7 points of presenting yourself!
Whether you are working within an organisation, thinking about starting your own business, running your own business or an executive in a large business, a lot of you will get stage fright when you are told you must present your company to an audience; this is very understandable. Can I please, in some small way try to erase at least some part of your fear? To present in a “One-to-One” situation, you probably feel quite safe but when you know you are going to be presenting to, should we say a board of directors of a large company or perhaps an audience of 500 or in a workshop, then the nerves really can start to kick in!
I still get very edgy myself and I have been presenting to large and small groups for more years than I care to remember! I once read that even Churchill used to get nervous when having to speak in front of a large group of people. It does not have to be a miserable experience. The more carefully you prepare, the better you will feel when giving your presentation.
A presentation, whether its “One-to-One” selling a product or service, or an audience of thousands, you must “engage and persuade” you must prepare in three sections.
- The introduction
- The body
- The conclusion
To be thinking of presenting without any knowledge of the subject is very foolhardy. I have seen it done especially by young executives who thought they knew it all, also by show-off salespeople who thought they knew best. I must confess that in my earlier years of presentations; I did it and seriously embarrassed myself and learned very quickly that it was foolish, stupid and did damage my reputation but I did learn from it; (that is important).
So, it is especially important when you are preparing, whatever it may be, that knowing the product, service and subject is of paramount importance. This will ensure that the presentation will run smoothly, and your confidence will be high; because you planned for it and did not do it off the cuff.
Planning your presentation:
When you are in the planning stage you must make sure that you are going to “Engage and Persuade” your audience! You will need to list all the important points of your presentation, making sure that you are covering each and all the sections. You should then choose how you intend to present it. Your outline maybe on “note cards or power-point slides”. When you know the equipment where your presentation is you will deal with this later, you could just work directly from your outline.
You need to plan the opening of your presentation; remembering you need to be “Engaging and Persuading” in front of your audience so those first few seconds are particularly important. You will need to get them relaxed because this will also get you relaxed, and this will set the whole tone of your presentation and get it off to a good start. You should plan to introduce your presentation with an attention-grabber, some people can do this by telling a joke, I personally cannot, and I am useless at joke telling. So, I usually start by saying “Good morning, afternoon, evening” (then mention the name of the company, town, or area) you happen to be in.
Breaking down that first barrier is the most important part of any presentation, remember “you only have eight-to-twelve seconds to make that very first impression; you’ll never get a second opportunity to make that first impression”.
Then generally mention an anecdote about the topic to be covered or it could be “How many of you like Public Speaking? Or Selling”? Or maybe, just “Do you like what you’re doing”? What you are doing here is engaging, drawing in, relaxing, and warming the audience to your presentation. You are engaging your audience; bringing in that all important audience participation, this will help you so much because you are showing your colours; you want to engage them “not talk at them or talk down to them”.
You need to make sure the talks, lectures, presentations, or workshops are exactly what is required by your AUDIENCE! You should review all the information you have researched, if you are not happy, keep researching until you are.
What do I mean by pattern? You must gently take your audience through your presentation; it must follow a logical sequence of events that guides your audience towards a mental acceptance of your talk, product, or service that you are presenting. Visual aids will help you to control your presentation and maintain your audiences, customer’s attention.
Visuals are a form of “bullet points” allowing you to organise your thoughts in an orderly fashion and enable you to condense your message into bite-sized chunks, easily understood so becoming more of a story to your audience. The aim of your presentation is to provide your audience with logical and relevant information, information that is sufficient for them and for your audience to make their decision on whether to buy into your presentation or buy the product or service your are offering them. A good rule is to present the benefits and only what relates to what your audience is expecting.
- Power in presenting:
When I talk about power, I mean the power behind the presentation. We say it is a combination of planning, enthusiasm and self-confidence all based on a very “positive mental attitude. How do we apply this into our presentation? Never put more than three pieces of information in front of your audience at any one time; this is so particularly important when you deliver over PowerPoint. I do understand that you find it hard to believe that all the detailed work you have put together can be expressed so remarkably simply! However, when you break down your presentation into just three parts (bullet points) it is a very effective way of ensuring you audience understands and more importantly remembers your message and by the way it is much easier for you to structure your story.
- Persuading: Enthusiasm is very often referred to as the art to persuade, lead in a direction that perhaps people hadn’t thought about, in other words not pressurising them in any way, in fact what you are doing is to make your audience or buyer believe in what you’re saying to them. You are influencing them into making a decision winning them over to your feeling or your point of view. Persuasion while you are presenting or selling your ideas, is more about appreciating how to reach and engage your audience. It is to try to increase the prospect that your presentation or your sales proposal will be adopted and taken in fully or acted upon.
- Proof: What do I mean by proof? Well it is not sufficient for the presenter to state that their product or service is the best, will save them money or motivate their staff. Whenever possible, give proof of all the claims that you are making. Most audiences and customers have reservations or doubts about claims made by people. A way of alleviating this is to back it up from a user of the product or service or who has heard you talk before; it is more credible in the eyes of the audience than your own verbal claims.
- Pictures: We now more than ever are a visually orientated society. We now grow up surrounded by the influences of the Internet, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, Instagram, television advertising, and all kinds of visual inducements. I am in an instance connected through a Facebook page throughout the world, something in the 1960’s when I started in business was unheard of. Then we were relying solely on the spoken word alone to communicate. An estimated 85% of the message is misinterpreted or just forgotten completely. We tend to retain only 15% of what we hear. Adding some visuals to the spoken word increases the retention to approximately 50%. No words can equal the power of a picture and visual aids and a very well thought out handout helps us to communicate far more effectively with the audience.
- Participation: Bringing the audience or buyer in on the talk or presentation is especially important. They should be involved with actions and words. Observe their reaction to the elements of your presentation and ask them plenty of questions, this will ensure that they are with you all the way. Any negative comments should be handled with respect and not brushed away. Try to deal with them there and then; a simple, “that is a very good point”! makes them usually comfortable that you will deal with it, now or later in the presentation.