Prepare for Success: Pressure Test Your Presentation

You worked really hard on your presentation.

You practiced it multiple times end-to-end. You feel good. You look great. You got this.

Suddenly, your presentation time gets cut from 60 minutes to 10.

“Sorry about that—the group’s running behind schedule,” you’re told.


What Do You Do?

Moments like this can catch anyone by surprise.

Imagine another scenario. You walk into an executive’s office with your deck of 15 slides, carefully crafted to show the rationale for your complex recommendation.

After exchanging pleasantries, the executive says:

“Do me a favor.  Skip ahead to your last slide—the one with your recommendation on it. Let’s just talk about why I should say yes to this.”

In high stakes settings, especially when senior executives are involved, sudden changes like these happen all the time. When they do, you’re left with no choice but to collect your thoughts, open your mouth, and start talking.

Will You Be Ready?

The trick is to be ready for these moments before they happen.

Ask yourself, “Is my presentation bulletproof?”

Has it been carefully thought through, planned, and practiced with the unpredictability of the real world in mind?

If no or you’re unsure, eliminate any doubt by applying the Pressure Test.

Pressure Test Your Presentations

At Mandel, we believe that clear communication is a sign of clear thinking.

That’s why our focus is on helping professionals Think and Speak for Results™ in almost any business situation they find themselves—whether crafting an email or presenting to an audience of thousands.

Both, the integrity of your thinking and your ability to express those thoughts, are vital to your success—particularly when the stakes are high and the pressure is on.

To be sure you’re ready, put your thinking and your speaking to the test.

How to Pressure Test Your Thinking

Ask yourself (or better yet, ask an objective and trusted observer):

  • Is my thinking conceptually wide enough and deep enough? Is it relevant to this situation? Is it logically sound?
  • Is my content linked at all points in my presentation to my listeners’ interests, needs, and wants (i.e., “care-abouts”)—and not to my own?
  • Is my content flow designed to capitalize on how human beings best comprehend and process information—especially as attention spans shrink?

After making the improvements needed to answer a solid “YES!” to these three THINKING questions, next focus on your SPEAKING skills.

How to Pressure Test Your Speaking

Net out your presentation verbally in less than three minutes, without any notes or slides.

Then, answer the following:

  • Am I concise and clear?
  • Do I sound conversational and not rehearsed?
  • Do I appear composed?
  • Do I seem credible?
  • Did I appeal strongly enough to my listeners’ interests, needs, and wants that they’ll find it immediately useful and want to hear more on the spot?

Because it can be difficult to judge your own performance, work with and get the opinion of a practice partner, objective observer, or coach to objectively score this Pressure Test.

The Result

If your presentation—both your THINKING and SPEAKING—passes the Pressure Test, you’ll have put yourself in a position to tackle any surprise or sudden shift that comes your way.

Knowing you possess the flexibility to adapt your communication to any situation puts you in a position of power.

Now, you can walk into your meeting or your event with the full confidence that whatever gets thrown at you, you can handle it.

And if no surprises pop up, you’ll be even more effective presenting it as originally intended, slides and all!

Learn More

Get a “Yes” to every single one of the 3 THINKING questions. Get your SCI-PAB® pocket prompt. SCI-PAB is Mandel’s 6-step easy-to-use communication method for creating powerful messages and presentations.

Or, are you ready to take your communication skills to the next level? Enroll in Mandel’s flagship training workshop Think & Speak for Results™ to master the skills vital to your success.

Heather Muir

Heather Muir

As Vice President of Marketing, Heather directs Mandel’s marketing, branding, and communications strategies in collaboration with the Executive Team. In addition, Heather leads Mandel’s public- and industry-relations activities. Prior to joining Mandel in 2010, Heather held several marketing and communications roles within the learning and training industry. She is also an active member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Training Industry, Inc.; eLearningGuild; and the Association of Briefing Program Managers (ABPM). Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis, and has completed graduate courses in business and entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.
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