Presentation Tip: Find Your Story

Where's Your Story?

Where is your presentation content? Is it in your script? Your notes? Memorized in your head? In your boss’s head? On the PowerPoint slide? Yikes!

For you to feel comfortable and to connect with your audience, you have to speak from your heart, not your head. This idea holds true even for technical info. True story: One day, we heard a presenter who was hot about building codes speak from her heart to a standing ovation! She set that audience on fire! Your story must live inside you – in your gut. Sounds easy, right? So, what’s the problem?

Trust. In business presentations, we don’t trust that speaking from our hearts is enough.

Don’t we think, “I don’t want to forget my points. I have to deliver the content I’m supposed to. I want to look professional”?

These thoughts cause us to try to remember our points, so we look for cues for our stories outside of us. We read from physical notes or PowerPoint slides, or we picture those notes in our heads and try to remember what we are “supposed to say.” Sound familiar?

What to do?

  •  When practicing, if you struggle “trying to remember,” lose your notes. Every fiber of your being will tell you not to do that. But trust and try it. You’ll quickly start visualizing your story, and it will flow right out of you! Once you get comfortable doing that…

  •  Create short bulleted notes on a piece of paper and put them on the table. Then if you forget – no problem! Trust. Check your next bullet. Then look inside yourself, visualize the story that goes with that bullet, and speak.

  •  Trust. No one knows what you planned. If you forget something important, your fellow presenters have your back.

Bottom line — trust that your story lives inside you. When we speak from our hearts, we are real, and our real heart, passion and ideas are what connect with other humans.

— Carol

Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

One of our clients found herself at a surprise interview…

It’s quite common for my firm to get calls from existing clients wanting to meet to talk about various projects. My boss received such a call about an interiors project and passed it on to me. I made an appointment to meet with the client to discuss next steps, costs, schedule, etc.

So, I showed up. The meeting went great. I got along very well with the client, and we discussed how they should proceed with their build out – their next steps, my next steps, a rough schedule, and basic design ideas. As the client walked me to the door, he shook my hand warmly and said, “We’ll let you know if you’ve got the job.”

I don’t know if I was able to keep my jaw from hitting the floor or not. No one had ever said anything about this meeting being a shortlist interview! Happily, a few weeks later, we had won the work.

For me, this moment was proof that Graceworks’ teaching about “Help Your Listener” works. While I was with that client, I wasn’t selling. I wasn’t trying to prove our qualifications. I wasn’t “differentiating” my firm. I was just there to help the client see possibilities and figure out schedules. I had them, their needs, and their best interests in mind the entire time we talked. It was such an easy meeting. Helping is so much more powerful than selling. Helping wins work.

Danielle Covati, LEED AP ID+C
Assistant Project Manager
HITT Construction, Washington, D.C.

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