February 2012

Why Is Presentation Like A First Date?

Remember getting ready for a first date, the butterflies in your stomach? Will he like me? If I don’t like her, how fast can I get out of there? Oh no, I have to tell my life story all over again, okay be funny but not too funny. What do I wear? How much do I have to spend on her to make an impression? Now think of the last presentation you gave to a group of strangers, or business acquaintances. How’d you feel right before you walked in the room? Bet you had the same rush of blood, same trepidations about acceptance, same worries. “If he’s looking at his blackberry is it a bad sign or does he have a bad habit?” If you liked the person, it’s even worse at the end of the night. Will he ask me out again? Do I have to wait for him to call me, if not how soon can I call him? Should we kiss, shake hands, how do I seal the deal? Now, think of what goes on during the date. You are asking questions to learn about the other person, and to make yourself seem interested, bright, and perceptive. You are trying to tell them just enough about yourself to seem amusing, interesting, and interested without saying so much that you bore them to tears. If you like the guy, you are trying to do whatever it takes to get him to ask you out again. If an office friendship turns into something more, even though you know that person, have eaten lunch with them a hundred times over the last year, and fought the wars together, when romance rears its head, the dynamic of your relationship changes. You experience all the feelings you would on a first date, but even more is at stake. After all, this is your co-worker, someone you are going to have to interact with daily whether or not your date goes well. It magnifies the stakes. The same is true for many of us when we “present” to the people we work with, it should be easier than when we are talking to outsiders but…. If you can look at every business presentation you give, as a first date, then you can turn them into normal human interactions. An interaction where you communicate just like you would on a date, only instead of talking about the summer you turned fourteen and the trip that changed your life, you are going to talk about your product and how it can change the lives of those who consume it. The business stories you tell on your presentation date, will be delivered with the same humor, warmth, and brevity as a story on a date, date. Tell a business story well, and your audience will leave the room wanting that second date with you. They’ll want to hear more of what you have to say. They’ll devote the time to get to know you and your ideas. Not only will you get that second date but play your cards right and it will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
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