by Patty Azzarello
Using the stage
Iâm paraphrasing something that Simon Cowell said to an early contestant on American Idol.
You do not seem to be taking advantage of using this stage to perform for millions of people.Â You are acting more like this is a try-out than a performance.
I got to thinking about how people go about communicating, presenting, and behaving at work, and I think this is such an important point:
Are you performing when it counts?
â¦OrÂ are you just presenting, clarifying, and getting through the information?Â Are youÂ defensive â like this is a try-out or a test you need to pass?Â Or are you really owning it and using the opportunity to its full advantage?
Itâs a valuable insight:
Think of any communication as an opportunity to perform.
And I donât mean a shallow, disingenuous performance.Â Or one that is data and quality free.
I mean a performance that is compelling because you really care about it, you invest in how you will present not just what you present, because it matters to you personally to have an impact.
Make something happen.
Own the Outcome, not just the communication.
A good way to think about this is, what would you do differently if you were taking responsibility for the outcome and the actions this communication drives, not just the transmission of the information?
To turn a communication into a performance, you need to think about not only what you want to communicate in terms of the content, but how you will capture and hold their attention.
- How will you motivate, interest or excite them?
- What is the difference that you want this communication to make?
- How will peopleâs point of view be altered if you succeed?
- What will they do differently?
- What will they remember about the topic? About you?
- How will they be entertained or bored?
This is really one of those things that sets high achievers apart.
They have the ability to inspire others with their ideas â to cause motion and action with their words.Â They invest in the performance.
Here are some examples:
Performing a product roadmap presentation
If you are presenting a product roadmap recommendation, your goal is to share the information clearly. You can show timelines, technology choices, product feature additions, costs, competitive data, etc.
Get people excited.
But If you are performing a product roadmap presentation, your goal is to get people excited enough about the future that they give you the funding now, and continued support along the way.
You might include videos of user experiences and requests, physical prototypes, an interactive demo, or mock headlines that trounce the competition.
Performing a Business Review
For these, we always spend so much time on the data, presenting â covering every detail and defending against every hard question in the financials.
You are so much better off if you spend some time performing proactively, off the defense.
- How are you going to inspire your reviewers most about the business?
- What kinds of ideas will they personally respond to, over and above the numbers?
- Why do you personally believe in this business?
- What are the most exciting customer stories about how your products and services changed their business?
- What is your top sales person doing that you are excited about replicating?
Iâm not suggesting that you skip the data and put on a song and dance show instead of managing the business.
But you can get a lot further with your stakeholders if you take responsibility to excite them with the right images and stories, instead of only boring them with a straightforward presentation of data, progress, and plans.
Performing a Budget Approval presentation
Not just numbers
If there was ever a reason to step up your performance, itâs to get your budget approved.
Loads of data and metrics will not help as much as exciting them about what they will get for the money, and showing them how much you are personally motivated to make a big impact on the business.
Even the most number conscious executives will respond to a compelling story about something that transforms the customer experience or the market.
If itâs a big deal, invest the energy to get your creative, marketing, and sales people to help you with content.
One good story can be worth a thousand spread sheet cells.
What works for you?
What are your techniques to make sure your presentations inspire the right outcomes? Share your thoughts in the comment box!
Patty Azzarello works with executives where leadership and business challenges meet. She has held leadership roles in General Management, Marketing, Software Product Development and Sales, and has been successful in running large and small businesses. She writes at Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. You’ll find her on Twitter as @PattyAzzarello
Successful-Blog is proud affiliate of