Many people find meetings nerve-wracking, but the stakes (and the stress) can be even higher when you’ve travelled for a big event, whether you’re going to see other departments of your own company or a client.
If you’re asked to present at this kind of event, it can be a major boost to your career progression. However, a high profile presentation can also throw up a number of pitfalls, and even damage your reputation within the company.
This means that it is essential to take the time to prepare properly, so that you can give the best performance possible on the big day. The first rule is to know your subject as well as you possibly can. Sadly, there are very few shortcuts when it comes to research, so be prepared to put the hours in!
When it comes to your notes, many people are reluctant to have much beyond a few bullet points. However, if you are easily flustered, then you may be better off using a full transcript of what you plan to say, as it is better to read competently than to flounder under pressure. That said, it is better to look at your audience as often as you can, as this helps to build a connection between you.
Once you’ve given an excellent presentation, you will almost certainly have to deal with questions from your listeners. If you felt the need for a fully scripted speech, then you may find this prospect intimidating. It can help if you try to anticipate some of the most obvious questions, and think of what you plan to say in response. Once the first few questions are out of the way, a natural (albeit structured) conversation should have been established, and things will get much easier.
Just remember that it can be easy to get too focused on what you are going to say, and forget to listen to the other people in the meeting. Even if you suffer from nerves, try to take notes, as you never know when a vital insight is going to be revealed.