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Two things that ruin your presentations -- you probably do both

[Originally published to my Present Like a Pro group on FB. Join for ongoing speaking and presentation tips.]

Service rangers at Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, have warned of a troubling trend.


Formerly known as Mt. McKinley, the 20,310-foot peak was closed to climbers in 2020. But that hasn't stopped folks from trying to climb it. Examples include:

  • A pair of climbers who claimed to be a "team," but had not registered as climbing partners

  • Two climbers who did not know each other well, but had decided to work together shortly before the summit attempt

  • Climbers that did not have a rope or had a rope and chose not to use it at crucial moments during the climb

Rangers claim that two particular problems are present when thing go wrong on a climb:

  1. "A disturbing amount of overconfidence"

  2. Inexperience

Everyone who attempts to summit Denali wants to succeed, but many are naive, overly ambitious and even ignorant about what they're in for. That combination can be deadly at high altitudes.


A message for my speaker buddies


Of course, presenting is not a matter of life-or-death.


But I've known thousands of speakers through the years who approach the craft with overconfidence and a lack of experience.


Many well-intentioned people enter the sales profession, for example, with a lack of presentation experience and an enthusiastic, albeit artificial "I've got this," attitude. I can't tell you how many times I've been part of a group presentation when team members assured me that we were ready to go and um, we were not.


It's even more common for occasional presenters to accept a speaking assignment and try to wing parts of the presentation--or all of it.


So what's the best way to succeed as a presenter?


Most presenters gain experience and confidence either alone or with presenters who suffer from the same myopia.


My advice? Get help. Join the free Present Like a Pro group on Facebook (or a group like it). Monitor posts and participate in the various threads so you're constantly learning and upgrading your speaking skills.


Also, work with a mentor or a coach who truly understands the art of presentation. As always, let me know if you want help.


Be careful when you're out there on the ledge. This speaking business is not as easy as it looks.



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