Most of us have had the experience where a business meeting just goes wrong! Where the presenter either didn’t grab your attention from the start or where they lost control of the presentation at some stage. But the real question is, have YOU ever been the presenter who delivered a ‘less than successful’ business presentation or pitch for your services? Have you ever facilitated a meeting that ended in your client walking out at the end, busting to get back to work, with no intention whatsoever of engaging in a business partnership with you in any way, shape or form?At the time it feels like the meeting was a huge waste of time for you, for them and for your business.
Interestingly, most people think of presenting as something separate from life. As something we only do when there’s a lectern, some slides and an audience. But just because you don’t have to make big pitches to a board or represent your company at an industry conference doesn’t mean you don’t present to people. We present and influence people every day. We present to our clients, our staff, our suppliers and potential clients. You are presenting yourself every day at work whether you realise it or not and presentation skills are critical when you are trying to get ahead in your business.
The more successful entrepreneurs I meet, the more I realise that regardless of their intelligence and business acumen, regardless of their excellent products or service and regardless of their commitment to their business, these successful people have one thing in common. They know how to present their ideas in a compelling, influential and memorable way. They know how to structure their thoughts, how to connect with people, and they say what they want to say in a way that resonates with their audience. They inspire and compel their audiences to take action! It doesn’t matter how good your message is if no one’s listening!
You may have thought that you were just running another team meeting, but your team members that morning were hoping it would be a motivational event that would encourage them to work harder and not apply for that job with your competitor. You may have thought that this was just another prospective client as you answered the phone to convert the business – but this ‘potential client’ has already spoken to your three closest competitors as they shop around for the best solution to their problem. You may have thought that you were just a small part of the picture, just the technical expert with the graphs and charts, but the client was watching the way you presented your information with a plan to refer you to their biggest supplier. You may have thought you were just answering another email inquiry that came through your website contacts page, but the person inquiring actually had over $50,000 to spend on your products or services and they were judging your interpersonal skills.
Presentation Skills really matter! In case you’re not yet convinced, did you know that in a business context, audience members or clients will typically give you less than 5 minutes to prove yourself before completely switching off? According to the most recent survey in Australia conducted with a variety of employees from small, medium and large business, if you are an effective business presenter you are in the minority. When asked about workplace presenters they had seen in the last 12 months;
- Only 38% of respondents thought presenters understood their needs as a client.
- More than half the respondents said that presenters generally read from their PowerPoint slides. • Only 40% of respondents found presenters to be engaging.
- Only 28% of respondents said that they were moved to action after seeing presenters. Most people fear presenting and pitching When asked about presenting they do at work:
- Over 60% of respondents admit to using their slides to help remember what to say with little or no eye contact.
- Nearly 60% of respondents admit to being frequently nervous prior to presentations which affected their ability to connect and engage their audience.
- Only a third of respondents felt that they were influential, persuasive presenters.
- 75% of respondents believed that they would gain more respect for their knowledge and expertise in the business world if they were better public speakers.
Command attention, gain respect and easily sell your ideas to anyone It’s conclusive! If you are not good at presenting in business you need to learn how to do so! It will help you to command attention, gain respect and easily sell your ideas to anyone. It’s time you started to win more appointments and close more deals.
With improved presentation skills you can showcase your professional expertise on a daily basis, accelerate your business, and generally get more of what you want in your life. Anyone can be an exceptional presenter! And the good news is that in my experience, as someone who has trained many thousands of people in influential presentation skills over much of the past two decades, anyone can be an exceptional presenter! It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and doing it.
Here are 10 tips to get you started:
- Analyse the ‘audience’ before writing out what you’d like to say. What are they thinking, feeling and doing and what change are you trying to create in them?
- Learn how to build rapport. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s all about the audience.
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse to increase your confidence and improve your performance.
- Warm up before you try to speak so you don’t ‘trip’ over your words. A rich, resonant vocal quality does wonders for your credibility and makes it easier for people to listen to you.
- Focus on your audience at all times.
- Don’t read out your slides to your audience. PowerPoint is a visual aid – it’s not the presentation.
- Use your body to support your message. For example, don’t place your hands over your crotch in what is known as the fig leaf, or reluctant nudist posture!
- Connect with your audience – really ‘see’ them.
- Pause and breathe. This will help your audience catch up to you, it will give you clarity of thought, a feeling of greater relaxation and also a stronger voice.
- Ask for what you want so the audience knows what you want them to do as a result of listening to you and leave them feeling terrific!
Remember, it doesn’t matter how good your company is, how good your products or service are, how good your ideas are or how good your message is if no one’s listening. Improve your presentations skills today and reap the extraordinary benefits!
Michelle Bowden is one of only 25 female Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) in Australia, (the CSP is the highest designation for speakers in the world). Michelle is the author of Stop! Your PowerPoint is killing me! and Don’t Picture me Naked.
For further tips and techniques to dramatically improve the way you present and influence people please go to www.howtopresent.com.au