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The Opening

Giving a presentation. Sharing a keynote. Leading a meeting. Facilitating a webinar. Each can be seen as a game, and each presenter or speaker as a player. The equipment and uniforms are expected. There are actual rules and assumed rules. There are opponents and playing fields to research. There are skills to learn and an attitude to adopt. A presentation can be seen as “just a game,” and you are in it to win.

Throughout this text, we will use the term presentation to represent the different forms of verbal and/or visual communication including, but not limited to, keynotes, phone conferences, phone calls, webinars, meetings, verbal pitches, proposals, and reports, interviews, etc.

Sports analogies connect to presenting for many reasons. As a teacher, even though my life has been spent in the theatre, I have relied on the universality of sports references. Most of us at some point, from childhood into adulthood, have been a player, a coach, or a fan, and we understand the play of a game. With a little shift of perspective, we get our head in the game and can experience the attitude adjustment needed to move from work to play, head to body, and “what should I do” to “I know this.”

Players have different levels of skill, and they know that tips, techniques, practice and coaching can help them improve. While some players are naturally skilled, others just love to play the game, and still others are roped in, promoted in, or are just filling in. Regardless of whether the player is in the minor league, the major league, or even the pros, skills are continually being honed.

For example, many of us would approach a long walk with the attitude: “I mean really, how hard can it be? I exercise all the time?” But for anyone who has done a day-long walk or hike, you know that a full day of walking does indeed use different muscles from jogging or biking, and this is emphasized when one is found hobbling at the end of the 34-mile event.

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