In addition to helping entrepreneurs develop charismatic confidence to grow their businesses faster, I also help Hollywood celebrities and other entertainment industry leaders launch their careers, reach Oscar winning performances, and present at all the major award shows.
Most intelligent people assume backstage at the Oscars is rather hectic. Little do they know, behind the scenes of this elegant show feels like a SWAT team has infiltrated the Olympic Games with the cast of Dance Moms wandering around.
This militant chaos creates an even heightened sense of pressure for those presenting to a packed house of 3,400, as the show streams to an audience of around 65 million.
Pressure is a natural component in the lives of highly successful people, but even for my most successful celebrity clients, presenting at the Oscars is a level of pressure that is just unnatural.
With a live show, and only one chance to get their performance right, presenters know that any mistake could mean lasting public humiliation, hotly discussed in the blogosphere and transformed into memes or gifs, all living eternally on the Internet.
There are times when the pressure and stakes are so high; any slip may cause career repercussions for years to come.
Unnatural pressure offers you a rare opportunity to thrive in a way you’ve never experienced. It’s more than just big risk, big reward–this type of tension is like injecting yourself with an intergalactic shot of platinum B-12: your body is either going to absorb it and transform, or you’re going to feel sick.
Whether you’re meeting with a panel of angel investors, speaking before an angry board or thousands of disappointed investors, here are some guidelines to load the dice in your favor.
Cover Your Basics
Know what you’re going to say: be memorized but don’t sound memorized. Rigid memorization makes you appear amateur and lacking in confidence. Each sentence should naturally follow the next one as if naturally occurring to you in the moment.
If you need a life-preserver, bring note cards or use the teleprompter (only if you’ve had teleprompter training and can do it with ease). Some of my clients just write a bullet-point list of words on their hand to remind them of their talking points.
Bring Your Personality to Your Words
The key to not sounding overly-rehearsed is the ability to bring your unique self to your words. It should feel like you.
Pinpoint your hook and let it launch you into the moment, allowing your personality to shine through. A hook is what I help my clients distill to crush any presentation with remarkable ease and fun. It’s a feeling, word, or body attitude that is specific to you, and instantly lights you up emotionally –it prevents you from looking over-rehearsed and lets your authentic self shine through.
It’s a Privilege to Be This Uncomfortable
The fact that you’re under this much pressure means that you’ve accomplished a lot that many haven’t. Sure you’ve worked hard, but you’ve also received breaks from lady luck and opportunities others have not.
Resist the urge to show any resentment of the pressure, through eyebrow movements or eye rolls or sarcastic remarks. It can make you look weak, petty or condescending.
Practice Fielding Your Worst Question
Many of my clients have to give presentations that broadcast globally and then field intensive Q&A sessions where a live audience grills them. Figure out your nightmare question(s) that you pray no one asks and fine-tune a solid answer to it.
Having a plan for a worst-case scenario will give a tremendous amount of confidence.
Be Ready for Anything
When people in the audience see you this vulnerable, someone might try and take a swing at you. Most professionals are content to ignore these interruptions, but that’s actually a 50-50 strategy. Sometimes it makes you look professional; sometimes it makes you look like you’re just dodging conflict.
Have a few responses ready for these situations and then decide what to do in the moment, by reading the room.
Your preparation has a tremendous impact on how much you will flourish under this unnatural pressure.
The better prepared you are, the more you will be able to confront these high stakes with confidence, hitting even the most curved pitches with an effortless and smooth swing.