Disaster may await, but (at least in my experience), it’s incredibly rare that a roomful of people want to see your sales presentation fail miserably. They may be skeptical, they may prefer another vendor (or the status quo), or they may just want to get to lunch or back to their desk.

In reality, people seldom want to see you crash and burn. It may be a tough crowd, stern and silent, but they aren’t wishing for disaster. Disaster is painful to watch. It’s awkward and unpleasant. Plus, it makes time slow down and the meeting drag on. And nobody wants that.

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So get that unproductive notion out of your head. Instead, consider this. They want you to win. Or at least not suck. For their own sake, if not yours.

Personally, I find the first three or four minutes the toughest. Get past that and things settle down. And as soon as someone asks a question or makes a comment, the whole mood of the meeting changes for me, so I actively solicit engagement early solely to help get me into my groove.

Figure out what works for you. Maybe it’s sitting down at the conference table with the attendees (not always practical,) or standing protected behind a podium (not always available,) or you’ve got a proven introduction that you know by heart. Think about what gets you in your groove. Whatever it is that gets you into that place, know that your audience is probably pulling for you to get there.