28 Sep 2010
How can you beat pre-presentation nerves? It’s a very common problem – and it can make your life miserable.
Drayton Bird was international creative director for advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather. To the average person, says Bird, “apart from poisonous snakes, making speeches is the most frightening thing in the world.”
Bird confesses that he remains nervous before a pitch – and he’s made hundreds. But he’s not quite as nervous as he used to be. He says: “The only people who don’t seem to be nervous, in my experience, are those who are the most tremendous bores.”
Hints from Bird on clinching a sales presentation
Nerves are not only common, they are natural. As a matter of fact, nerves appear to improve the quality of presentations. Nerves are a manifestation of the fact that the presenter cares. And because he cares, he tries harder.
So how can the presenter learn to live with his nerves? Bird describes two ways:
- “First, remember that no client comes in hoping to see a poor presentation of lousy work. He is looking forward to seeing a good presentation of excellent work. So he is not to be feared.
- “And second, unquestionably the best way to combat nerves: be better prepared. Whenever I am going to make a presentation I have rehearsed in my mind several times how it is going to go. I even go to the extent of visualising the audience’s reaction (which is always enthusiastic!)
“I have anticipated all the things that might go wrong. I have considered what I will do if the audience turns out to be difficult in some way. I will have reflected on the type of people that are going to attend. I will have mastered my material.
“Finally, I find it useful to spend a little time – maybe only three or four minutes – on my own, to compose myself.”
Hope this helps!