Presentation Skills

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to be an operator on a conference call. When I learned who the guest speaker was, it shook me up a bit. Getting to speak to the person with this title was (literally) a dream come true. When I learned who the speaker was, here’s what happened to me:

Client: “And when Mr. last name joins, just introduce yourself so he knows who he’s talking to.”

Me: *thinking* as in Mr. last name, who is the title… Are you for real? “Sure that is no problem.”

What the client couldn’t see would be me suddenly glancing again at all the details of the call so that I didn’t mess it up. Butterflies were fluttering in my stomach, my palms got kind of sweaty, and when I get nervous there’s a little bit of a tingle in my tongue. It feels a little bit like I’m going to throw up – oh, yeah I went there. Who hasn’t been there? Anyone who’s ever been in front of a group of people has felt the nerves tightening in their chest and the fear of messing up in your throat. There’s no real difference between being in front of a live group and being over a conference call. I am sure I could have charmed Mr. with a smile, but all I had to give him was a good voice and a strong opening. When you take out that personal element, it makes it harder to make a good impression. Any time you’re on a conference you are going to lose that element of making eye contact with someone and easing them with a smile. When you’re nervous, it only makes it worse.

Here are presentation skills for hosting a conference call (or even operating one with title.)

  • Put cell phones on silent.
  • Resist the urge to multitask.
  • Find a quiet place and close the doors.
  • Have a back up plan for slide presentations.
  • Fully charge laptop batteries and have your power cord ready – just in case.

Also, don’t forget the Golden Rule of Presenting: You should never read word for word from a printed out document or slide show.

What kinds of things do you do before a conference call to relax and get your head together? Nerves are natural, but no one has to know you feel that way. How do you get yourself into the right frame of mind before taking the stage?

(Ps – In case anyone was wondering, Mr. last name was polite and I didn’t make a fool of myself)