Businesses are always looking for new ways to sell themselves, and it’s easy to imagine that there’s a fancy trick for achieving sales, and if they can just crack the puzzle, they’ll succeed. But the secret of selling is quite simple: put yourself before your customers. And one of the best ways to do that is by giving a presentation.
Some people still associate presentations with sharp-suited corporate types giving slick PowerPoint presentations to an audience with glazed eyes. But we all have wisdom to impart, and there are plenty of people who want to hear it.
So why is giving a presentation a good idea? They give you a chance to:-
- Meet your customers. There’s nothing like face-to-face contact, and when your customers actually get to meet you and find out what you can offer them, you’ll deepen the connection with them.
- Show Your Expertise: The aim of a presentation is to help people gain new skills or new knowledge. Your presentation gives you a chance to display your expertise, and demonstrate to your customers that they can benefit from it. For example, if you’re an insurance broker, you can help them decode the fine print in the products that insurance companies offer. Or if you make your own cheese, you can show your customers how it’s done.
- Sell Without Selling: The most successful sellers I know appear to just be chatting away, but this seemingly idle chat helps them create meaningful relationships with customers that lead to sales. If you’re not a natural seller, giving a presentation lets you talk to your customers and share with them. They’ll appreciate the effort you put in, and will be more likely to buy.
So what will you present about? Once you’ve decided this, everything becomes easier.
You’re in business because you know things that other people don’t. Share that knowledge with people. Give then an insight into how you go about your business, or teach them simple skills that they can put into effect in their own lives. They will come back to you, looking for your expert knowledge. You can also give them some insider knowledge that will help them make the most of your products and services and come back for more.
You can base your presentation on success stories or testimonials from customers who have used your products, or who had problems that you helped resolved. This is another way to demonstrate what you can offer, and people like to hear stories that they can relate to.
If there are particular products you would like your customers to know about, you can road-test them in your presentation. This will give your customers a chance to experience the products for themselves, and it will whet their appetite. You can also do this if you have a service business, by outlining the packages you offer and showing your customers how they can benefit from them.
Now it’s time to prepare your presentation. This is the crucial part. This is what separates a shoddy presentation from a polished one.
Know exactly what you want to say: Write out your presentation in full. This will give you a structure for your thoughts, even if you don’t end up sticking to it.
Summarise your presentation
Identify the main points you want your audience to take from your presentation and summarise them, on slides or on cards for yourself. The sides and cards will be your safety net if you find yourself getting lost.
Learn it off
You don’t need to learn your presentation rigidly by heart, but rehearse it until you’re comfortable with the material. Learn it in the way that suits you best, whether it’s through pictures, mind maps or repeating it endlessly. When you’re learning it off, identify places where can take a brief pause, at the end of a point or even where you see a comma in your script. This gives you a breather and gives your audience time to absorb what you’re saying – as long as you don’t come to a dead stop.
Alternatives to Slides
Some people have an aversion to PowerPoint slides, which is understandable if they’ve sat through too many presentations where the presenter was glued to them. But your audience will need visual stimulus to help them absorb your words. You can give them handouts, or use your products as props. Even if you do choose to use slides, you should still give handouts. It’s a relief for people to know they don’t have to take notes.
Timing Your Presentation
Rehearsing your presentation will give you an idea of how long it will take you to deliver it. Make sure you stick to the time you have been allotted. Going over time is unfair to other waiting speakers, and it’s unfair to the audience, as their concentration will fade after a while. It’s also counter-productive for you, because the point you want to make will be lost if the audience’s attention has wandered.
Generally, we say three words in a second, so you can use the word count on your computer to measure how long the presentation will be. The timings may change on the day, so it’s important to have an idea of what bits of the presentation you can afford to cut if you find yourself unexpectedly running out of time. Have a line in your head that you definitely want to finish with, no matter what.
Nerves will be your biggest barrier on the day of the presentation. There are three strategies for overcoming them.
#1. No One Will Notice Your Errors
You know your presentation, but your audience doesn’t, so they won’t know if you skipped a line, or even a paragraph. And people aren’t paying nearly as much attention to you as you might think. Depending on the time of day, they’ll be thinking about the warm bed they have left, lunch or home time. Or they’ll be taking a sneaky look at their phone to check whether the kids have been collected. This means that that stumble that was glaringly obvious to you probably went completely over their heads.
#2. Trust in People’s Goodwill
Having said that, people are attending your presentation because they want to hear what you have to say, and they’ll be well disposed towards you. They’ll admire you for having the guts to stand up in front of an audience, and they’ll also admire your expertise and knowledge. Overall, they’re not going to be nearly as hard on you as you are on yourself, so enjoy the opportunity to connect with an audience and share your passions and wisdom with them.
#3. Stand and Plant
You feel nerves in your body, so it makes sense that a solution to your nerves can also be found in your body. As you reach the podium, stand and plant your feet about six inches apart from each other. This will quite literally help you feel grounded. Take a deep breath and look around the room. This will give you a chance to compose yourself before you begin to speak.
You’ve done all the hard work. Now trust that that work has paid off. As the presentation goes on, you’ll start to relax as it all comes together. If you find yourself becoming stuck on a certain part, just move on to the next part. You can double back to the part you missed, and the audience won’t notice. When it’s over, bask in the applause you’ll receive.
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