Often, people think presenting is something separate from their everyday life. There is a belief that presenting is the act of showing some slides, getting behind a lectern or standing in front of an audience. We do not always have to be making big pitches to a board or representing your company at an industry conference, because, in actual fact, we are always presenting and influencing people every single day. We present to our customers, our staff, our suppliers and potential clients and whether we realize it or not, we are presenting ourselves every day at work.
However, the real question is… have YOU ever been the presenter who delivered a ‘less than successful’ business presentation or a pitch for your ideas? Have you ever facilitated a meeting that ended with your client walking out at the end, rushing to get back to work, with no intention of engaging in a business partnership with you in any way, shape or form? At the time, it felt like the meeting was a huge waste of time for you, for them and for your business. It felt demoralizing.
Many of us have had an experience of a business meeting that did not go according to plan! What went wrong? Either the presenter did not grab the audience’s attention from the outset or the presenter lost control of some point during the presentation.
Having effective communication skills will help you succeed in business and life. It does not matter how great your ideas and message are, if you do not inspire your audience and no one listens.
I have met many successful professionals who know how to communicate and present their ideas in compelling, influential, and memorable ways. It is not about their intelligence or their business acumen. Rather, they have one thing in common … and this is being able to connect and resonate with their audience, so much so, that they inspire and persuade their audience to take action!
Have you ever had the experience when you did not address your audience’s needs? For example, you may have been excited about presenting a new and innovative technique to increase sales for your department. You were so excited that you did not realize your team members were not familiar with the technical terms required to understand this new initiative. The result was your team members were discouraged and the initiative feel flat because you failed to address their expectations.
Have you ever answered the phone to a prospective client? Unfortunately, this ‘potential client’ had already spoken to your three closest competitors as he shopped around for the best solution to his problem. What did you do wrong? You did not present your product in a way that was persuasive. Often, prospective clients judge you in many different ways before making a buying decision and one of the biggest judgments used is communication skills.
Presentation Skills really matter! 70% of people believe presentation skills are essential to their success at work. However, most presentations fail. In case you are not convinced yet, did you know that audience members or clients will typically give you less than 5 minutes to prove yourself before switching off completely? According to the most recent survey in North America conducted with a variety of employees from small, medium and large businesses, if you are an effective business presenter, you are in the minority.
Only 38% of respondents thought presenters understood their needs
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 take action.
Over 60% of respondents admitted to using their slides to help remember what to say with little or no eye contact.
Nearly 60% of respondents admitted to being frequently nervous prior to presentations which then affected their ability to connect and engage their audience.
Only one-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.
Commanding attention and being able to easily sell your ideas will help you gain confidence and respect. Do you want to be more competent at presenting? Do you want to close more deals, win more appointment, gain more confidence and enjoy speaking and presenting?
Improving your presentation skills will help you showcase your professional expertise on a daily basis, accelerate your business, and generally get more of what you want in your life. The good news is, that in my experience, as someone who has trained many people in influential presentation skills over many years, everyone can gain more confidence and acquire skills that will help them become better communicators! It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and then practicing to become confident.
Here are 10 tips to get you started:
1) Understanding the audience you are presenting to first is important. What are they thinking, feeling and doing?
2) Learn how to build rapport. Remember, it is not about you, it is all about the audience. The audience is the hero.
3) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – to increase your confidence and improve your performance.
4) Warm up before you try to speak so you do not ‘trip’ over your words. A rich, resonant vocal quality does wonders for your credibility and makes it easier for people to listen to you.
5) Focus on your audience at all times.
6) Don’t read out your slides to your audience. PowerPoint is a visual aid – it is not the presentation.
7) Use your body to support your message. 93% of communication is non-verbal – so please do not place your hands over your crotch in what is known as the fig leaf, or reluctant nudist posture!
8) Connect with your audience – really ‘see’ them.
9) Pause and breathe. This will help your audience keep up with you. It will give you clarity of thought, a feeling of greater relaxation and a stronger voice.
10) What action do you want your audience to take away? Make it clear so that you leave them feeling terrific!
Remember, it does not matter how good your company is or how good your products and services are; how good your ideas are; how good your message is, if no one is listening.
Improve your presentations skills today and reap the extraordinary benefits!