Eight Keys to Better Presenting
By Mark Sincevich
director of quality and training for a large organization was driving
me back from lunch. She
navigated through new construction and arteries of roads that hadn’t
existed six months before. The
Virginia Technology corridor was booming as one office building after
another became the nerve center for a new corporate headquarters or
regional office. Once we
glided into a parking space, my contact said, “the Vice President of
Sales is here, I want you to meet him.”
I took a deep breath and headed for the bathroom.
I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any spinach stuck in
between my teeth.
exactly prepared and my heart began to race.
I have long since dubbed this the ‘just enough nervousness to
keep me honest’ syndrome. As
I waited, my mind drifted to a National Geographic presentation on
South America I had attended. After
the slide show, the photographer unleashed at least 50 ‘ums’ and
‘you knows’ while partially answering the audience’s questions.
I couldn’t figure out his main points either.
I was thinking that I didn’t want to come across like that
presenter. He might have
been a great photographer, but the presentation lacked a certain
presence and focus. The
full power of his voice was hidden.
Knowing how to handle an audience or an executive is integral
to being an effective communicator.
Here’s what you need to do if you find yourself unexpectedly
presenting to an audience or to an executive and want to immediately
increase your presentation power. These techniques also apply if you
have more time to prepare.
Set Expectations – Immediately set expectations up front.
Ask how long you have to present and what the executive and
audience would like to takeaway. Politely
ask that all electronic devices be turned off and then deliver on your
Focus Your Message – Pick two or three key points that show your
value proposition based on what the executive wants to hear and how
long you have to present. Weave
these points throughout your presentation for even greater
Be Congruent - The best compliment a speaker can get is one of
believability will increase when you are the same person in front of
an audience as you are in a small group or one-on-one.
Executives don't want to listen to a speaker who “pretends” to be somebody else.
If you don’t know, be honest and say that you will find out
the answer later.
It's About Them - Skip the
history of your company and why you are better than your competition.
Since you are presenting to the executive, he has already accepted you
in some way. Keep
reminding yourself that it's always about them (the customer).
Promote your value showing that you and your services are a
match for their organization.
Anticipate Questions – Have a backup plan.
If your organization was involved in the news, immediately
address the issues. This
prevents the executive from 'stewing'
on this topic during your presentation and not listening to your
message. Also, have a
‘contingency file’ with you at all times before you walk into the
presentation with articles, testimonials and other material.
It shows the executive and the audience that you have
anticipated many questions.
Remove Barriers - Make sure you remove the podium, chairs, and other
clutter that are barriers to your communication.
You want the executive to be focused on you and not get
distracted. Move closer
and keep your arms from crossing in front of your body.
Having somewhat animated arms or leaving them at your sides
will increase your passion.
Smile Warmly - Smiling will naturally draw your audience and the
executive closer to you and to your position.
It conveys warmth and understanding.
Some presenters think too much and this becomes a frown or an
End with Action – Before the executive or the audience has a
chance to leave, make sure that you ask the very important question,
“Did I cover everything you wanted to hear.”
Get the executive’s approval that you made effective use of
the time allotted. Ask
about the next steps and when they will be covered, then get out your
calendar and enter the date.
met with the Vice President of Sales, I anticipated good news, but he
threw me a curve ball. He
said, “Why should we hire you instead of the competition?” I took
a deep breath, paused, and said, "I understand your challenges,
bring relevancy from other industries, and can deliver measurable
value." A smile of
recognition spread across his face.
He scheduled a meeting with his purchasing department the
following week. By
practicing these techniques, a stronger and more confident voice will
awaken within from the rubble of unfocused presentations, misused
words, and unrehearsed programs. Your presentations will be more
meaningful, get you invited back, and allow for a greater chance to
add another perfect customer.
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