Slay the Impromptu Dragon!

Has this ever happened to you? Maria arrived at work early, got a cup of coffee and settled into tackling her highest priority task of the day. When, out of nowhere, her boss Tony approached her cubicle and asked the question that strikes fear in the hearts most of employees, ‘Hi Maria … you busy?’

Without waiting for an answer, he indicated that some of the executives from Glitztronics were in for a project status review meeting. Andy, the team lead, had just called in sick, so Tony asked her to fill in and do a five-minute quickie overview for them … right now. ‘After all’, he said, ‘you’re the senior member of the project team anyway.’

Instant stress, panic and fear would overtake most people in a similar situation. They couldn’t say no, but would be terrified that they’d blow it and look foolish in front of their clients … and their boss. Not Dragon-Slayer Maria … she’s a real pro at workplace presentations.

Impromptu presentations can be the workplace communicator’s worst nightmare … if you let them. But, having a ‘what if’ plan for just such emergencies can save the day.

Here’s what Maria did to Slay the Dragon:

First, she took a deep breath, smiled at Tony and told him she’d be happy to help out with a tone of confidence, even appreciation.

Maria then asked him what three or four brief talking points he wanted her to discuss and who specifically would be in the room.

She jotted down some quick notes and followed him down the hall.

Tony briefly introduced Maria, indicating she was filling in for the absent Andy and turned the meeting over to her. And she had them at ‘hello’.

She welcomed the clients, said she was delighted to give them a brief project status and discuss its background, current activity and next series of milestones.

Then, Maria did a very smart thing … she asked them if that agenda worked for their needs and if anyone had any specific questions they wanted to make sure got addressed.

Since she hadn’t even seen Andy’s slides, she didn’t use any.

She simply did a brief review of the project and asked if they had any other questions. In her quick summary, Maria thanked them again for the opportunity to work with Glitztronics and said she looked forward to their next meeting.

So, you can all learn from a pro like Maria and Slay Your Impromptu Dragon. Have a basic structure in mind that can quickly adapt to most any topic and quickly decide on content points and support facts as you walk down the hall. Project confidence, enthusiasm and enjoyment, especially if you’re faking it, and never let them see you sweat.

Hey … it worked very well for Maria. She got applause from the clients and glowing comments from Tony, who didn’t forget her stepping up at performance review time.