It was Friday at 6:15 a.m. and I already felt nauseated. Self doubt was setting in, “Why would anyone want to listen to me?”   

Possible face-saving alternatives filled my head: Maybe I can skip this presentation by claiming I had an allergic reaction or food poisoning? I absolutely did not want to give a presentation to 200+ salespeople at 7:30 a.m.

I could not stop the memories of other presentations I was forced to hear in the morning, no one seemed to want to be there… especially on a Friday! But I also knew that this was my “tell-all moment.” It was my first high-profile event to jump start the company I was launching. It was time to be a #GirlBoss.

At 7:10am, I arrived to present to the largest wine and beverage distribution company in the state of Ohio. After my name was called and RedHead was introduced, my face got redder than the red wine I make, but as I slowly crept in front of the movie theater-sized projector screens, my crippling case of “nerves” finally floated away.

You are probably wondering, why this story isn’t turning out to be a sh*t show as anticipated. No, I didn’t pass out in front of everyone…no, I didn’t spontaneously combust… and no, I did not blank out nor run out of the building.

 I actually rocked the presentation. I became energized as I threw out a few jokes and the group laughed with me. Getting a group to pay attention…let alone laugh a little gave me a new perspective! I knew at this moment I actually liked speaking in front of a group. I had something to say and others wanted and enjoyed hearing about it.

I’ve come a really long way from junior high. In those days, I was introverted because of others making fun of my red hair, freckles and voting me out of the group lunch table, twice. I hid in my room in my white fuzzy robe avoiding any socialization. I had no confidence and was depressed as I struggled with awkwardly trying to interact with others.

Here are a few simple tips to help you unlock your potential:

Know your business– Do your homework, be able to talk without notes,  add interesting stories or jokes, show a funny picture of yourself or something that makes what you are promoting memorable.  You should know more on your topic than everyone in the room so you have the advantage.

Know your audience- Your presentation may change depending on if you are talking in front of a young sales force versus a group that has been working for a company for more than 10 years. Find out who they are, what they expect, what can you tell them that they do not already know. The key is to determine how to entertain them and still get your point across.

Know yourself- Being the same as everyone else and blending in is boring. Capitalize on what makes you or your product unique and show your passion for it.  Winners stand out from the rest. Spend as much time prepping and practicing as possible. I advise to add humor to help others relate to your story or to break down their concerns so you can turn it around in your favor.  Give it your best shot and do not be too hard on yourself. Examine the mistakes you may have made so your next presentation will  be even better. Ask for feedback. If you were turned down, ask why and you may be surprised on what you are told.

Still lost and cannot do it? Get help. Nothing wrong with having a business associate help present that has stronger speaking skills. Try to rehearse a small portion of the presentation so you participate too. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so try to use those who have skill sets that you may lack.

Tweet me to continue the conversation: @MarisaSergi


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