No One is Good Under Pressure. Here’s How to Handle It

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In this video, we are going to talk about the biggest myth that I see for people preparing for client meetings. I see this especially with those big, high stakes client meetings, such as a finalist meeting, where you are either going to win or not win a massive body of work.

This is where the myth occurs. Some people think that some folks rise under pressure or they perform better under pressure. Meaning that when the stakes are high, they do an even better job. Let me tell you, the research shows this could not be further from the truth.

Roy Baumeister at Florida State University has done more research on this than anybody. He says that the idea that we can become Michael Jordan or Reggie Jackson or Lou Brock or any of these people that performed outside of the human realm of what expectations would be is not likely. His research shows that for 99.9% of us, we actually perform less well when we are under pressure. Here is why and then I will tell you what to do about it.

The reason we tend to perform less well under pressure is some amount of our time and energy gets yanked away from performing a task and focuses on our process of the task. If you have got five hours of work to do in three hours, you spend a lot of that time thinking, “Am I on the right path? How much time do I have left? What do I need to do next? Should I change my course? Is there another way?” A lot of these questions then yank you away from actually performing the task. The more pressure we feel in general, the more time and energy we spend worrying about how we are doing.

Here is what you do about it. When you are preparing for these high-stakes meetings, whatever you do, do not just rehearse over and over again what you are going to say. This makes preparing or meetings fall into some kind of linear path with your 78-page PowerPoint slide deck. You say you will do them in this order and think about when you will say them. That chart on page 17 is new and I just did it, so I am going to really think about that. Do not think of preparing for these meetings in that linear fashion.
Instead, think of how you can be ready for a dynamic pliable meeting were things might change and you are ready for the change. What we do when we teach our classes is we break that down into six really simple parts. Here they are.

Number one. Define your goal for the meeting. What do you want out of it?

Number two. Define your frame. How can you describe that goal to the client in a way that they would love to accomplish the goal as well? How can you describe the goal in their best interest?

The third thing is asking yourself, what will I do if crazy things happen? What if the decision maker does not come? What if they come and they bring their boss? What should I do if I get double the time I expect? What should I do if I get half the time? Think of all the crazy things that can happen and how you will respond to them. If you have done that, you are ready for anything.

Step four. Think about what questions should you ask them that are really insightful. Take a long time to think of the really great gravitas-like questions you want to ask them.

Fifth, think about the crazy questions they might ask you, the ones that you are really worried about. How are you going to respond to them? Who on the team should respond to them? How do you frame the answer to ask a question and really dig into what their question is, so you can respond to it with precision?

Sixth, think about relationships. What are the little things you can do to enhance the relationships while you are there? Maybe something you can bring as a small gift, such as a business book, an article, or a thought piece. Or maybe there are connections you can make in the room or connections with other people they know as well. What are the little relationship things you can do while you are there to enhance things and provide a really enjoyable experience to your client?

We find when people do those six things, their meetings go great. Even if something crazy happens or they are just feeling a tremendous amount of pressure to make the meeting go well, when you are prepared in that dynamic way, you will have success as opposed to when you prepare the linear way of how you are going to blabber on about yourself the whole time.

We hope that helps you help your clients, and with all these videos, we hope this one helps you help your clients succeed.