The concept of perfection in science is prolific. You want your research to suggest that your drug, therapy, etc. will work 100% of the time. That is impossible, but the goal is to get it as close as possible to every time on every patient with the fewest side effects. Most scientists in startups began as highly successful students who experienced some success at larger biotech companies or post-doc labs and then ventured out on their own. It’s in your makeup to win, to be successful in research, and to strive for perfection. Unfortunately, you are in business, where perfection is unattainable and often stands in the way of success. In a Huffington Post article published in 2013 by Carolyn Gregoire, she explains that the research on success shows that a focus on perfection correlates to a high amount of failure.
Since failure is not an option when it comes to funding, the goal is to mediate the anxiety that surrounds this contradiction between scientific training/success and business expectation. This anxiety correlates to a fear of speaking. I am not suggesting that anyone is afraid to talk to people, but that this speaking environment creates a fear response in us. This response can make us put off practice, focus on content and structure rather than delivery, and exhibit physical reactions – physically shaking, not breathing effectively, and potentially changing how we would normally speak.
We can help. First, don’t worry. Many people have this same fear. We recommend that you approach it both psychologically and physiologically.
- The Psychology – When dealing with this fear response, it is important to physically write down the irrational beliefs you are dealing with and the corresponding rational reality you know to be true.
- The Physiology – When you are dealing with the physical responses to fear, the best response is to relax. Our most effective relaxation tool at the moment is Diaphragmatic Breathing. When you breathe in, make sure your shoulders are relaxed, and your stomach moves out when you breathe. That means you are using the diaphragm. Each time you practice take one deep breath and try to count to 20 by saying “one by one and two by two and three by three” and so on until you reach 20. Practice this technique 10 minutes at a time, three times a week.
You cannot have a perfect presentation that will always get you the outcome you want. This is why you have a fear response. Using these tools, and many others will help you deal with the imperfection and present significantly better.
I have helped many teams become more effective at presenting as a team. Because humans are SO different and have SO many variables, it can be quite challenging to coach a team. Most teams preparing on their focus on:
- who will say what during which slides
- the order of presenters
- making the time fair/equal, etc.
Often teams are presenting because the stakes are high, and the consequences are critical. And, of course, money is frequently involved either as part of a department budget, a start-up trying to get funding, and many other situations in which the listeners must hear from the entire team.
The people listening to the team present will be acutely aware of all of the non-verbal communication of the team. Whatever this communication reveals will carry more substantial weight than the words were spoken. A well-known architectural firm who brought me in because they started losing projects that they should have won. After assessing the team, I realized that one of the members did not get along with the others. Despite well-planned, streamlined presentations they still lost, and they were dumbfounded. What were they missing? Their subtle nonverbal behaviors communicated the discontent within the team. Despite the polite and professional words, the facial expressions, the lack of eye contact, the dismissive exchanging of documents, etc. were all indicators of discord within the team. People believe what they feel energetical and what they see over what they hear. It is SO SUBTLE. These nonverbal behaviors are the kind of things that only human beings can detect . This client of mine needed a new type of coaching to get past the issues that plagued the team. (more…)
4 Nov How to present as a team
Team presentations are difficult. They are even more so when there is $10 to $50 million in funding on the line. The presentation sets the tone for the next year or years of your business. So, getting it wrong, messing up, or not presenting as a cohesive unit is not an option. The pressure is high, and the stress over getting it wrong is higher.
When we coach teams, who are looking for that essential round of VC funding, we find that one of the keys to relieving the pressure is working on the transition between different sections of the presentation and various members of the team. There are three steps to good transitions between people: (more…)
One of the statements most often spoken by anyone faced with a big investor presentation is “I need to practice.” For life science start-up CEOs and leadership teams, this is in many cases, a topic of conversation. “I need to practice.” “We need to practice.” “We need to schedule practice.” “This presentation is critical because it influences our funding.” It is common to think practice is easy, but it is not. It is not easy to schedule; it is not easy to do as a team; it is not easy … period. While this is good for people like me because it is part of what we offer, it is time to demystify practice. I will outline five best practices of practice…so you can practice better!
Strategize and write
The first step to good practice is to take the time to purposefully consider, structure, and write what is going to be said. The biggest problem for most people is they believe their “story” is easy to tell and easy to understand. It is not. Without consideration and strategic writing, your message will be confusing to listeners. Remember, the goal is to write something that is for your listeners, NOT you. (more…)
Welcome to our three-part series that gives biotech CEOs and executive decision-makers the tools to advise, influence, and persuade listeners. After working with numerous Life Science and Biotech clients, we’ve observed that many biotech executives are ill-prepared for delivering their companies essential messagesduring a formal presentation.
This blog post, based on our extensive research, explains that there are only three ways to persuade someone of something. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, be sure to catch up first before you read this post. This post, Part 3, explains the third and final persuasion tool when you need to convince someone to do, think, say, or approve. (more…)
Welcome to our three-part series that gives biotech CEOs and executive decision-makers the tools to advise, influence, and persuade listeners. If you can communicate clearly and understand how to be persuasive across various situations, your organization will thrive.
This blog post based on our extensive research explains that there are only three ways to persuade someone of something. If you missed Part 1, be sure to catch up here. This post, Part 2, explains the second persuasion tool.
A CEO can take on a variety of tasks they wish to tackle. However, some tasks can’t be delegated. A few of the vital functions of a biotech CEO include: (more…)
If you present to investors or other small group meetings, watch Dr. Ethan Becker show you how to use Apple’s new SideCar technology to help improve human connections!
The role of a biotech CEO involves effective communication between leaders, managers, board members, and shareholders. Because Boards advise and direct management teams on crucial decisions, CEOs must communicate the vision, metrics, and progress of the organization.
This blog, based on our extensive research, explains that there are only three ways to persuade someone of something. Part 1 will share the first tool and be sure to read Part 2 and Part 3 in this series to learn the other two persuasion techniques.
We have developed valuable insight into how relationships, presentations, and handling questions can affect your communication success and effectiveness with your Board and shareholders. CEOs must be able to pivot and show their dependability. The key to your success: The ability to persuade with personal credibility. (more…)
Fear of speaking means more than sweaty palms and a shaky voice. Your concerns can prevent upward mobility in your field, cause you to lose funding, and unfortunately, stunt the growth of your company.
Your specific fears when speaking in public will be different from your colleagues. Sometimes it means you don’t speak up as often in team meetings, or you become flustered when you speak publicly. For others, a fear of speaking can be more subtle, such as speaking too quickly or a lack of articulation.
“We cannot afford to be afraid to speak to each other” explains Dr. Dennis Becker, founder of The Speech Improvement Company. Whether in a meeting with a colleague or an important presentation for investors, we need to control our fear of speaking.
If you know you have a mild, moderate, or debilitating fear of speaking, the following four tools will help you relax when you are speaking in front of a group. Dr. Dennis Becker has honed what we call “The Silver Square” approach to Fear of Speaking after more than 55 years as a speech and communication coach. It involves four equal sides, and preparation in each area will help you create a positive speaking experience every time.
- Quickly building rapport
- Connect you and your information with positive feelings
- Lower your listener’s defenses creating a more receptive mindset
Studies have shown that humor can also increase the retention of information and help you be more persuasive. Ineffectively using humor can backfire and make your listeners think you are incompetent, lack judgment, and other adverse outcomes. Humor is a high risk when used effectively, and the rewards are enormous! Studies also show that those who can naturally use humor are perceived as more confident and intelligent than those that don’t.
If you would like to add more humor to your presentations, start by observing humorous moments in professional settings. Notice whether everyone reacted or only a few. Think about why it was funny. Often it is about the content of the moment. Observational humor usually works well in professional settings. By acknowledging a shared experience that you can apply a metaphor to will bond people in laughter. For example, “It’s easier to get a snowsuit on my toddler than to use our coffee machine.” The first experience is one that most can relate to outside of work.
Humor humanizes and makes work more enjoyable. It’s best to get a trusted ally to review humor you plan to use in a presentation to ensure its effective and not offensive. Remember a little goes a LONG WAY. Do not try to add humor to every point of your presentation, only where it comes up naturally and easily. A good speech coach can help you develop this skill, which will take you to the next level of effectiveness in your presentations.