The ability to convince potential buyers or investors is a crucial element of any successful sales strategy. People need to be persuaded on why they need to do business with you. And the ability to deliver effective presentations about your ideas or products cannot be overemphasized.
Have you ever attended a presentation where you wished it was over from the moment it just started? Well, I have on several occasions. And I can tell you that I have always left such lackluster presentations feeling very bad for the presenters.
And that is because it was obvious that they hadn’t done their homework properly.
One very important variable to consider for everyone delivering a presentation is the very short attention span that we as humans have.
According to a study conducted in 2016, the attention span of humans was estimated to be about 8.25 seconds, which is shorter than that of a goldfish which seats at 9 seconds.
Therefore, in order to effectively pitch your ideas or products across to your audience of interest, every sales representative or executive must be versed in delivering impactful presentations.
It is pertinent to add that you do not have to be an expert in the art of public speaking to be able to make the required impact. You just have to master how to keep your audience’s attention fixed on you and your content for the entire duration of your presentation.
As someone who works in Research, and has to make periodic presentations to several teams, I have learned through years of practice the most effective way to communicate with different types of audiences.
And it doesn’t matter if you have a stage fright or people phobia problem (because I also used to deal with those things). Because, if you need to get the presentation done as part of your job or business, then it has to be done.
Now, let’s dive right into it.
Steps to Deliver Effective Presentations
1. Understand your potential audience. One of the first things I try to figure out when preparing for a presentation is to understand who my potential audience is. Because understanding the people in the room has a major role to play in how effective or ineffective your presentation would be. For example, the approach and manner in which I would present to a room packed with medical personnel would be totally different from the way in which I would give a similar presentation to people with limited medical knowledge. While doctors and nurses may be thrilled with all the medical language and jargons, such may not be well received by people unfamiliar with medicine. Therefore, planning your presentation, and tailoring it to fit your audience of interest is one of the first steps to delivering effective presentations.
2. Understand your product or service offering well. This involves attempting to know everything (or almost everything) about what you are trying to pitch. And the key to this is adequate preparation, which requires time and some effort. I once attended a pharmaceutical sales promotion, and when the sales rep was asked about potential side effects of the medication, they could hardly vocalize intelligently. You need to spend the time to do your research on your product or service, as well as spend some time to prepare for possible questions, you might be asked.
3. Practice, practice, and practice: Prior to delivering your highly researched product or service, you may want to spend the time to go over your material. Practice your talk before a friend, family member, or in front of the mirror, if you are unable to do so before a real human being. Watch out for your gesticulations, body language and how you make eye contact with others. Because you do not want to be saying anything different from what your body communicates across.
4. Plan your attire appropriately: Appearance before an audience matters, because most times, before they hear you, they have already seen you. And people are quick to make first impressions, based on what they see. You must dress to suit the situation. You do not want to be too casual for a semi-formal to a formal audience, or too professional in an otherwise relaxed environment. Understand your audience and dress to match the occasion.
5. Use more graphics and fewer words for the actual slide presentation. Graphical displays have a way to capture your audience’s attention and focus, than the verbosity of words. Keep your audience engaged by employing the use of insightful graphics with different hues and shades, which tells the story of how your product or service is going to ease their pain or meet that nagging need. The use of this tactic cannot be overemphasized.
6. If you must use words, be conservative about them by limiting your points to single sentence bullets. Be brief and concise in passing your main points across. It’s not too helpful writing paragraphs to pitch ideas for a product or for a sales promotion. The purpose of your presentation should be to tell people what they don’t know, what they know but from a different or limited perspective or adding new knowledge to what they already know. You want to spend the time putting your own unique spin on your product or service, to keep your audience engaged.
7. Engage more with your audience, rather than keeping your eyes glued to the screen. I have sat through presentations, where the presenter was glued to their screens as if they were presenting to their computer or projector. In order to carry your audience along and keep them engaged, you must talk more, and let it feel like you are having a conversation with a friend. That’s the importance of preparing well for the topic and using one sentence bullets. After stating the bullet point, buttress more on that point with evidence and insight. Use your hands, and body to communicate your point across. If you are the shy type (which I used to be), then rather than looking directly into the eyes of your audience, try to look above their heads, and continue to maintain your cool.
8. Once in a while during your presentation, break the ice in the room by sharing stories or jokes or ask open-ended questions. But try not to put anyone on the spot by requiring that a specific person answer your questions. You should definitely know the answer to the question you are putting out, in case no one is able to answer it. You can also use that as an icebreaker, by putting your unique spin on it again, and answer the question in a fun and entertaining manner.
9. Finally, try as much as possible to keep your presentations as short as possible. There is nothing new under the sun, so your product or service may not be the first of its kind. The possibility that there are other similar goods or services out there is real. Therefore, do not attempt to be overly verbose, in an attempt to give your audience too much information. Just focus on driving home the salient points. And if you have intrigued their interest enough, your audience would go back to find out more information about what you have shared with them. Otherwise, like me, they may just be sitting through your talk, painfully waiting for the end of the hour, in order to bolt out.
In wrapping this up,
Effectively pitching your ideas or services to potential investors or buyers is crucial to any sales or business venture.
You do not have to be an expert to give effective presentations, but you can master the skills to keep your audience engaged the whole time.
With adequate planning and practice, you can set yourself up to succeed from the moment you show up.
To your continued success. Cheers!!!
Evi Abada (www.pearlsglobalimpact.org)
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