Competitive athletes vs. presentation experts

Giving a PowerPoint presentation is not a competitive sport, of course. But in some respects it is. Even though you won’t be competing for Olympic gold or breaking any world records when presenting, there are some principles you can learn from professional athletes. Professional athletes and presentation experts have a lot in common. The knowledge of professionals can help you prepare for your next PowerPoint presentation.

Perhaps you have also watched sports broadcasts on television. And you may have been impressed by the peak performance the human body can achieve. How do you manage that? And perhaps you have also experienced an excellent PowerPoint presentation and wondered how this presentation expert managed to generate such enthusiasm in the audience. It is clear that in both cases a lot of hard work, patience and training programs set up by experts are important to make it to a top level. But top performance is not magic, it’s consistent action.

Even presentation experts achieve their top form only through training

If you want to give really successful PowerPoint presentations, you can get in the best shape of your life by looking at how top athletes and presentation professionals prepare for your assignment. Here you will learn how:

The right alternation of tension and relaxation

Top athletes train their muscles to exhaustion. But their trainers make sure they also relax properly, so they don’t get muscle stiffness, for example. For the muscle, tension and relaxation are equally important.

Presentation experts also know very well that they have to play with pressure and relaxation during the presentation. Offensive phases with raised voices alternate with moments of relaxation, where perhaps a joke or a funny anecdote relieves the tension.


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Before the presentation you need enough sleep

Top athletes wouldn’t dream of partying and going to bed late before a big game or competition. Sufficient sleep is a prerequisite for accomplishing great feats. Presentations are no different. Even seasoned presentation experts know that their brains will not perform adequately if they appear before their audience with a sleep deficit. Therefore, make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep before your performance. If you can’t fall asleep from excitement, autogenic training can help you achieve the relaxation you need.

Look for suitable “sparring partners” for your own presentation training

Professional athletes often train with training partners. This creates a competitive atmosphere and motivates better performance. Some sports, such as boxing, would be almost impossible to train professionally without such sparring partners.

Presentation experts constantly check their gestures, facial expressions and dramaturgy to ensure that no mistakes creep in. You often don’t notice yourself that you use too many “uhs”, or use certain phrases too often. For beginners and advanced PowerPoint presenters, such “dry runs” with a practice audience are essential. Ask friends, colleagues or business partners if they would take a look at your presentation before you stand in front of your auditorium. The feedback you receive is of great importance for your presentation success.

Competitions and presentations are largely decided in the head

At the latest since Boris Becker used the term all the time, you may have an idea of how important it is to be properly prepared “mentally”. Top athletes need to be in top shape not only physically, but also mentally. They go over and over movement sequences in their minds and use certain relaxation techniques to keep their nerves in check on competition day.

Physical fitness is a prerequisite for participation, but victory or defeat is decided primarily in the mind. It’s not much different with presentations. First-class slides and a well-prepared speaker are the basic prerequisites for presentation success. But if the presenter keeps saying to himself in his mind “I’m messing up, I can’t get this right,” it’s no surprise when his nerves let him down on stage.

How to program your subconscious mind for success is something you can learn. Specialist books on mental training can be found in bookstores. A good presentation trainer can also give you a lot of help to get your head trimmed for success in your presentation.

Wrong diet makes your presentation lame

If you want to perform, you have to supply your body with the nutrients it needs for top performance. Athletes and presentation experts use their bodies differently to succeed. Nevertheless, there are some similarities that are also important for you. A completely empty stomach is almost as bad as a full stomach. Make sure that you don’t really dig in right before your presentation. Eat a light meal with sufficient time interval, e.g. with vegetables and rice. Refrain from sugar, because although it initially provides energy, it also causes energy to drop quickly.


Competitive athletes and presentation experts need a lot of training and professional preparation. For both groups, there are good trainers to help them reliably perform at their best.


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