Football Fan’s Guide to Winning Presentations, Part II

The Business Journal of Phoenix – February 2, 2007

How many times have you been about to give a presentation or meet with a client and you just weren’t feeling in “In the Zone?” What elements are necessary to get there?

Here’s an acronym for how to change your state of mind: ZONE, which stands for:

Zeal — Eagerness, enthusiasm, intensity, passion.

Openness — Release perceived limitations and be open to infinite possibilities

N — In the present moment.

E — Energy.

Many of us had the opportunity to watch the Bowl Championship Series football game at the University of Phoenix Stadium Jan. 8 between the University of Florida and Ohio State University. I have to admit that I was hoping for a game that matched the intensity and drama of the Fiesta Bowl match-up between Oklahoma and Boise State universities a few days earlier.

I wish I had recorded the opening sequence, because what I saw was profound.

On the big screen: the Florida Gators in the tunnel getting ready to rush onto the field. They were pumped up! The team was jumping up and down with an enthusiasm, passion and excitement that showed they were ready. They couldn’t wait to show the doubters that they deserved to be playing in the BCS.

The next shot, showed the Ohio State Buckeyes in another tunnel. They appeared surprisingly calm, lifeless, flat and unenthusiastic. There was no energy, no passion.

Up until that moment, I thought Ohio State would win the game. But, I turned to my friend and said, “I think Florida is going to take it.”

And they did.

Each team played the game with the same gusto they showed in the moments before kickoff.

It is the same for presenters.

The attitude, enthusiasm and energy you bring to your presentation will impact your performance. The past is gone and the future isn’t here yet. Thinking about either keeps you out of the “zone.”

Being “In the Zone” means you have done all you can to prepare for the possibilities ahead and you are willing to be fully in the present.

Here are few ways to get in the presentation zone:

Visualize success. Begin visualizing long before presentation day. Hear yourself and see yourself going through it from beginning to end. Feel yourself entering the presentation room confident and well-prepared. Observe the supportive and engaged audience as you speak. See yourself leaving the presentation feeling good about what you have accomplished and enjoying the rewards of a job well-done.

Stop and breathe. We all are so busy multitasking that sometimes, it just takes a minute to slow down.

Music is a great way to quickly shift to the presentation zone. Create a CD that gives focus, clarity and energy. A word of caution — stay away from the tunes that are aggressive and edgy — you don’t want to bring that to a presentation.

Create a mantra that will guide your thoughts somewhere more desirable and purposeful. One that I have used is, “May I be of value?” Pick one that is succinct and works to refocus you. During a presentation, you can say it silently to yourself to get back on track if you get out of the zone.

Refocus and regroup. You can’t get in the zone or be in the zone focused on oneself. Shift your focus to what is before you — connecting with your audience. By shifting your attention and intention to giving to your audience, you will be better able to get in the zone.

Get physical. Before your presentation, find a safe place — a parking lot, a park, your office — and move around. Get your blood pumping. A presentation team I worked with got a Nerf football and would toss it around for five minutes before going to the presentation