If you were among the 100 million people who watched the first Presidential debate last night, then you saw in real time the power of preparation. Republican or Democrat, it was universally recognized that Clinton was far better prepared than Trump was for a sustained issue-based debate. The parallels to presenting are obvious. The question is, How do you prepare for a successful business meeting?
Know your Audience & Objective
The objective for both Trump and Clinton was to hold onto their supporters and win over the undecided voters. Trump needed to look and sound “presidential.” Clinton needed to come across as trustworthy and hold her own vs. Trump’s expected aggressive style and attacks. Time will tell if their shared major objective was met. Trump began strong but then deteriorated into emotionalism, which made him look less than presidential. Clinton held her own and then some, but it is an open question if her trust factor was strengthened.
In presenting, know your overall objective for that client. Know the client’s objectives and issues so you can speak to them. Determine the right tone for that client and sustain it throughout the meeting.
Passion is Good. Loss of Control is Bad.
Trump wins on the emotional front every time, but he seemed to unravel under Clinton’s baiting. Clinton spoke with convincing conviction, but could benefit from a little more feeling in her remarks.
In presenting, be appropriately enthusiastic, not only about the elegance of your offer’s features, but even more about the value and benefits of those features to your clients.
Answer the Question
Politicians, unfortunately, generally answer the questions they want to answer in order to support their message. However, continued evasiveness undermines credibility and arouses doubt. Trump’s responses to the questions surrounding President Obama’s birth certificate were weak. Clinton was luckier in that the moderator and Trump (except for his one line about being willing to reveal his tax returns when she reveals what was in the missing 33,000 emails) did not press the email question further. (Clinton can certainly expect that to come up again in future debates. We'll see how she handles that.)
In presenting, think through what questions, objections, and concerns clients might have. Think through how you will answer those issues. Stumbling through an answer to a tough question is a sure way to undermine your credibility and the value you offer.
In short: Prepare. Manage your emotions. Answer the questions asked.
No doubt the next debates will yield up other lessons for presenters. Stay tuned!
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