It’s a Performance Not a Presentation

I’ve just finished listening to a couple sales pitches I gave last week.
Wait? That’s not how you spend your Monday afternoons?

Let’s be real, I hate listening to myself. You probably do too.

I mean it might be okay if I sounded cooler like James Earl Jones, or spoke in a lower octave or had that suave Aussie accent all the ladies love. Alas this was not the voice dealt to me… Even still, I record my sales calls and presentations and attempt to listen to them at least once a week. You should too.

Now if listening to yourself is so much “fun,” you might be questioning why in the world you should put yourself through the experience?

Because there’s profit in the pain… that’s why. Here are some other reasons:

Greatness Doesn’t Just Happen
I’m not sure it’s as big a thing now with the ability to auto tune and correct in the studio, but there are countless stories of mega-star vocalists like Michael Jackson and Karen Carpenter who grew in notoriety for being able to enter a studio and record a flawless track on their first attempt. But the “E-True Hollywood Story” about these unbelievably talented people is that laying down a flawless track doesn’t just happen. Even for them. In fact, they became known for recording and filming their practice performances. They then critiqued what they heard and saw. Critiqued what they re-recorded and filmed further. And then did it all again… Until it was flawless. Even for them the process must have been revealing and painful, but it was a habit that put them on a path to iterative improvement and elevated their status to one of music folklore. Reading stories like these many years ago is what started me listening to myself. It led me to stop looking at a presentation as just a presentation, and to start considering it
a performance.

Woulda Coulda Shoulda?
Maybe you’re like me and you replay what you said in your head and think of all the ways you woulda, coulda or shoulda answered a question or responded to a situation. How many times have you wished you could have done that, but didn’t have a recording? (Yes, discussions with your spouse totally count!) By listening to your past performances you get the chance to hear how every moment actually went down, compile a better answer and work that into your future attempts. That’s pretty great!

I’ve also noticed that the way I remembered things going is not exactly how it replays when I get the opportunity to listen to it. Having a recording solidifies what was said and how it was said… and sometimes things actually go better than you remember them going. Not to mention that you can actually sit back as a participant and attempt to objectively listen to what you said … as well as, listen – really listen – to what the other parties said. This is an excellent source to uncover what they (and future clients like them) value, and ensure that those pieces of information are highlighted the next time you have the opportunity to discuss a similar topic.

Aspiration Becomes Belief
I get the opportunity to tell people what our agency does on a fairly frequent basis. And if practice makes perfect, well, let’s just say I feel good about the story I get to share. As I’ve listened to feedback and my presentation of certain areas I’m continually adapting my story, working to amplify the things that make us different and providing reasons to believe. The interesting thing is that having heard myself give the talk so often it’s more than a slide, campaign or concept to me… it’s absolutely what I believe. And when I’m confident in what I believe I am better able to passionately communicate a message that listeners enjoy hearing. AND I’m inspired to make sure that operationally what I’m communicating remains true so that I can continue passionately communicating it. It’s a terrific, vicious cycle that makes us better in the end.

Ready. Set. Record.
If you have a smartphone or laptop, you most likely have a recording device right at your fingertips that’s easy to use. If you participate in a lot of phone conversations or pitch services over the phone, I’d also recommend that you enable the recording function on your conference call line and have the recording delivered to your email box for later listening.

Recording your presentations may seem strange, and yeah, you’ll probably cringe as you listen back to them, but sometimes what is painful can be profitable. You can thank me later.