Conquer First Contact Fear

Conquer First Contact Fear

by Beverly Terrill (c)

Preparing your Presentation

There is no better way to overcome anxiety than to be prepared. A few years ago, I worked as a Retirement Specialist. It was my job to convince employees of small companies to invest in the company’s Retirement plan. This was no easy task. I had a slideshow and prewritten script that I used at every company with just a couple of variations based on the particulars of the company. My success was measured by the percentage of employees that signed up for the plan. As I learned my job, I began to be able to speak more freely and not read from the script. I was able to anticipate the questions that I would need to be able to answer. I was also able to increase my participation rate because I was viewed as an expert on this subject. This is exactly what you need to do. Begin with a base presentation and then modify for each prospect based on your research. This will give you a comfort level that will exude confidence.

Practice, Practice, Practice

So once you have this presentation created, you need to practice. I would begin in front of a mirror. Then you can move on to your significant other. If you have a crew or friends that won’t be merciless, use them as an audience. But I sometimes find I would rather present to strangers than be heckled by my friends. That is an image that I can’t get out of my head. This goes along with being prepared. Know your stuff inside and out!

Research the Prospect

This can be fun! An obvious place to start is with the Internet. You can Google the company and hopefully they have a website. There is normally an “About Us” page or maybe some company history. Sometimes if it is a national chain, you can’t really get information about the local store. In this case you need to do things the old fashioned way. Check the yellow pages. If the company has a slogan, it will most likely be in the yellow pages ad. You can also visit the company if possible and look for the mission statement. This is normally posted so that it is visible to the customers and/or employees. Another way to research your prospect is to get information from an employee of the company. Ask around. Chances are the cousin of your wife’s step Uncle’s daughter works there. (You get the point).

What are you looking for? Your goal is to find out what the company does, how long have they been doing it and why are they successful? Also, it is very beneficial to find out who you will be speaking with and a little about that person. For instance, does he/she like to be called Mr/Mrs? How long has he been in this position? You can get this information by talking to his secretary. Phrase your questions so you appear interested in learning more. Don’t make it sound as though you are writing for a tabloid. “ I hear he’s only been here for a year” sounds negative. You should say “From what I have learned the business has really been growing, how long has he/she been in the CFO position?”

The main objective is to be able to incorporate some of the companies ideals and philosophy into your presentation.

Create a “Cheatsheet”

Even after all the practice and repetition, we can still forget some of the important points we wanted to speak about. This is where your cheatsheet comes in handy.
Create an outline of the topics you will discuss and then add the specifics that you do not want to miss under each topic. This will allow your brain to relax. In a wonderful book titled “Getting Things Done” the author tells us that if you have a safe place to record everything, our brain then becomes less bogged down. But you can’t fool yourself, you have to know that everything is at your fingertips and you don’t have to remember every little thing.

Prepare Your Mind

Okay behind the Number One tip of being physically prepared, is to be mentally prepared. Draw on your best memories. It doesn’t have to be a past sponsor experience although that would be ideal. It could be the time you inspired your teammates in a high school basketball game. Focus on your strengths. You have to know that you are not peddling promises. You have a proposition that is going to help this company. There is no need to be nervous.

Hand It Over to Someone Else

If all else fails, ask someone else to either create the presentation and/or present it for you. It may be that you are not comfortable with the presentation you created. You may just get tongue tied when you try to speak publicly. Know your weaknesses and your strengths. If you have someone in your crew or your household that will better represent you there is no harm in delegating the responsibility.

photo by piddy77