When doing a pitch, presentation or anything to an audience: what are you thinking about?
When doing presentations, I’m that guy who tends to stand up, come across confident in my style (…hopefully..) but in my mind, I was scanning. Not for those smiles, nods and faces of curiosity. I was scanning for the frown, the shake of the head or the bored sigh.
In fact, I explicitly remember one session I delivered in a high school down in Ayrshire to staff. Jumping right to the end, feedback was very positive…but my experience was totally different.
In the 80 or so faces, there was just ONE that was standing out. It was a wee bald guy in the back right of the audience who was frowning and looked angry. Of course, he may have been angry about anything. Perhaps he’d received frustrating news from home before the workshop. Perhaps he had an argument with the head teacher. Perhaps he had a high workload at the moment.
Either way, as a presenter, in that moment, the simple fact is that you do not know. Anything you conclude is simply a story, a fabrication of your reality to fit the dots. And, depending on what you’re trying to control for in any performance situation, you can use it to your advantage or it can throw you.
In that situation, the frowns were an opportunity to close the gap. To make a connection. Somehow. Gauging his reaction to certain jokes, certain comments. What breaks the frown, even producing a smirk? What if I try to acknowledge him during the coaching elements of the workshop – would that work?
Here lies a huge benefit of Spotlight Profiling. Spotlight considers not just your behavioural style when there’s something to win or lose. It also considers your mindset. That is, it considers what you’re trying to control for, emotionally in these moments. Do you solely focus on saying what you planned, regardless of audience expressions? Or are you looking for the those grins, nods and curiously engaged faces? Or the possible threats to a successful presentation? Or both nods and the frowns?
By understanding our mindset when performing, we gain insights into how they serve as strengths or, if over played, become our weaknesses. In my case, it’s a fine line between proactive problem solving to crack the frown and carrying it with you, feeling you’ve not performed well.
To return to our guy, he didn’t smile. You win some and lose some but his face is etched in my memory.
To explore how you change when there’s something to win or lose, check out the Spotlight Profiling page.