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Presentation Skills Lessons from Tarzan

Categories: Business Presentations

How can a classic cartoon impact your business success? A story from Tarzan...

In the first scene, Tarzan just learned that Jane is in the jungle and he’s excited to meet her, but very nervous -- just like many of us are before an important meeting or presentation.

He wants to make a great first impression – apparently even a guy in the jungle knows how important that is! So, Tarzan decides to practice his lines … silently. In his head.

“Hi Jane, I’m Tarzan. How you doin’? I hear you’re from London. You know, I’m from London originally, too. You’re going to love it here; no more cold, dreary London weather. I’d love to show you around the place if you’re comfortable with that.”

Tarzan runs through that scenario a couple of times in his mind, and he thinks he’s ready. He’s suave. He’s got game. He takes a deep breath, swings tree limb to tree limb, and lands directly across from Jane.

What comes out of his mouth?

“Me, Tarzan. You, Jane.”

And that’s it! The last frame of the cartoon shows him beating his head against a tree limb, moaning, “I can’t believe I just said that.”

Of course, he intended to be a lot smoother, a lot more articulate than that now-famous line. Can you relate? Have you ever been brilliantly articulate in your head, but when you opened your mouth, the words that came out were not nearly as brilliant as you imagined?

Just like Tarzan, many of us believe that if we practice our presentation in our head, and it sounds smooth, then we’re ready to go.

There’s another method to practice, a more effective way -- out loud.

I always practice out loud AND in front of a mirror. It allows you to observe your body language and notice whether you are fidgeting.

Here are 3 more tips for practicing your next presentation:

  1. Don’t memorize your message. It may come across as stilted. Instead, practice getting your points across with different wording every time. This will sound more natural and conversational.
  2. Record your presentation and listen to it. Jot down any rough spots, new ideas, or parts that need work. Polish it and practice and record again.
  3. Pay attention to timing. Your actual presentation will take more time than practice sessions. Your practice time should only run between 25% to 75% of the allotted time, depending on whether you will take questions or include audience interaction.

Following these steps, you will avoid Tarzan's mistake, and sound eloquent and articulate out loud.

Do you have any favorite cartoons that you connect to business applications?

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