I must first confess my love of Formula 1 racing before I begin writing this post. I have been a huge fan of Formula 1 since the early 1990s when Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna were drivers, and I remember the tragic accident in 1994 when Ayrton Senna died.
Photo courtesy of Flickr creative commons - Photo owned by fox2mike
Yesterday saw the opening of the 2010 Formula 1 Grand Prix, and as usual I was sat riveted to my seat watching both the qualifying and the race. While I was watching it I was struck by the awesomeness of the pit crews. (For those of you wondering what a pit crew is – the pit crew are the people responsible for changing the tyres on the car when it comes in for a pit stop) The pit crews involved in yesterday’s Bahrainian Grand Prix, were changing four tyres in less than four seconds! – that is incredible.
But this got me thinking – how do you prepare for such a high pressure event, where just one simple mistake can cost your team a winning race? The simple answer is practice. Pit crews of all the teams involved in the world of Formula 1 practice, practice and practice again until they can do the tyre change with their eyes shut. They even practice for things going wrong. They simulate problems and they work out the best and quickest solutions to these problems, then they practice handling these problems over and over again until they can deal with the problem in the quickest possible time.
When we do a presentation, quite often there is a team of people involved. You may be the presenter, the driver, but behind you are the people who are making the projector work, your computer sing and for large events someone ensuring that your audience are comfortable. These people are your pit crew.
I wonder how many companies involved in giving presentations today, think about the people who are making sure everything works? How many of these companies have their ‘technical’ staff practice for when things go wrong? My guess in pretty much none of them.
And therein lies a problem. In today’s world we need to be well practiced – and that includes you, the presenter, we need to be prepared for anything and we need to know what to do when things go wrong. We need to work together as a team, because quite often when we present to a customer, the prize for success can run into millions of dollars.
So next time you present, make sure that your team is prepared, practiced as much as you, and ready for anything. Not only will you look incredibly professional, but you will dramatically improve you presentation success.