Sometimes a presentation calls for a little drama. This may make you extremely uncomfortable if you're not used to hamming it up for an audience. We spend so much time at work trying to be taken seriously that it can be very difficult to let go and break out of this persona. In these situations, you need to find a way to give yourself the licence to be a little over the top, to channel your inner thespian.
Last week, one of my clients hosted a showcase event attended by university, research and government VIPs. The event included a major product launch which the new Chief Operating Officer, responsible for marketing, had planned as a big reveal. On each side of the stage was an enormous sign with the new product banner, spotlit and hidden behind black curtains. The whole company had worked overtime to pull the event and the marketing collateral together. It was on a different level from events they had done in the past.
The CEO was to make the product announcement at the end of a short speech. The COO demonstrated to him what he wanted him to do. He was to say the product names dramatically while opening his arms wide to gesture to the banners at each side. This would signal the curtains to drop for the ta da! moment.
"I can't do that," said the CEO. He crossed his arms and shook his head.
"Dude, you have to. It's the whole campaign we've been working on," said the COO.
That evening at the launch, the CEO gave his serious speech and then pulled off the dramatic reveal just as instructed. After the curtains dropped and the applause died down, he added with a wry smile, "My marketing people told me I had to do that."
This was a wonderful solution to his problem of how to give himself permission to be a showman for a few moments. It put everyone at ease and revealed not just the new products but a bit of himself as well.
When you're faced with a situation where your presentation calls for more drama than you're used to displaying in front of your colleagues, find a way, like this CEO did, to give yourself the licence to break out of your usual character and just do it.
"Stop watching yourself," my voice coach, David, says to me. You may be amazed at the results and at how much fun you have with it.