Her subject line read ‘Presentation Freak Out’.
“We didn’t finalize the presentation until 6pm. I have 70 slides and 13 pages of copy to memorize in a few days. I’m freaking out. I’ve never had this little time to prepare and it’s the biggest presentation I’ve ever made. Any advice?”
I got this frantic email from a client recently. And as much as I’d like to think we can all manage our calendars to prepare way in advance for high stakes opportunities, it just doesn’t happen. Waiting on deliverables from other team mates. Needing last minute approval – which inevitably means last minute changes and tweaks.
Pretty soon our 5 day prep time turns into 2 days … or 2 hours … or 20 minutes.
So what can you do when the clock is ticking, you’ve got a deadline, and you need to nail your presentation?
Here’s some advice for last minute prep…
Breath. Clear your mind for a few moments. Take a brief break. A frazzled mind is an unproductive one.
Prioritize two parts: the opening and the close. Nail those no matter what.
Get off script: Don’t try to memorize. I know you want to get all those good nuggets in (and maybe others are pressuring for those too) but very rarely can communicators pull off being engaging, authentic, and relaxed when they’re trying to speak verbatim to talking points.
Ultimately trust your ideas. Trust the quality of your work. Talk to the essence of your ideas instead of memorizing them.
Plan your transitions. Craft your transitions between ideas thoughtfully.
Don’t hustle. The success of this opportunity doesn’t define or reflect who you are and your worth. Don’t give the audience too much power.
In the end it’s about communicating brilliant ideas in a personable, relatable, and honest way. Don’t compromise those by pushing too much content or memorizing it.
I sent this advice, and well wishes, to my client. A few days later she sent an update: the prospective client said it was the best presentation he’d ever seen.
Do you have other tips that help you when the pressure’s on? Please share!