As leaders, we usually end up at that crossroads where we have that one opportunity to close the deal, to persuade -- the meeting with our boss, the presentation to the Board of Directors, or the pitch to our customer.
When leaders exhibit improvisational behaviors (such as flexibility, positivity and humor) people connect with them. Leaders build trust with their teams when they are positive, and those teams in turn, engage and want to perform.
Have you ever avoided a career or business opportunity because it required you to speak in public? Did you ever have a great idea you wanted to share in a group setting but didn't because of your fear of speaking in front of a group of people?
I've tried it, and I've even had test subjects try it. It's distracting, makes you go blank, and leaches energy away from your passion and funnels it to a stupid technique. And there's always someone in the first row whom I really don't want to visualize in underwear. Ick.
Panels are a great way to look at a subject from several viewpoints. Unfortunately, they can also become slow, boring torture when panelists and moderators adopt the "speak-only-when-spoken-to-or-questioned" attitude.
Knowing where you can go wrong will help you to watch for these pitfalls. With everything positive you are attempting to put into your presentation it's good to look at what you can avoid and what may pull your speech down.
I have many students who have struggled with this problem. All of them have been able to conquer it with some success. Most important though is consider where you are and what you are trying to say. There is a time and place for everything.
Would you believe I've had personal conversations with such luminaries as Jane Fonda, Gwen Ifill, Jeremy Irons and Suze Orman? That's right -- tiny, intimate conversations. All because I got up at a microphone and asked a question.
While I realize that movie and television stars are people who get nervous speaking in public just like many of us, they had weeks between the nominations and the awards to get their presentations together.
We've all witnessed it: A monotone whisperer reading from slides. Even if the content was spot on, you'd never know because he lost you at hello. But what if you could combine killer content with Beyonce's ability to captivate an audience?
How did Dufner stay so cool under intense pressure to win a major championship? More important, what can YOU learn from Dufner's transformation from a guy struggling to retain his PGA Tour card to a champion hoisting the coveted Wanamaker Trophy?