First Serve Presentation DeliveryWhen I asked a client why his colleague’s presentation had not gone well, he used a tennis analogy and said, “Basically, he started with his second serve and stayed there.”  Although what this colleague said was valuable, apparently his delivery lacked strength, conviction, and passion, the kind of hitting power that you want to see on a “first serve” in tennis.  Since no one wakes up wanting to hit “second serves” in either tennis or business, what could this person have done to ensure that his energy and enthusiasm “aced” his delivery to support his content?

Five Tips for “First Serve” Delivery Power

The obvious 1st tip is Practice. Run through your presentation several times so that you are thoroughly familiar with the content. (You do not want to lose any power worrying over what  a slide means or what should come next in your argument.)

The less obvious 2nd tip is to Warm Up. People don’t appreciate it, but presenting is an activity very much like a sport. In both cases, your body produces adrenalin to get you ready for the upcoming event. You can let that adrenalin make you uptight or you can use it to your advantage.  You need to get that  natural pre-presentation adrenalin to course through your entire body so that you are physically loose.  In private, roll your shoulders; stretch your arms back behind you; yawn a big yawn to loosen up your facial muscles; shake your hands; hum to warm up your vocal chords. Jump up and down lightly.

The 3rd tip is to Change Your Mindset from seeing yourself as a reciter of facts and data to a relater of a story about that information.  When you merely present facts and data, it is hard to be personally engaging.  When you tell stories, you   naturally have drama in your voice, variety in your pacing, and changes in your inflections. You don’t think about those things. They just happen, because you want people to stay with you. The same is true in presenting.

The 4th tip is to Make Good Eye Contact.  Look at individuals. Talk to one person at a time for about the length of a sentence or phrase. Really connect with them, much as you would in a social situation. That will lead you to talk conversationally and prevent you from dropping into rigid “monotonese.”

The 5th tip is Believe! Depending on the purpose of the meeting and your listeners, believe that your product/service can really help; or, that your cause is critically important; or that your advice can transform the company, the situation, or the world!  There is nothing  as powerful for “first serve” presentation delivery as enthusiasm!

Say good-bye to “second serve” presentations and use these tips to say hello to more and more wins.


Anne Miller is a leading presentation and demo specialist, speaker, and coach who helps people in high stakes situations win business, sell ideas, and rally others to a cause. For more information and free ebook, visit www.annemiller.com