For the Exasperated Colleagues of Incorrigible Executives, Managers and Lackluster Presenters

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

“Even Tiger Woods needs a swing coach.” That’s a line from the recent Two and a Half Men series finale. Over the past 12 years I caught the show on airplanes and in syndication, and wondered how questions about Charlie Sheen’s character would be put to rest. So I watched the finale. And out of everything that happened in the series and its hour-long ending, it was that one line about Tiger Woods that stuck.

Again: “Even Tiger Woods Needs a Swing Coach”

During the finale, that line was uttered in reference to Charlie Sheen’s character, and his erotic activities. But when it comes to Tiger Woods’ golf game, your presentation performance, or the speaking performance of your colleagues, the same holds true. No matter how good you are at public speaking and delivering presentations, keep your game sharp with ongoing practice and expert coaching, and offer similar resources to those around you at work. Sure, Tiger Woods’ game has recently suffered. Today, he needs a coach and a back specialist. But that’s not the point. In good times and bad, Tiger always has a need for a swing coach. It’s an ongoing requirement, even for somebody at the pinnacle of his career. Despite his success, Tiger Woods never stops learning, never stops practicing, and continually tries to improve his game. So do his competitors, and so do yours. In sports, business and life, the competition is fierce, hungry newcomers abound, and it’s tough to stay on top. Just ask Tiger about his current ranking among golfers, and about how difficult it is to become, and stay, Number One.

Your People Are Seeking Presentation Help to Become Number One

I’m not writing about the kind of presentation help one may receive through the creation of better PowerPoint slides. I am writing about establishing a comprehensive plan to provide continual presentation skills help for you and your team. Create a plan, and give your employees access to the personal coaching and resources they need. From the Wall Street Journal and numerous websites, much has been written lately about how everybody from executives to entrepreneurs must “find their voice” to deliver positive impressions. It’s how audiences evaluate and judge us. Yet many companies don’t provide employees with the tools needed to develop a powerful voice, let alone maintain one. It’s ironic. Executives who don’t help employees improve presentation skills demand that their people deliver boastful results, even if it is with little to no help. I imagine many are told: “Bring back qualified leads…get prospects excited…convey messages…beat the competition…SELL MORE! The entire sales and marketing team spent a half a day on presentations six months ago! What’s the problem? Get out there and do better!”

Thanks for the Dismissive Pep Talk, but Not Much Else

For those who have suggested spending time and money on dedicated presentation training and coaching, roadblocks can be everywhere. If you’ve tried but have been met with resistance, recall if any of these reactions look familiar:

  • “I’m a great public speaker and don’t need practice.”
  • “We don’t have the budget, and it’s not a priority.”
  • “Great idea and I really want to do this. Let’s talk to – insert any name here – and see what we can do for next year.” (But next year never arrives.)
  • “We’re too busy, we can’t get everybody together, and there’s no time.”
  • “Once the slides are finished, I’ll practice.”
  • “Halfway through our presentation skills workshop, I have to jump on a once-in-a-lifetime overseas conference call with a client that I can’t miss. It’ll be at least an hour.”

The excuses are endless. It’s confounding to witness the lack of concern for helping employees practice presentation techniques, while watching entrenched approaches to preparing must-have, text-heavy slides anchored by officially sanctioned logos. In company after company, staff create, clean, and beautify visuals for all to see. But when it comes to finding expert help to stand-up and practice a presentation, some are fortunate to join a one-off, pre-scheduled public speaking workshop booked for sometime in the future by somebody in Human Resources. That’s if the employees are lucky, if they get permission, if it fits the schedule, if there’s room in the class, and if they’re able to travel. Moreover, this works only if one buys into the notion that a generic, cross-departmental workshop is all anybody ever needs.

Back to the World of Sports 

While Tiger Woods is known for his performance on the golf course, Michael Jordan is known for his performance on the basketball court. In similar fashion to Woods, it’s been said that Jordan was the first one to practice in the morning, and the last one to leave at night, despite being at the top of his game. Your company presenters are entering a highly competitive arena each time they get in front of an audience. Tiger picks up a golf club, Michael a basketball, and you and your team pick up  microphones and video cameras. Tiger and Michael would never compete without rigorous practice and expert coaching. Why should you and your team be any different? Remind your colleagues of the importance of practicing and preparing for every speaking engagement, and take the necessary steps to get ready for all corporate appearances before anybody takes the stage, goes on camera or phones in a webinar. Share what you’ve read about Tiger Woods’ and Michael Jordan’s #winning attitudes toward staying on top of their games. Even the incorrigible among you may take notice.

Follow GettingPresence on Twitter: @gettingpresence, and stay tuned to this blog for insights and solutions from experts who have faced, and met, the same event-related challenges you face everyday. We’ve prepared speakers, and helped executives, salespeople and marketing leaders make the most out of business conferences, industry trade shows, customer meetings, and sponsored webinars.

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