Presentations are performances. The best way to prepare for a performance is to rehearse. So, why not borrow a technique from the theater and hold dress rehearsals for sales presentations?

HMC Group, a $16-million architectural-design business in Ontario, Calif., does exactly that--even providing an audience for its budding stars. The head of marketing acts as the director, leading the salespeople as they run through their presentations. Senior staff members act as customers and ask tough questions culled from past client meetings. The scenario is made as realistic as possible, and it gives presenters a chance to polish their acts with the support and feedback of their colleagues.

Afterward, the audience, now playing the role of New York Times drama columnists, critiques the cast and gives advice on script revision. "They judge more harshly than a client ever would," says CEO Robert Kain. Well-rehearsed presenters are then prepared for the worst, and they usually end up giving their best.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing