Sales and investor meetings come with the territory of being an entrepreneur. Some people love the adrenaline rush that comes with it, while others dread it entirely.
I can’t talk about meetings without thinking back to my first investor pitch. As my partners and I got ready to walk into the room, we were surprised to learn that we were not presenting to one venture capitalist, as we had thought, but rather to quite an intimidating boardroom of 10 venture capitalists with deep pockets. As young entrepreneurs, we were nervous already. But given the last-minute change, our nerves certainly got to us. So I thought back to something I had done my entire life to calm myself down what I call a "fire breath."
Take three breathes and as you breathe out, let out a sound from deep in your core (it will actually sound like a sneeze). While not medically proved, this technique has worked wonders for me as it brings my mind to the present moment. But beyond this, I have adopted a few other rituals that I use to prepare for business meetings:
1. Hack your diet.
The night before a meeting, have a cup of warm milk with two pinches of turmeric and a spoon of organic honey, with half a slice of whole-grain bread 30 minutes before bed. The morning of the meeting have a freshly prepared smoothie with banana, black grapes, ginger and two pieces of organic 90 percent dark chocolate with two pieces of durian fruit, which is very high in vitamin B6.
2. Look no further than lily flowers.
Place a stem of lily flowers by your bedside. This has a calming effect for me. Lily flowers have been used in aromatherapy with individuals experiencing anxiety and depression. Possible medical benefits are still under investigation by researchers. Some believe this helps create a feeling of modesty, happiness and a sense of security.
3. Get a tiny bit creepy.
Use tools such as Refresh and RelateIQ to gather details about the people in an upcoming meeting. If you find a common thread (for example, "My daughter goes to your alma mater. How about those Broncos!"), you can organically engage in a conversation outside of the meetings' core content. Don’t creep anyone out, but take a few minutes to see what nuggets you can find.
4. Address the why.
While this may seem obvious, presenters often become caught up with their own agenda and by preparing their slide presentations, and why the meeting is happening gets lost. It’s not just about closing a new deal. The meeting is about articulating clearly how a certain product can help this specific customer address a need and meet goals.
Keep the message simple. Think about this: If you were to accomplish one thing, what would it be? What lasting impression do you want to leave? Remember, the meeting is not about you. It's about what you can do for the other party. Establishing credibility is a must, but first tell members of the audience why they should stay tuned in.
Also be sure to prepare for the worst-case scenario and hard, challenging questions. If the meeting does not go as anticipated, thinks about this: How can you respond rather than react?
5. Meditate for 20 minutes.
Steal away for 20 minutes the night before. Having serene silence while maintaining a high state of awareness will pay off. Practicing specific pranayamas, or breathing exercises, can help in eliminating anxiety on the day of the meeting. One of my favorites is doing 10 minutes of breathing through alternate nostrils, in succession, to reduces anxiety. Throughout the years that I have practiced meditation, some truly amazing ideas have sprouted from my worry-free mind.
Everyone strives to bring the perfection that Steve Jobs brought to every meeting -- whether presenting onstage to a crowd or in a more intimate conference room. But this is much easier said than done. As a female entrepreneur and former Wall Street technologist, I often find myself the only woman in the room, a fact that used to conjure up feelings of intimidation and angst. By adopting simple hacks for my body and mind, I have since come to thoroughly enjoy -- and thrive in -- meetings.