Aug 18 2014
You’re on the threshold
of a presentation.
Are you “overkill” ready?
I once worked for an “overkill” boss. It took me awhile to figure this out because he constantly gave me the impression he thought I wasn’t up to snuff with reality, until I discovered that he was simply an OCD poster boy . . .
“Did you key up the audio so it’s loud enough for those with hearing disorders? Is it timed to come on just as I say ‘New campaign’? Is there a crisp, clean unused legal pad and new pen with keyboard access in front of every chair at the meeting table? Who’s escorting them into the room?
“You’re wearing pinstripes, right? And plain dark suit? No crazy neckties. And kill that erring! Did you check the thermostat? You’re sure the agenda board is 100% perfect and visible from every seat? Their limo is ordered? What time’s their flight? Lunch arrangements? What about lunch arrangements? “
Of course that was just the beginning of his diatribe checklist. He would go on to the exact type and amount and freshness of the tuna salad and bread and veggies and dip and chips and cheese and crackers and fruit, and juice and soda to be served. “What’s the dessert? Who’s making it? Have you tried it?” and on and on. You’d have thought our ad agency sales pitch was a White House attempt at negotiating a global war peace treaty. “WHO,” he would always ask, “is in your pocket?”
BUT WAS HE WRONG?
I’d be interested in your thoughts, but I can tell you this much: While I never became the fanatic he was, I learned to respect the value of being fully prepared ahead of every client and potential client interface — in person, on the phone, and on the computer screen. While I agree that his cage-rattling directives were often excessive, over-the-top, I have come to realize that –in fact– he had a point: You can never be TOO prepared!
And perhaps most important: being fully prepared –including having some contingency plans– helps build self-confidence as well. Why? Because it leaves your mind clear to deal with the person(s) in front of you and adapt to he/her/them and/or the circumstances. If you’re not fully prepared, you may be too preoccupied with fumbling to notice nonverbal responses or room temperature or your own agenda . Sales, remember, are made in “the here and now“!
What is business (and professional practice) all about after all? The customer/client/patient/prospect . . . RIGHT? What else could it possibly be about? So if you think on this a minute or two –or a lifetime’s worth– you will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that your entire career existence is dependent on your’s and your organization’s abilities to attract and keep, and grow your customer base. What else is there?
Even if you work for a nonprofit, and think you exist to make the world a better place, you’ll never succeed without developing a base of supporters. So how does one maximize the odds of attracting and keeping and growing a support base of any kind? With as accurate and perfect and communicative a presentation as possible at every opportunity you get to make a point. You need not become an OCD basket case or a pushy salesperson to make this happen.
You must quite simply put yourself in your audience’s (of one or one million) proverbial shoes and present information at his/her/their level wrapped around expressed needs and interests. Oh, and that can ONLY happen if you listen carefully (at least 80% of the time) to what each and all of them have to say. If you’re unsure or can’t feasibly do this, hire a firm that will do it for you with surveys or focus groups or whatever methods work for your industry or profession.
Otherwise, you’re you’ll find yourself
working inside a box
that you’ll never learn to think out of!
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