We all have to deliver a presentation at some point in our lives. The kindergartener “presents” in show and tell, the politician presents in hopes to get elected, the PhD candidate presents in pursuit of a title. And, of course, the sales rep presents in order to close a deal.
Over the course of my career, I have delivered hundreds of presentations and sat through my fair share as well. Some were good and others made me want to jump out the nearest window. So, what was the difference? Here are some best practices I’ve developed over the years:
1.PREPARE – When you’re creating your presentation, keep things simple. No fancy power point transition can deliver a message as effectively as you can through your words. Over the years, I’ve learned that less is more on a slide, which means I need to know my material well to effectively explain what’s not there.
2. PRACTICE – In our workshops, we ask our attendees to role play what is being taught. I’m consistently amazed at how people struggle with this. But, the only way to really practice is to make the words come out of your mouth. It’s funny how halted and jerky a presentation sounds during my first practice run, when in my mind I was so witty and articulate. But sure enough, after three, four and five times, the words start to flow, I build my cadence, and I can add some finishing touches like pauses for emphasis, interesting asides, and, of course, a bit of humor, to help my words really stick.
3. CONNECT – In order to be engaging presenters, we must be entertainers, too. How do we entertain? If size permits, engage the participants by asking them thoughtful questions. Invite discussion. Many presenters are fearful to do this because they are unsure of what the responses will be and how they may derail the presentation. But, I’ve found that the better I know my material, the more effective I am at steering the dialogue. Yes, there has been some unscripted participation that has been shocking, but some that is also memorable, entertaining and engaging.
If asking questions seems too daunting, then share a personal experience and relate it to the concept being presented. Recently, I shared a story about meeting a 20-year-old who had never flown before, and helping him from the ticket counter, through security and to the gate. I related my story to the sales process steps that I was teaching. When I asked the client how she thought the presentation went, the first thing she mentioned was my story. Real life examples are engaging and memorable.
Need tips on effectively presenting when you and your prospect are not in the same room? Check out our article on being a more effective virtual salesperson.