Tag Archives: Leadership Training

A New Workshop From Jack E Rossin…

Physician Leadership Training

Physicians on a leadership track will find value from this comprehensive workshop that teaches Public Speaking, Persuasion Techniques, and the role of Emotional Intelligence in communications.

Jack is an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Pitch Philosophy and Biz Dev

Guidelines for Making a Zoom New Business Interview

Remember, your audience’s attention span is worse on Zoom than in real life (it’s not great in real life). So, move the meeting along.

-Do a fast introduction of who from your side is on the Zoom call.  Just names, not title and job function.

-Do not have your PowerPoint already pulled up and on the screen.  That takes away from seeing all the people in the meeting.  It may be your only chance to connect with them.

-Before getting into your PowerPoint, do a little preface to say what they are going to see.  It might spark conversation, which is always a goal of an business development pitch

-Go into your PowerPoint pitch

-Every few minutes check in with the audience for questions and comments.

-When the PowerPoint is done, close it up so you can see everyone again.

-Now, say something like “I have a few closing remarks I’d like to make, but first, let’s open this up to Q&A.

-Allow Q&A to run for as long as the prospect has questions.  Then deliver a fast summary of what you presented today and ask for the business.

The most important part of a new business pitch

You have their attention, but not for long. Make the most of it. There are four or five different strategies for an opening and one easy rule: the opening is never about you or the company you represent.   The opening is always about the prospect. Everything you say in the opening should be aimed at making the prospect’s life easier, richer, and more successful.

One strategy for an opening is problem-solution.  Start by discussing an issue you know is important to the prospect (you know because you’ve asked enough questions previously) and talk about how your solution solves that problem.  If you can convey that information by way of an interesting story, even better.

Put Your Best Stuff Into the Opening!

In a trial, the jury sometimes decides innocent or guilty in the first five minutes after hearing each lawyer’s opening remarks. The deciding factor for the jury is siding with the lawyer who seems most confident. Two important lessons come from this: juries make their decisions very early in the process, so put your best stuff into the open.  Secondly, learn the techniques that confident speakers use.

These techniques are relatively easy to master: strong eye contact, powerful voice, good posture, animated face, arms and body, the use of storytelling, command of material, speaking slowly.  Just learn to be proficient and practice 2 or 3 of them in each rehearsal and you will be a much better presenter.

How to Win the Business Pitch

Recently someone told me that while they understand the importance of rehearsal, there is just never enough time to do it.  There’s hardly enough time to prepare the proposal and to think about the prospect’s challenges and solutions.

But, often what wins the pitch is the pitch.  All of the prep work you did needs to be choreographed into a seamless story that the client can grasp, appreciate and, recognize that it is coming from a well oiled team.  To do it best, everyone on the team needs to rehearse together.  Everyone has to make time.

If you don’t want to rehearse, or can’t do it, then don’t waste all of those hours and money. Your chances of winning just dropped.

It seems crazy to put all of that time in schmoozing a prospect and investing in a proposal to waste it all because you couldn’t find time to rehearse.


Selling The Big Idea

Often times in a pitch you are presenting some big idea that your team worked diligently on.  If the idea is truly a blockbuster there are two dangers you should be aware of:

-You’re so anxious to present this killer idea that you don’t fully communicate the thinking that went into it,

-You fall into the trap of believing that because the idea is so good, the explanation doesn’t need to be.  “The idea will speak for itself.”

It is criminal to not sell a great idea because you didn’t package it properly in a solid presentation, and didn’t rehearse thoroughly.

Don’t Rush the Opening of a Pitch

You’re making a competitive pitch and the prospect asks you to hurry along. They have a lot of people yet to interview and want you  to present quickly.  When this happens, be afraid. Be very afraid.

You rush through the opening and leave out important information.  The way you opened sets the fast pace for the rest of the pitch so now everyone on your team rushes.  The big idea that you worked so hard on never gets a fair airing because it was presented at high speed.

There is nothing more important than the opening. Even if your time has been cut in half, do the opening the way you rehearsed.  If you constructed the opening properly it will contain the most relevant information the prospect needs to hear.

Good posture conveys pride in speaking

Good posture signals to your audience that you want to convey things to them that you are confident to discuss. Good posture for meetings and presentations is not a military posture, which can look anything but relaxed. It’s a prideful posture. Chest out, shoulders slightly back. Head held high. Big smile.

If you’re seated, sit closer to the edge of the seat, lean in towards the table but don’t slouch. On Zoom, try to be about 24″-28″ from the lens.

Posture is just as important on Zoom. People are more likely to slouch in a Zoom meeting.  It doesn’t look good and communicates disinterest.

Put Show Business Into a Pitch

Business theatrics is a more accentuated way of presenting. Bigger voice. Broader gestures.  Strong posture. Broad smile.  Dramatic pauses.  Keep your eyes glued on the audience.  Business theatrics adds energy and confidence to what you have to say.

A good pitch must always have an element of show business.

Presenting at a Conference Table

When making a presentation seated at a conference room table, take a power position when it is your turn to present. Raise the chair seat as high as it will go.  Sit on the edge of your seat and lean forward, arms on the table.

You should move and be animated but never stop leaning in. Hold that position through your presentation and any discussion that follows.

That body language says that you are in command.

Make eye contact with everyone in a pitch

When you’re pitching, make sure you look at and talk to everyone on the prospect’s side of the table.  Don’t fall into the trap of just connecting with the CEO.  You never know who will make the decision or how other people on the client’s team will influence that decision.  Some feedback I get from prospects when pitches go bad is that the pitch team only focused on the one in charge causing others to feel slighted.

Same is true on Zoom. When it is your turn to present, look into the lens. Nowhere else. 

Smile in a Pitch

Your goal in a pitch is to have the audience like you.  One step in that process is to smile. When you smile, they smile back.

Oh, and smile.

Delivering Bad News

Sometimes in a presentation you need to deliver bad news. Perhaps the budget isn’t going to work, or some facet of the plan can’t happen, or a valued partner changed his mind.  When is the best time in the presentation to deliver bad news?

In the beginning.

Getting bad news out in some portion of your opening serves a number of purposes: It positions you as an honest person with nothing to hide. It allows the client to evaluate whatever you are presenting in light of this bad news.  It gives you a chance to use the news to build your case in the pitch.

Pitch Like You’re Hungry

James Brown had a valuable piece of advice for young artists — Sing Like You’re Hungry.  I might suggest similar advice when pitching prospects.  This has to be done subtly. The pitch is still about the prospects and how they will benefit, but they need to know it is very important to you and that you’ve put your all into it.

Team Presentation Check List

Presenting as a Team- A Check list

☐ Rehearse as a team. Everyone has to show up.

☐ Plan what each person says in turning the presentation over to the next person.

☐ There is one theme and everyone speaks to it.

☐ Avoid repetitive comments.  Each person doesn’t have to thank the prospect, for example.

☐ If a person doesn’t have a speaking role, don’t take them.

☐ Make sure the people who will work most on the account speak the most.

☐ Don’t speak over a team member’s presentation to add stuff.

☐ Smile no matter how dumb a comment one of your team members makes.

Always End Early

You want the audience to love you and appreciate you and bring you back again and again?  Finish your presentation sooner than was planned.

You don’t need to finish a lot sooner.  But sooner. Even ending 5 minute early will be seen as a positive.  Conversely, going over time is very bad form. I attended a seminar put on by a  presentation training company and one of the main themes of the talk was how important it was to end your presentation within the time allotted.  The speaker ran over by 10 minutes!  We thought that was a) pretty funny, and, b) we’l;l never hire them.

Face to Face Marketing

Whether your marketing is B2B or  B2C, it doesn’t count until it is F2F. Face 2 Face.

Nothing important happens until you are face to face with your prospect presenting ideas in a strong voice, smile on your face and confident as hell.

How do you look confident? Strong posture, eye contact, smile. Get close to the prospect (respecting a zone of comfort).

Pitch With Your Ears

 When making a new business pitch… listen more, talk less.  Research shows that the more you can get the prospect talking, the better your chances of winning the business.  You’ll get the prospect talking by asking smart questions, such as those suggested in Spin Selling.  Don’t help the prospect answer questions.  Allow the prospect to answer.

Avoid Bizspeak. Talk regular.

Stop juicing your presentations with glib phrases like disruptive technologycutting edge, award winning, strategic partnership, synergy, win-win, at the end of the day, drill down, mission-critical, paradigm shift, value-added…

Research shows that the audience responds more favorably to short common words, than long, multi-syllable words. Talk like a regular person.

Focus your presentation.

Focus your presentation on one main point – The Takeaway.

Every sentence, story, aside, example, metaphor and analogy must support the single takeaway you want the audience to get.

Remove everything else. Be ruthless.

A short focused pitch is worth twice what a long, rambling one is worth.

BizDev Excuses

I have heard these pitch excuses 1,000 times.

The other guys have an in. They don’t like us. I get nervous in front of them.  Our work could be better. I wish we had more time to prepare.  The PowerPoint is boring. Our big idea is small. We don’t have enough detail. We have too much detail.  

When you are preparing for a pitch and someone is constantly telling everyone why you can’t win, throw him out of the room.

Instead tell me why you will win your pitch.

Add Creativity to Your Pitch

A strong presentation is 50% logic and 50% creative. The logic is the content which is easy to assemble and can usually be done quickly.

The creative element requires time. Percolate on the presentation for a day and look how to connect dots with interesting metaphors, analogies and stories, especially in the opening.

Pitch no-nos

3 Don’ts in a pitch

-Don’t start with the agenda

-Don’t begin by talking about yourself and your company

-Don’t open with a joke

Lessons from Losing a Pitch

If you lose a pitch have someone* call the prospect to ask specific questions about the pitch.  Did the team seem engaged? Were they interesting? Knowledgeable? Did they talk too much? Not enough?  What did other firms do better?  What one thing should they have done differently?

What you’ll learn will be gold.

*The best person to make this call is someone not associated with the pitch team and who remains neutral throughout the conversation.  It’s too late to be defensive.

Be Great, Not Perfect

Perfect is the Enemy of Great.

People sometimes get so fixated on making a perfect presentation that at the mere flub of a word they crumble. It isn’t worth it and the audience will never notice.  Make a great presentation. Not a perfect one.

Pitch Etiquette

It’s not uncommon when pitching in a team that one person who is not presenting keeps adding information to the person who is presenting. Don’t do this.  It’s distracting to the audience and throws the presenter off. Wait until the end of the segment to add the information, if you must.

Presentations Should Never Go Over Time

At a presentation skills seminar I attended the trainer said  “never run over your allotted time.  Especially in a business presentation, time is precious.”

I agree.

 PS: Her presentation ran 14 minutes over.

Where to Sit in a Pitch

When pitching a new client face to face, the most important people on your team should sit closest to the prospect.  Who are the most important? It varies by pitch, but if the reason for the pitch is for the client to get to know who she will be working with directly, then they are the ones who sit closest, and speak early in the presentation.

When running an interview on Zoom, make sure the key people do most of the talking.

Handling Q&As

Don’t let your pitch end at the Q&A segment.

Leave time at the very end to come back, reiterate the takeaway, thank everyone and ask for the business.

How To Make Your Business Development Interview Powerful

Nothing causes more anxiety than a new business pitch. The folks on your team want to win the business and not be the one who says the dumb thing that scuttles the effort.

Over the years I have been in hundreds of pitches and learned valuable lessons the hard way. Here’s a baker’s dozen of them:


What’s In It For Them?

Everything you say in a pitch should be framed as a benefit to the prospect.

-Don’t  give the history of your firm unless you can say why it is a benefit.

-Don’t introduce your team without explaining the benefit to the client of having those people.

A Pitch Blueprint

Most companies, when they open an interview, work from the left to the right.

Who  →    What   →    How →    Why

Companies that are consistently successful tend to open with the benefits the prospect will gain. Right to left. They start with the Why.

Here’s a blueprint for making a pitch…


Who Goes To a Pitch?

There’s a never-ending debate of how many should go, and who they should be.

Only the people who will have an active role in the pitch  should go to the pitch…with one exception.

If the only contact with the prospect is through a BD person, that person should go and start the meeting by making introductions.  Then, he is done and sits back for the rest of the meeting and the rest of the relationship.

The same is true in a Zoom interview.  The more people you bring, the smaller the video screens, the more confusion from too many people talking.

How To Be Persuasive

Most people try to be persuasive by giving a dozen reasons to buy their product.

Often it is the non-verbal things that are the deciding factors for your audience. People tend to buy from folks who appear confident.

The way to look confident is easy; have good posture, make eye contact, smile, speak in a strong voice and don’t be afraid to move your hands and arms.

The more confident you act, the more likely they will buy whatever you are selling.

 Business Pitches

A friend who shall remain nameless* wrote me the following:

Oh, I’ve been sitting in on presentations from very good agencies this week.  The sameness of them numbs me, however.

            We put clients first

            We have a passion for your business

            We have really really good media contacts

            We are clever problem solvers

Better to demonstrate these things as solutions to the prospect’s issues rather than say them.

* The fabulous Sally Jackson

How to Handle the Q and A Session

The Q and A session at the end of a pitch is an incredibly important part of the overall presentation and should not be left to chance.

Here are a dozen pointers to make your next Q and A a home run: www.jackerossin.com/great-qa-sessions-win-business/

All Pitches Have One Topic

The topic of a pitch should always be the same…how can the audience use your knowledge and experience to benefit their needs.  It’s always about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

Business People Should Be Storytellers

Storytelling is the most persuasive form of communications, yet, business people often shun being storytellers in presentations because they don’t see it as “serious” enough.

Start every presentation with a story.  It’s more interesting and will relax you.It makes the point in a more memorable manner.

Winning at Business Development 101

Your chances of winning a pitch will be much better if the prospect likes you.  Here’s how to do that.



-Make eye contact whenever you speak.

-Stay within your allotted time.

-Answer questions when asked. Really answer them. No double-talk.

-Follow up immediately after the meeting with answers to questions you didn’t know.

-Be a good host. Make them comfortable.  Have drinks and snacks.

There are 3 things a prospect is looking for: Can you solve my problem? Can you do it in a simple, uncluttered way that is easy for me? Do I like you?

The Do-I-Like you part is crucial, so do all of the things suggested at the top of this blog.

How To Prepare a Business Pitch

When preparing your next business pitch, try not to immediately write how you will open the presentation, or the bullet points you want to cover.  Instead, think of every conceivable question your audience might ask you.  That’s your presentation.

The opening will be what you think the audience would answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” That’s the only thing they care about. And, the only thing you should care about.

How to Ask for the Business

Even in workshops when practicing how to close an interview, people have trouble asking the prospect for business.  It’s just one of those things people hate to do.

But, if you don’t ask, then the answer is no. Some people start babbling.  They ask for the business but then keep chatting.  After you ask, stop talking.  It obligates the other side to respond.

Find a way to ask that is comfortable for you to say and then rehearse it.  For example, an ask can be: We enjoyed putting this demo together. Of course, we’d love to do real work for you. How do we go about doing that? Or, How do we move this conversation forward so that we might have a chance to work for you?

Ask and you shall be rewarded.

Focus on Prospect’s Problems

In a pitch, don’t waste time telling prospects how smart you are. Focus everything on the prospect’s problems.

They won’t start listening until you tell them how you will solve their problems.

We often want to brag about all of the bells and whistles our company can bring to the prospect.  We want to tell the prospect just how excited we are to be pitching the business.  None of this is heard very well by the prospect until you rephrase that language as a benefit to them.  This includes showing off how smart you are.  No one cares.  It never plays well.

Share Your Expertise

If you have an expertise, share lots of it freely with your audience.

They’ll value it enough to pay for more.

Offer to Help, Not Sell

There is a panhandler who calls himself The Town Crier. He constantly shouts at the top of his voice the time, weather, sports, major news stories, and lots more. The news is timely and useful.

I’ve noticed that The Town Crier’s cup is always filled with dollar bills. I often put one in. The other panhandlers have cups with a little loose change in them.

Sometimes in a pitch we focus too much on asking for the business and talking about ourselves. Create value by giving your audience information they can use, and even profit from. They will reward you with their business.

Get on with it, please!

I saw Monty Python’s John Cleese live the other night. At a Q&A session someone started by saying what an honor it was to be speaking to one of his all-time comedic heroes, etc. when Cleese interrupted and said in his best high-brow British “Get on with it, please”.

It reminds me of business pitches that start by telling the client how great they are, how smart they are, how excited we are to be here, etc. You can look into the clients’ eyes and see them thinking “Get on with it, please.”

Stop Selling

I suppose because we sometimes refer to meetings with prospects sales pitches, we’re selling our company and our differentiation.

Instead, focus on the prospect and their issues and offer ideas to help advance their business. If you have good ideas, they’ll hire you. If the ideas are differentiated, then they’ll understand your competitive advantage.

In the Opening of a Pitch, the Only Subject to Discuss is the Client

When a good server comes to your table he says two things: Welcome, and, can I get you a drink?

A bad server says: Welcome, here are today’s specials, can I get you a drink?

When you open a pitch be a good server. Attend to the client’s needs before you start selling your product.

Presentation Clarity Test

Here’s a good test of your next presentation. When it’s over will your audience know what you want and why they should agree?

Say ‘Cheese!’

Zoom, for better and worse, is becoming more and more prevalent. Eye contact still counts.  Look into the camera lens when you present. Your image on the other end will appear to be looking directly at your clients and coworkers.

Mix It Up

When making a presentation with lots of data and statistics, mix in a heavy dose of empathy. Use personal stories to make dull numbers come to life.

Presentation Tip: Negative Benefits

A powerful technique to use in an opening is to convey what the benefits are to the audience. Sometimes those benefits are negative.  Research indicates that people are more persuaded to protect that which they have than something they may get. They are more persuaded by “if you don’t do this you can lose 10% of your income” than by “do this and your salary will grow 10%”.



Zoom Presentations Require More Rehearsals

We’ve long known that when people make a presentation that is not in-person in front of others, that person rehearses LESS.  The reality is you need to rehearse more.  Even if you are presenting a PowerPoint , you need to think through and rehearse all of the animations and transitions that you should be building into the PowerPoint so that it is more effective on Zoom. 

Obviously it is valuable to rehearse the entire presentation a few times so that you feel comfortable, but, make time to nail down and feel good about your open and close.  That’s when the audience is paying their highest level of attention.

If you are presenting with others, it’s particularly important that you plan out the handovers so that the whole presentation runs smoothly asnd you don’t appear to be bumping into each other.

Create a Safe Rehearsal Zone

Rehearsal is extremely important.  It is equally important that everyone on the team feel they are in a safe environment to rehearse.  Safe means that they can fumble through ideas and concepts without people jumping on their every word. Safe means the leader is not trying to micro-manage the entire presentation and everyone’s part. Safe means that people can experiment with what they want to say and change what doesn’t resonate without feeling like a dope.

Fear of Public Speaking

People fear speaking in public more than death. (I’ve seen both things happen simultaneously in my workshops)

I have a theory based on my own speaking experiences. When I know the material, when I know everything about the material, I’m a pretty good presenter.  But, when I’ve memorized the presentation, then I’m nervous.  There’s a big difference between knowing and memorizing.

I get to know the material by discussing it, reviewing it, reworking it in rehearsals and presenting it over and over again —without a script—until I know it in my bones. I focus on the opening, because if I can get past that smoothly, the rest is cake.

You can’t avoid being nervous when giving a presentation, but you can feel very confident knowing the material better than anyone else in the room.

How to Win the Business Pitch

Recently someone told me that while they understand the importance of rehearsal, there is just never enough time to do it.  There’s hardly enough time to prepare the proposal and to think about the prospect’s challenges and solutions.

But, often what wins the pitch is the pitch.  All of the prep work you did needs to be choreographed into a seamless story that the client can grasp, appreciate and, recognize that it is coming from a well oiled team.  To do it best, everyone on the team needs to rehearse together.  Everyone has to make time.

If you don’t want to rehearse, or can’t do it, then don’t waste all of those hours and money preparing the presentation. Your chances of winning just dropped.

It seems crazy to put all of that time in schmoozing a prospect and investing in a proposal to waste it all because you couldn’t find time to rehearse.

Rehearse Like a Basketball Player

Professional athletes practice. They practice all of the time.  Even after playing 6 or 7 games in a row, basketball players come out the next morning to practice.

If you’re making a presentation you need to practice.  You need to think through all of your plays. How are you going to open?  What is the single big message you want people to take away? How will you summarize and what action will you ask of the audience?  Then you need to rehearse all of this in front of real people.

Now you’re ready for game day.

The Best Way to Rehearse

The best way to rehearse your presentation is in front of people. Any people.  Half of the reason we’re all so anxious about speaking in public is — the public. We worry about how our comments will be received, and if we look goofy saying them. So, while rehearsing in front of a mirror can help a bit, the best practice is in front of real people;  colleagues, spouses, children, strangers on the subway. On Zoom, you have the advantage of being able to connect with someone easily so that you can rehearse in front of them, and, you can record the session.  Watching yourself present will be an eye-opener. You’ll feel more confident.

Using notes in a presentation

The most frequently asked question in my workshop is whether the presenter can use notes or not.

If the notes are a couple of words to remind you of each topic you want to cover, then those notes could be helpful.

If the notes require that you constantly look down to keep your place in your presentation, then that’s a problem.  When you look down at your notes you can’t also keep eye contact with your audience.  You’re less interesting because you’re not thinking about what you’re saying, only about what you’re reading. You’re much more prone to get lost in your remarks because if you do lose to your place, you have no life-line. And, the audience loses interest in you when you don’t have eye contact.

Not using notes does require a certain amount of preparation and rehearsal, which most people hate to do.  But, if you’re going to all that trouble to put yourself on the line in front of others, why not invest the time to make yourself great.

Rehearse Transitions in a Presentation

One of the many reasons everyone needs to prepare and rehearse is to have intelligent transitions from one thought to the next.  You may know the subject matter cold, but unless you’ve planned the flow of your remarks, you can fall into an awkward pattern in which you repeat the same things over and over as you search for a bridge to the next part of your comments.

If you have properly revised your PowerPoint to make it works more effectively on Zoom, then you absolutely need to rehearse to coordinate with the various animations you inserted into the slides. 

Don’t assume because you know the topic that you know the speech.

Prepare and rehearse every time.

Video Your Presentation Rehearsals

Much of the work that goes into presentation skill training has to do with very basic techniques – volume, eye contact, posture, smiling, enunciation, etc.  These techniques are so basic that one client, a lawyer, questioned whether he should spend time working on them because he thought he had command of these things whenever he spoke.

But then, after he saw himself on video tape, he realized he didn’t do any of them.  In fact, he scowled and mumbled. His only eye contact was with the ceiling.

“Watching myself on tape changed my presentation style dramatically.  It was amazing.”

You’ll become a better, more powerful speaker fast when your training includes videotaping every exercise, and using the Zoom record system.

5 Body Language Techniques to Focus on in a Zoom Presentation

-Eye contact. Look at the lens of the camera as you speak, not the screen.

-Smile. It’s still an easy way to connect with the audience.

-Get Stoked.  Look like you want to be there.

-Volume. The audio is crucial in a Zoom presentation.  Use a microphone and headset.

-Postures/Gesture. Don’t sit slumped over when you present.  We encourage hand and gesture use, but keep your hands close to your body and don’t flail.   It makes you look wild on the screen.

How to Rehearse a Team Presentation

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”    Muhammad Ali.

Training.  Rehearsal. Same thing. Everyone needs to rehearse. And, everyone hates rehearsing. But, you got to.  If you are presenting with others, they should also be at the rehearsal.  Pay particular attention to how each person opens and closes their segment and how each person hands over to the next person.  If possible, rehearse without notes so you get to know the material and not memorize the script.

Thanks Champ.

Rehearse the Whole Pitch, Not Just Words

Try to rehearse your entire presentation, not just the words.  Rehearse how you will stand, gestures, pauses, theatrical embellishments. Rehearse how you will work the room with your eyes.  If you will be presenting seated, rehearse seated. Duplicate as much of the real situation as possible.

And, always rehearse in front of others.

Presentations Require Preparation

The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.

Bobby Knight, Basketball coach

 Behind every great presentation are lots of hours of preparation.  Lots and lots.

Helping Others Rehearse

If you are helping someone rehearse a presentation, follow Alex Haley’s advice: Find the good and praise it.

It’s more important to make the speaker confident than to nitpick a word or two.

Memory Technique

I’ve found it’s best to learn a speech point by point, not word for word.

–George Plimpton

Weeks of Prep, Minutes of Rehearsal

When I was in advertising, I saw that most teams spent weeks putting a campaign together and minutes thinking about how to present it to the client.

If you create brilliant work but have a dull presentation, it isn’t the client’s fault if they don’t buy it.

If it sounds like a speech, rewrite it.

Your presentation should sound like you, not like a formal, structured thesis.  You are best when you are you.  As you rehearse the text out loud if it doesn’t sound like the you we all know and love…start over.

Rehearsal Etiquette

When helping a colleague rehearse a presentation,  the more positive the discussion, the more positive the outcome.  The closer the rehearsal is to the actual presentation, the less critique and the more praise usually makes for a happier outcome.

How to Give a Presentation Without Note Cards

Instead of note cards use a process called chunking.  When we arrange information into groups, it’s easier to remember. That’s why a phone number is chunked into sections instead of one long 10 digest number.


Arrange the content of your presentation into 3 or 4 sections.  It will be a lot easier to remember, and easier for the audience to digest.

 If you need help call me.

Always Have a Dress Rehearsal

Rehearsals are valuable. The last rehearsal, the dress rehearsal, is particularly important.

Here is how to make that dress rehearsal more productive:
-Once you start the rehearsal, it’s game conditions. You don’t stop until the end.
-If someone flubs, they must keep going. In a real presentation you can’t start over.
-The time for comments and fine tuning is over. Be careful of changing any speakers content or role too close to the actual pitch.
-If you are presenting as a team, rehearse as a team.
-Rehearse in similar physical conditions to the real location. Sit and stand as you would in the real pitch. Ditto handovers.
-If using PowerPoint and other presentation visuals, who, on the pitch team, will control the remote and set-up.
-Everyone says their entire part, no “and then I’ll say yadda yadda yadda”
-Have people sit on the other side of the table to present to. If you are going to have a Q&A session, have those people ask questions.
-Check your timing when finished. Allowing for the Q&A period, your total time should never exceed the time allotted.

Finish the rehearsal positive and charged. Avoid laundry lists of criticism. If you are the pitch leader, smile, be positive and everyone will join you and think good thoughts.

Rehearse Like the Greats

The legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90. “Because, I think I’m making progress,” he replied.

You want to make a great presentation?

Practice. Practice, Practice, Practice.


Video Killed the Radio Star

In a recent class at Harvard, when we videotaped the presenters for their ‘final exercise’, something  amazing and reoccurring happened.  In a class of 24 doctors, each person commented on seeing something about their own body language that they had no idea they were doing.  What needed to be fixed was always easy to do; like smiling, eye contact, and posture.  Have a friend or coworker videotape your next rehearsal or presentation.  Use Zoom to record your next presentation rehearsal.

Presentation Tip: Rehearsals are Fail-proof, PowerPoint is not.

A former student wrote recently that during a presentation he was giving, the computer crashed. No PowerPoint! Luckily, he’d been taught how important rehearsing is. Not only did he nail his presentation, but afterward a number of colleagues congratulated him on one of his ‘best presentations yet’. This is an important lesson about presenting: Tech will always fail us; rehearsing never will.


Fighting Nerves

Fight Presentation Nerves

 If this is a Zoom presentation, go on the Zoom site a few minutes early and start chatting with people as they sign on. Just that chat will calm you down. This is like stretching before exercising.

 If someone asks you what you’re going to be talking about, tell them an abbreviated version of the opening.  It will make you much more comfortable and confident about the presentation, and you’ll have friendly faces in the audience who will encourage you.

Don’t jump into the PowerPoint immediately.  When you are ready to begin, give a casual opening about what they will see and why, then bring up the PowerPoint.  This allows you to connect with the audience further.

Fear of Public Speaking

People fear speaking in public more than death. (I’ve seen both things happen simultaneously in my workshops)

I have a theory based on my own speaking experiences. When I know the material, when I know everything about the material, I’m a pretty good presenter.  But, when I’ve memorized the presentation, then I’m nervous.  There’s a big difference between knowing and memorizing.

I get to know the material by discussing it, reviewing it, reworking it in rehearsals and presenting it over and over again —without a script—until I know it in my bones. I focus on the opening, because if I can get past that smoothly, the rest is cake.

One of the best techniques you can use to calm down is if this is a Zoom meeting, record your rehearsal.  That will actually make you more confident because most people see that they are already pretty good at this.

How to Be Less Nervous When Presenting

Here is a crazy tip for controlling your fears when presenting.  This technique will sound nuts, but it works.

When I wear a suit jacket or sport jacket, I’m less nervous. The jacket makes me feel grown-up and smart and protected. When I’m confident, I’m less nervous.

Before you speak, have a drink

When we get up to speak it’s not unusual to become dry-mouthed from the anxiety of being in front of a group.  Take a glass or bottle of water with you, or have a long sip before you speak.  When your mouth is dry it sets off a chain reaction of negative vibes.  Having water with you is also a good way to take a pause without looking like you’re lost.

Use a Conversational Open to Relax Yourself

We all get stage fright when making a presentation.  Fortunately, for most of us that nervousness can be controlled.

One trick to relax yourself is to use a conversational anecdote as a opening.  For example, perhaps you are at a conference and you’re the next speaker.  In your open you can talk about the general chatter that you’re hearing, or some famous celebrity you bumped into.  It’s not long open, perhaps 3 or 4 sentences, but it is enough to relax you so that when you launch into your real opening you are less nervous.

The nice thing about the conversational open is that it is usually of interest to the audience. As long as it doesn’t go on and on.

Any kind of talking prior to going up to the podium will also be a big help in relaxing you.  Just chatting with people in the audience, particularly about what you will be presenting, will make you more calm.  And, don’t forget to smile and use good posture. These are physical signs from your body to your brain that you are feeling confident.

How to Handle Presentation Nerves?

Everyone is nervous when making a presentation.  Everyone.  The question is how do you handle that anxiety.

try to be funny, which always gets me into trouble. Others talk non-stop, become repetitious, laugh at almost anything, speak very slowly, speak very quickly.

Get feedback from others on what you do. The next time you notice yourself doing it… pause. Take a few slow, rhythmic breaths and get back on your game.

For more tips on controlling nerves in a presentation, go to: www.jackerossin.com/stretch-mingle-talk/

A System for Controlling Your Nerves

Calm your sense of fear with slow, deliberate breaths.  Slower rhythm is better than deep breathing.  If you practice that every time you feel anxious (whether making a presentation or not) it will become a great tool to calm you down when you need to.

The Stage Fright Domino Effect

Everyone experiences anxiety when speaking in front of others.  Sometimes that anxiety can snowball.  We speak faster when nervous, which signals a heightened level of anxiety to the brain which makes us forget points to cover which makes us more uneasy.

When you feel the events starting to slip away, technique can help.  Slow down. Stand up straight. Look at everyone and smile. This tells your system you are back in control and to relax.

Presentations for Introverts

Introverts really do have a more difficult time making presentations but there are a few tips that would serve them well: Rehearse thoroughly.  Don’t go off script. Don’t ad lib. Start with a story.

One of the problems introverted speakers have is they read and react too much to the audiences’ facial expressions.  Just stay on script.

Signed, Jack (an introvert)

Stage Fright

The best advice to combat stage fright is to know the opening of your presentation better than you know your own name.  Know the opening like you know the Pledge of Allegiance, for example. It will give you incredible confidence and a lot less anxiety.

But, that’s only part of the story.  More….

Three Crazy Ways to Control  Presentation Jitters

1) Got presentation jitters? Blow on your thumb. “The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing,” says Ben Abo, an emergency medical-services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’ll get your heart rate back to normal.”From Men’s Health Magazine

2) Chew gum.  The activity seems to calm you down.  Just be sure to spit it out prior to show time. 

3) Curl your toes. You read this correctly.  It switches you attention from that which is making you nervous. I’ve heard back from my students it really works.

Stage Fright Starts the Night Before

For many people, stage fright starts the night before your presentation as you conjure up horror stories of what could go wrong.

When you realize you’re doing that, stop yourself.  Don’t let your nerves undermine your presentation and confidence.  Visualize success instead. See yourself wowing the audience.

Another Cause of Stage Fright

 The Spotlight Effect is that you believe everyone is hanging on your every word so that when you say the wrong thing the audience will be critical.  Reality: The audience doesn’t listen that closely. Ever.

Science-based Way To Handle Nerves in a Presentation

Feeling nervous? Don’t bother calming down. You’re better off getting excited, according to a new study from Harvard Business School.

Participants in several anxiety-inducing experiments consistently performed better when prompted to get excited rather than to relax, the study found. For example, people told to say “I am excited” before delivering a public speech gave longer, more competent presentations and appeared more relaxed than speakers told to say “I am calm.” The shift from anxiety to excitement may be eased by the fact that both are highly aroused states, suggested the author of the study, published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Passion Controls Nerves

When you speak with passion, it’s likely that you’ll feel less nervous.

Take whatever you are presenting and start with the part that you are most passionate about.  You’ll be less nervous and the audience will be more attuned.

This Is Not Acting

When you are acting, it is important to remember your lines and know your partners lines so you know when to step in.  In giving a presentation, don’t memorize your lines. It’s a conversation.  If you say the wrong things most people won’t even notice. 

 Boo! A Halloween Tip

One of the fascinating things about public speaking is that when shy speakers are asked to wear a mask, they become dynamic speakers. They lose their inhibitions and turn on their passion.

The challenge for all of us is to wear a mask to every business presentation without anyone knowing.