. Lewis what he did to prepare for his show. He looked around, adjusted his glasses and said simply, “Change my shirt.”
We liked that answer. It showed how lightly Mr. Lewis wore his fame, and reminded me that even high profile people have a choice in the way they prepare for an event or meeting. After that statement, Mr. Lewis took the stage and the audience readily responded to his low-key sincerity.
On another recent occasion, we spoke with a colleague, a fellow graduate school instructor. His words about how he prepared for each class struck us as useful. “I don’t worry about class time,” he related. ” I prepare for each class, then enjoy myself once in class,” he said. It struck us that Mr. Lewis had done just that-albeit with minimal last minute preparation.
Many of us have to prepare for what we perceive as high-pressure meetings. Our anxiety in the meeting can steer an otherwise good meeting toward a tense, pressurized encounter. We have an antidote to that scenario- a different way of putting anxiety into a more useful place. We suggest looking to horses for a solution.
For thousands of years of domestication, horses as flight animals have developed a keen sensitivity to human adrenalin levels. They know when anxiety levels are high in humans, and when they are low. According to New York Times Best Selling Author Monty Roberts, it is more useful for training (read, learning) when adrenalin and anxiety levels are lower. Mr. Roberts uses a process of training called Join-Up to establish a relationship with a horse that relies on trust to relax and enable the horse to learn. He mirrors the horse by using the horses’ own language of gestures-a language Mr. Roberts calls Equus.
“Adrenaline up, learning down, adrenalin down, learning up,” says Mr. Roberts about the usefulness of nerve-wracking learning encounters. How can this perspective inform your own preparation for presentations or training meetings? It’s simple, for your next presentation, try doing the following:
1. Prepare for your meeting or presentation to the point of complete comfort with the materials you will present.
2. Rehearse, role-play, practice. Know your material cold.
3. Once at your meeting, enjoy the company you are with and let your presentation roll out. Connect with your audience. Relax, breath normally, you know your stuff!
For your next presentation, try the above suggestion-use your nervous energy to drive meeting preparation and then relax once you are into the meeting. Enjoy. Your anxiety levels will be lower, and so will the anxiety levels of your audience.
Debbie Roberts-Loucks and Dr. Susan Cain design and facilitate unique corporate training events. Find out more about MPRI corporate training opportunities by visiting the corporate events page at www.montyroberts.com.
Obtain a copy of the workbook: Life Lessons from The Man Who Listens to Horses