A few weeks ago, I went to a Kris Kristofferson concert. Yes, I know, he sings country music. Yes, I know I was by far one of the youngest members in the audience. Yes, I know he used to sing with Johnny Cash (super big points with me), Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and a host of others. And yes, I get it that it doesn’t make sense that someone my age would even know who he is, unless maybe I caught a movie he was in, like The Last days of Frank and Jesse James with Johnny Cash, one lazy Saturday afternoon on TBS. Trust me, I’ve had a million questions posed to me each time I mention the concert. It’s cool. Why? Because I get to share with each person things they don’t know about this amazing performer. For instance that Kris is a fantastic writer and a Rhodes scholar!
So what does this have to do with business? Well, as Kris stepped into the spotlight, taking center stage, it reminded me of how as business owners, each of us takes the stage everyday. Whether you have a command performance or people start throwing objects onto the stage is up to you.
How To Avoid Incoming Objects When Presenting Yourself
1) Focus on the needs of others
I can’t tell you the numerous times I hear clients tell me that their vendors just don’t listen. Often, vendors hop on stage with the “do I have a deal for you” script, rarely listening for the objections or grumblings of their audience. Here’s some food for thought, listen, your clients are in the trenches daily and can impart valuable information. Learn how to listen effectively with these tips.
2) Make Sure You Have A Dress Rehearsal
As I continued to watch Kris that night, I noticed an issue that I totally understood on a personal level, stage fright. Each time Kris would come to the ending of a song, he would just cut off, not even really finish on an ending chord and immediately turn his back, quickly say thank you and grab a drink of his Gatorade. I understood and felt the uncomfortable feeling I used to get at my piano and flute recitals. One thing I have learned from a dear acting coach, Brian Cutler of the Commercial Actor’s Studio is “the only way to make the uncomfortable, comfortable is to do the uncomfortable.” So if you have a presentation to do whether it’s for new business, a creative concept pitch or even presenting yourself at an interview, be prepared! Rehearse the words you plan to say, questions you plan to ask and direction you plan to take.
3) Practice Makes Perfect
This goes hand-in-hand with the whole rehearsal aspect. If you don’t practice for future performances, how can you get better? Learn what you want to say very well, so that when you take the stage you can easily say what needs to be said, without all the ums, ahs, and multiple uncomfortable pauses. See some ideas on how to practice presenting.
4) Don’t Take A Bow Before the Encore
The final thing I noticed about Kris that tied into business performances was that he had to be coaxed to do 2, that’s right 2 encores. He meekness, was adorable, but it was also a good lesson. I immediately felt at ease. He wasn’t on stage because he only wanted to make money, he just loved making music. I am sure money was important, but it wasn’t the only thing that made him take the stage. How many times as business owners, employees or as a partner do we push our agenda before we really understand what will benefit the people we’re supposed to be, um, …. listening to during each interaction? Meekness is an admirable quality, and when combined with intelligence, experience and determination can be an unstoppable force. Step back next time you’re interacting with a client, co-worker, boss or spouse … what might follow next could be the solution that fills a need.
Are you ready to take center stage? What’s holding you back? Do clients ask you for a repeat performance? How can you strengthen you current presentation skills?
Drop me a line, I’d love to hear more about your experience.
Happy Peak Performance-