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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   January 2006

Now Presenting …

Develop dynamic presentation skills to engage your audience and to create more business

If you’re in sales, then presentations are part of your life every day. It’s important, then, to become an expert in expressing yourself. Whether you’re presenting to one person or to 100 people, the purpose is always the same — to generate more business.

To impact every audience, it is essential to follow proper methods of structure, preparation and delivery, as well as following up after the presentation.

Structuring a great presentation

Consider the three Ts — tell, tell and tell. You need to: 1. Tell the audience members what you’re going to tell them; 2. Tell them what you want to tell them; and 3. Tell them what you told them.

First, tell the audience members what you’re going to tell them in the introduction. Start with a hook, and use humor to excite the audience. Consider this anecdotal introduction, “I arrived at a Little League game the other day and asked a kid the score. He looked up smiling and said, ‘We’re down 18 to nothing.’ I said, ‘You don’t look too discouraged.’ He replied, ‘Discouraged? Why would I be discouraged? We haven’t even been up to bat yet!’

“Today, I am going to show you how to knock it out of the park at your next presentation regardless of your current score.”

After your hook, introduce your company and your unique value message. This message is what makes you different from everyone else. Many companies sell the same products, but none of them have you. For instance, tell the audience, “I will make you more money because I am exceptional. I am an expert in my products. I answer my phone, and I am always honest. If you give me the opportunity, I will help you build your business.”

Second, tell the audience what you want to tell them. Design the content of your presentation to meet your customers’ needs. Answer these questions: What’s the purpose? Who are the audience members, and how many will be attending? Where will you be delivering the presentation? Will you be able to use a computer and projector? Get all the details to help you prepare.

Develop your presentation in Microsoft’s PowerPoint (or a similar program) or use bulleted note cards. The body of the presentation must flow logically, clearly and concisely — not too slowly and not rushed. Invite questions after each segment.

Finally, tell the audience members what you told them and have your call to action. Your conclusion is the opportunity to end your dynamic presentation. Repeat the primary points that you want to drive home.

The call to action should always end with, “Do you have a loan for me today?” Too many great presentations miss this most valuable part. You must ask for the business. Add some incentive if audience members act quickly.

Overcoming nervousness

Being nervous before a presentation is perfectly natural. Statistics rank public speaking as the No. 1 fear or phobia. It even outranks the fear of death, so apparently some people would rather die the talk in front of others. Fortunately, there are antidotes to this phobia. Consider the following ways to overcome nervousness:

  1. Practice, practice and practice some more until you are completely comfortable with your content. Stand in front of a mirror or videotape yourself. You will discover idiosyncrasies and mannerisms that you may otherwise not be aware you have. Once you’re comfortable, do your presentation for your peers, friends or spouse.
  2. Memorize the first five minutes of your presentation. Also, keep your presentation at hand so you are always ready to jump into action. Many unplanned opportunities will arise, and you want to be ready and confident.
  3. Get plenty of rest the night before so you’re fresh.
  4. Eat lightly, and avoid coffee or alcohol.
  5. Arrive early. If you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation, arrive at least a half-hour before your presentation to ensure everything works properly.
  6. Find a quiet place to rehearse your introduction, stretch and breathe 10 to 15 minutes before your presentation.
  7. Think positively. Use personal affirmations such as, “I am going to swing for the fences and bring home some business.
  8. Find a few friendly faces in the audience for reassurance.
  9. Smile and be yourself.
  10. Remember, your audience is cheering for you, and you don’t look at nervous as you feel.

Delivering your presentation

You’ve practiced, you are rested and confident and you have your structured presentation in hand. Now it’s time to deliver your dynamic presentation.

When you “go live,” remember a few things to make yourself look great while keeping your audience engaged and excited.

First, realize that body language is important. Always stand up to do a presentation, even for small groups. Smile and create an open, receptive stance by letting your arms fall naturally at your sides. Use your hands to express yourself and support your statements, but put down distracting objects (and don’t fumble with loose change in your pockets). Maintain good posture; don’t lean on the podium or table. Your feet aren’t cement blocks, so walk around and engage the audience.

Engaging the audience helps to keep its attention and adds excitement. Move around the room, make eye contact, and ask for names to bring the audience into the presentation. Get the audience involved as a group. Ask questions such as, “Can I see a show of hands from anyone who wants to make more money this year?” Remember to ask for any questions at the end of each segment, and allow time for answers.

Visual aids also add a dimension to presentations. Using handouts, flip charts, whiteboards or PowerPoint presentations will help you stay on track. Unless you have completely memorized your presentation, use a visual aid or notes. Many good presentations can crash and burn if speakers lose their place after a question.

Following up

Post-presentation marketing is as important as the presentation itself. Follow up within 48 to 72 hours to start establishing relationships. Remember the golden rule of marketing: You must touch the customer seven to 10 times to make a sale, so don’t give up.

Giving dynamic presentations can be fun and exciting if they are properly structured and well-practiced. A great presentation to one person or to 100 people will result in more business and personal success. By following these steps, you will knock it out of the park at your next presentation.


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