Learn to Relax in High Pressure Situations and You Just Might Win More Business
by Jeff Davidson on
You have a big presentation forthcoming that might enable you to land a huge client for your firm. Are you sufficiently relaxed to be at your best? Let me offer a story and some observations that drive home a crucial point.
Years back, I accompanied my good buddies Don and Dennis to a three-day camping event in West Virginia. We made the two-hour drive to West Virginia, and there met dozens of others who were also taking part in this festive weekend.
When Don met Ann
While we were there, I discovered that Ann, a woman I had met weeks earlier, was part of the event. Ann was a catch. Jet black hair, slender, smart (a Ph.D. in education), a great personality: the whole package. Alas, she was five years my senior.
Don had been divorced for a few years. I knew he was seeking the right woman, and I thought that Ann and Don might hit it off. Within the first hour at the campsite, after everyone was assembled, I introduced them. They appeared to take to each other immediately. Interestingly, Don took everything in stride. He did not try to impress Ann, hog the time with her, or do anything that guys typically do to impress a woman. Rather, Don had an almost relaxed attitude about their encounter.
Throughout the weekend, during those times that I saw Don and Ann converse, he seemed to maintain the same relaxed posture. When I asked him about it privately, he said he didn't notice he was doing anything differently from when he meets others. Yes, he was attracted to Ann, and yes, he would like to know more about her, but there was no need to get overly-excited. Until then, I had not witnessed such behavior. Don was comfortable with himself, was interested in getting to know Ann, and had no need to come on strong.
Relaxing at High Speed
Years later, while watching the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan during an NBA basketball game, I noticed something in Jordan that I hadn't seen in other players. During the game's particularly tense moments, he seemed to maintain a relaxed posture. When the other team had the ball, he was ready to pounce. Yet, even during critical moments within the game, while maintaining his ready position, he had an air of relaxation. I recalled Don and his approach in getting to know Ann.
Don and Ann started dating after that weekend, and within the year were married. Thirty years and many children later, they are still happy together. What did Michael Jordan on the basketball court and Don in meeting Ann know about effective performance that could benefit us all?
Maintaining one's bearings, even in situations that would make most people tense or anxious, gives one a decided advantage, especially in a competitive situation.
During several Summer Olympics, I saw gold medalist Michael Phelps take a similar approach each time he stood on the starting block before a race. Phelps had every anatomical advantage a swimmer could have, plus he was relentless in his pursuit of swimming mastery. He knew he was good, and he knew he had the ability to draw upon the best of himself in race after race.
As he awaited for the starter's gun, compared to the other swimmers, he had an air of relaxation. Like Michael Jordan, basketball's greatest wizard, and like Don in meeting the woman who turned out to be the love of his life, Michael Phelps remained relatively calm and collected at an otherwise intense moment, and made it work to his supreme advantage.
Applying the Lessons
I have learned from these masters. When I am about to speak to a group at a conference or convention, whether there are 20, 200, or 2,000 people in attendance, I draw upon what I have observed, namely the importance of remaining relaxed. I know that the speech is going to go well, not out of overconfidence or arrogance, but because I have done my homework and am prepared. I have performed well so many times before, and the odds are incredibly in my favor that I will perform well again. So, why not be relaxed?
After I am announced, I come up to the stage, and rather than launching into my presentation, I pause for a few moments. I scan the crowd and drink in the moment. I appreciate my surroundings and the opportunity that lies before me. Then, when I'm ready, and not a nanosecond before, I begin to speak. So too, when you face an important prospect, slow down, relax, smile, and give’m your best pitch.
You may like these other stories...
Former DOJ Tax Division head Kathryn Keneally joining DLA Piper in New YorkGlobal law firm DLA Piper announced on Thursday that Kathryn Keneally, the former head of the US Justice Department Tax Division, is joining the firm...
Event Date: October 21, 2014, 2 pm ETKristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience’s communication style. When two people have very different communication...
Expense reports are a fact of life for any business that sends employees to visit clients, other offices, or trade conferences. While most employees are honest and abide by corporate rules, there are enough dishonest ones to...
Upcoming CPE Webinars
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience's communication style.
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.