Worried about making mistakes in front of important clients? If presenting and selling with a whiteboard is in your future, it helps to know what to watch out for…and how to recover instantly.

Many subject matter experts worry about appearing professional and poised in front of decision makers. It makes sense, really. We’re all trained to speak with polish and aim for perfection.

But in whiteboard presenting, you need an additional boost of experimentation. Why? While it looks impromptu, effective selling with a whiteboard is the result of careful planning, clear structure and a strong ability to recover from mistakes.

Years ago I trained modern dancers in the art of mastering mistakes. At the time, I helped dancers learn how to soar—and how to fall. We rehearsed complex moves to leap, climb and interact with each other in a form of dance called ‘contact dance.’ This energetic style required dancers to be essentially fearless.

If falling from the shoulders of a 6ft. 4’ guy sounds scary, you’re right. It is. Until you know the secrets of falling. Mastering the fear of falling and learning the skills of falling is quite possible. If you break it down into tiny, bite-size chunks.

The same thing is true for whiteboard presenting. You need to know what to watch out for, what to do if you make a mistake, and how to recover with poise. Funny enough, the skills are quite similar.

While this is much easier to show you side by side, let’s roll up our sleeves and have a go at it—through words.

What To Watch Out For
The single most important pitfall is not coming from the audience, the environment or the situation. Nope. It’s coming from inside.

Watch out for the attitude of ‘trying to be perfect.’ This one will trip you up every time. In whiteboarding, aim for excellence—and have an open attitude.

Attitude is everything. It shows in your posture, breathing, walk and writing. It shows in every aspect of your body language and eye contact. As you may already know, 93% of what an audience responds to is body language and eye contact.

If you’re feeling uptight, worrying about making a mistake, it doesn’t matter if you think you’re great at ‘hiding it.’ Why? Because it already shows. Your body language is speaking volumes about you—before you ever open your mouth or write anything on the board.

Start with an open attitude of confidence and exploration. By doing your best and staying flexible, you’ll send this message in your body language, speech and performance.

What To Do If You Make A Mistake
With the foundation of an open attitude, you’re already light years ahead of an uptight competitor. But you still may make a mistake. These can range from getting marker on your clothes, dropping a marker or drawing an illegible sketch. You may make a mistake in spelling, writing or content descriptions.

If you make a mistake…the best thing to do is: admit it. Say it out loud. “Oops. I wrote that the wrong way.” By naming the mistake, you defuse the moment. People are likely to relate to you as a human being and respect your honesty.

How To Recover With Poise
Recovering with polish and executive presence is a lot easier when you have an open attitude and are speaking the truth. But what else can you do to be more flexible and agile?

Practice! There is no substitute for practice, rehearsal and real-world feedback. Practice is not just sketching something in your notebook. Aim for recreating a realistic environment. Practice standing at the whiteboard. If you’re working in a smaller medium such as a storyboard or sketchbook, practice in this size.

If you’re combining whiteboarding with other mediums such as slides, iPad presentations or prezis, practice switching from one to the other.

Working with a coach is one of the best ways to practice recovering with poise. Your coach will test the edges of a situation to recreate realistic problems, obstacles and challenges. The more you practice solving problems on the spot and recovering with a calm poise, the more prepared you’ll be.

What is the secret for exceptional sales success? Open attitude, honest connection and tons of practice are essential skills. When you use these skills, you’ll be well on the way to mastering the art of whiteboard presenting.

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: http://www.presentationstoryboarding.com/