The Death Spiral

Early in my career I worked for a major computer company. Before we were unleashed on the world, we had to go through the typical technical and sales presentation training.

Regardless, if you were prepared or not, you had to give your presentation to the instructor and your peers at the end of your training. Occasionally, someone would fall through – The Death Spiral.

What is the Death Spiral? This is that feeling of circling down a drain. That is, you are doing so badly, and everyone knows it. But you can’t stop and no one will help you. Thus the name – The Death Spiral – aaahhhhhhaaa.

6.14.2016 spiral image

Have you ever had a death spiral moment?

I remember my first as if it were two minutes ago. It was at an eighth grade assembly. It would be my first and only time to speak before the entire elementary school. It was a special Mother’s Day program.

I don’t remember what I said, but I do recall the beads of sweat rolling down my back and face, as not one person responded to my speech. The Death Spiral – aaahhhhhhaaa! I circled the drain.

It would be years before I would EVER try that again.

What can you do to avoid The Death Spiral- aaahhhhhhaaa?

The suggestions below range from active (aka fast results) to passive.

  1. Join Toastmasters. Speaking is an active skill and it must be practiced out loud in front of people. Toastmasters will provide you with a nurturing and encouraging audience and environment no matter your skill level.
  2. Don’t wing it. You’ve got to test your content before an important presentation.
  3. Rehearse before a camera, not a mirror.  You will see how you look and sound. Yes, you look like that and you sound like that.
  4. Get a coach.If you have a high-impact presentation coming up, hire a coach. (Patricia Fripp)
  5. Attend a workshop or boot camp. (Lady & the Champs)
  6. Watch YouTube videos.
  7. Caution: you will notice I did not recommend reading any books. There are many excellent books on this topic. (Made to Stick)  But what I’ve noticed is people read the books but they don’t apply the ideas. This method is passive. While the other aforementioned suggestions are active.

Presenting is an active skill.  The only way to get better is to practice out loud in front of people. Sharpen the saw.

Be active, not passive. Save yourself from The Death Spiral aaahhhhhhaaa!