Our Creative Director, Julia Sosa, kicked off our AiU 2015 season with a fantastic session where she shared some pre-presentation coping strategies that she's adopted over the years. It was too good not to share publicly. Deck and written version below. Enjoy!

- (Transcript)

I hate the word hamburger.

I spent 3 years in speech therapy because of this stupid word, and many other words I couldn’t pronounce. At 6 years old I already hated the sound of my own words.

I hate “R”s too.

I hated the letter “R” and many words with “R”s, and avoided them at all costs. Rrrrrrrrrr……

Fucking R’s.

The anxiety of getting this nasty letter out of my mouth — is still with me, buried deep in my psyche.

Enter Hell.

I started working in advertising — the industry that is the single largest employer of people who love to hear themselves talk. But I wasn’t one of them.

Hell x 2.

And to top that off my first job was at an agency where one of the premier clients was (god help me) BURGER KING . R’s and the word hamburger were proving unavoidable.

Time to buck up, Buttercup.

It was time to face my fears, and start building an arsenal of coping techniques.

Here are a few of the tips and tools I’ve been stockpiling along the way.

Before we start, remember…

“Ready” ain’t a thing. The first step in preparing for any presentation is realizing you will never be fully prepared. Get over it.

Okay, let’s really do this…

Tip 1: Study yourself.

Take notes of physical symptoms during your next meeting or presentation. Write down the dumbest thing you said.

Now go ask someone who was there if they noticed anything of those things.

Boo, you so crazy. Guess what? No one noticed that shit! And if they did, it wasn’t half as bad as you think…

Now let’s talk about preparing for your NEXT presentation…

Tip 2. Finish Early

24 hours before ideally. Know when to cut bait. At a certain point, getting the material you have in a good place is better than just creating more content.

Tweaking a deck at 4am won’t make it better. It will make you feel like shit the next day.

Tip 3. Get comfy.

Make sure you’re comfortable with what you are presenting, and if you aren’t change it or just say so.

Ask your tech bestie to cover the crazy technical questions. Ask your budget buddy to speak to the numbers and dollars slide.

Tip 4. Have props.

Give yourself visuals, quotes, cultural references on slides — they can be a crutch or safety blanket to make you more comfortable.

Tip 5. Educate yo’ self

Identify anything you think you will just be “reading” and try to learn it. Ask questions, get someone else to tell you what it means to them, how they’d say it.

Tip 6. Bite-size points.

Write as much as you need to think through but then capture in short bullets and sound bites so you can speak naturally to it. Turn them into your cheat.

Tip 7. Plan your “segways.”

Focus on your opening line and setting up the ‘theme”– that’s the toughest part and sets tone, cadence, comfort. Plan transitions to and from other presenters.

Okay, you are so ready for the big meeting! What now?

Tip 8. For f*cks sake, sleep!

Don’t be stupid. Ain’t no slide, fancy transition, pie chart that matters more than this.

No Ray Donovan marathons. No League of Legends midnight missions. No last minute, mad dash deck cray, you crazy buggers.

Tip 9. Three hours before…

Take a walk. Pin kittens. Call your mom. Do other work. Just forget about the presentation.

Avoid other stressors or intense meetings. Say no if you have to.

People get it, and they want you to do your best!

Tip 10. Fifteen minutes before…

Glance over bullets. Harness your inner spirit animal. Head in.
You got this. We love you.
Carpe f*ckin’ diem.

Tip 11. Settle in, say hi.

Say anything to anyone in the room about anything unrelated to the meeting. Fancy a carrot? Ye ol’ weather banter, whatevs’. A single interaction before a meeting will help you be less presentation-y and more real with peeps in the room.

Tip 12. Find Soul Mates

Don’t just feel compelled to speak “to” the person or client you think you should. Speak to everyone or anyone you can engage. Feed off the nods or smiles.

BONUS TIP! Screw the grumpy cats!

Positive energy in a room is contagious. You can always circle back to a furrowed brow when you have a comfortable stopping point, but don’t cater to the haters if it’s going to throw you off your game.

Tip 13. Stand up, paws out.

Speak with your hands. Get them moving. Imagine you are a kitten with a ball of string. Even on the phone! Stand if you can if it’s large conference room. It seems scarier but it will help get your energy up and out.

Tip 14. Be yo’ self.

You are not Joel Osteen or Don Draper. You are a normal person talking to normal people. Authenticity, sincerity and conviction IS compelling.

Tip 15. Now, stop!

You’re done, don’t feel compelled to keep talking. And know your closer. Asking people “What are your thoughts on xyz” is a lot smoother than “The End” or “That’s all I got folks.”

Praise Yeezus, It’s Over.</span>


“I’m like the vessel. And God has chosen me to be the voice and the connector.”

You’ll get better with each presentation, and each will be less painful. Find your swagger, your own style — and own it.

Have other tips to share? Questions?I’d love to hear them! Comment or holla’ anytime.