The following is a guest blog post from my colleague Rick Chess, speaker, consultant, and trainer. Read Rick’s bio at the end of the article:

Have you ever noticed that the best basketball players SLOW their game just before they get to the basket?  Please consider that you will need to do the same as you approach the key meeting with a money source. Slow your game so that you can focus on the critical moves which will drive your success.

The playoffs are when the very best shine in sports.  And the best players on the best teams all slow as they approach their goal.   Time stands still.   Only the ball and the goal are real.  The sounds, even the visual, of fans in the stands disappear.   The moment can last a lifetime.

When might that moment be for you?

  • PUBLIC COMPANY   The meeting on your road show as you step into the room with the decision makers at Fidelity.
  • PRIVATE COMPANY   When you click the first slide on your presentation to the high net worth investor considering an investment in your firm.
  • GOVERNMENT   Moments before your presentation to the funding committee of your legislative body.
  • ASSOCIATION   You are ushered into the office of the CEO of the company which could provide the dues to take your group from the red into the black.

Preparation for the “basket moment” requires outrageous amounts of work.   Accept as a reality that you will play as your practice.  Bad habits on off days will show up in a slip in your performance on the time near the basket.   Slowing down when the skills have not been honed will still result in poor performance.   Luck is great at the race track; it is not an acceptable business model.

For now, let us assume you have done the research and the reps and you are on your “A game” for our potential moment of glory.  How does a hard charger ever learn to relax? Won’t slowing down show disrespect to those in attendance?  If my pace is always fast, how will I perform on slow?

ALWAYS look at your potential moment of glory through the eyes of those guarding the basket. What do they need to allow you to succeed?  In sports, their job is clearly to deny you access. In the real world, your job is to help them see that your success will be their success.

The process starts with research on the funding source and the gate keepers. In sports, the players study videos of prior games played by the opponent. You will have studied the stories of others who have been in a similar meeting with this audience for clues on what works, and what does not.

Do not memorize your pitch. Your audience is too sharp to accept a canned presentation. Avoid a printed speech and NEVER read your slides. Better to have no slides that to risk reading them. When you are at the basket, you are the “what” being considered. It is neither your team nor your history. It is all you. Are you trustworthy? Is there a connection? How do you perform under pressure in the moment?

BOTTOM LINE Your audience will decide on funding your opportunity because they like you and believe that you will do the right thing at the right time to protect their investment. To them, this moment when you present is the easy part. If you can’t relax when you are telling your story, there must be something wrong with your plan or with you. Slow down as you approach the basket, and you will notice the nuance which will give you the insight needed to perform at your peak.

Rick Chess has over 30 years of experience in the business of F.I.RE – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate.  He is the managing partner of Chess Law Firm, PLC.  He has acquired over $2 billion of real estate and has raised over $200 million of equity.  He helped form a NYSE REIT and still serves on their board of trustees.  Rick wealth of experience also includes serving as a national president of the Real Estate Investment Securities Association (REISA) and as a Pennsylvania state legislator.   Find out more about how Rick can put his experience to work for you at RickChess.com.  Sign up for his weekly newsletter here.