Are you winging it?

1 The other day I was reading an excellent blog post about the effectiveness of Steve Jobs’ presentations. The writer accurately suggested that part of Jobs’ success was the visual component because he knew exactly how to create a compelling presentation on Keynote (Apple’s version of PowerPoint).

A reader of the blog commented with the following statement…

“I have a presentation tomorrow morning to a group of new employees at our company. I have given it once before, about 3-4 months ago. I worked for a while on it them, and it went well. So I was going to wing it this time. But after reading this, I spent a few minutes reviewing it to ensure I bring the enthusiasm to it that our new employees deserve.”


Just because you delivered a presentation ONCE, several months ago doesn’t mean you should wing it. I don’t believe you should EVER deliver any type of presentation without first rehearsing it. And spending a few minutes reviewing does not count as rehearsal!

When a company hires me to deliver a keynote speech at a conference or sales meeting, I run through my presentation up to ten times prior to the actual day of the conference. I don’t memorize every word but I do make sure that all of the points flow properly together and that I remember the key points and examples I want to make.

Sales presentations deserve the same attention

Rehearsal helps to ensure that your presentation flows logically from one point to the next. You can ensure that the key points are properly addressed.

As you practice you can think of potential objections and address them directly in your presentation. You can also time your presentation to make sure that you finish ahead of schedule

Rehearsal also gives you the opportunity to run through your slide deck and update any slides that are outdated or no longer relevant.

Recipe for disaster

Winging a sales presentation is a recipe for disaster, regardless of how experienced you are.

I have conducted countless sales meetings and still make sure that I run through my presentation a few times beforehand to ensure that I am prepared.

But…I learned this the hard way…

Last year I was invited to conduct a sales presentation for several days of sales training. Because I knew the company and the people and had worked with them before, I didn’t rehearse my presentation. I figured I could wing it.

BIG mistake!

Shortly after I began I noticed a typo on one of the slides. Then, someone asked me a question I hadn’t anticipated (although I should have) and I faltered in my response. When I left their office I couldn’t help but shake my head at my poor performance.

Don’t wing it

The next time you catch yourself thinking, “I’ve done that presentation before so I can wing it” remember that your prospects deserve more. Plus, you also give a competitor who doesn’t wing it a better chance to capture that sales opportunity.


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