How to Prevent Presentation and Speaking Disasters

I just got back from my whirlwind speaking engagements and it occurred to me that you might be interested in these recent experiences (especially since speaking in the number one way to increase to raise your visibility and credibility in the industry). In a matter of two weeks, I spoke at two different conferences. Although the topic was the same the audience for each was different.

In Florida I was the first speaker at the Prestige Products Conference. Boy, was I nervous.I was using a new and untested presentation and was the first guinea pig on the stage. I checked my PowerPoint beforehand (and carried two back-up copies) and was leery of the ever waiting glitches in presentations. Everything went well and I finished exactly within the 45 minute time period. This is something you can’t always gauge even with practice. If you get nervous and speak fast, it will shorten your speaking time. Then this leaves dead time before the next speaker and it makes you look like an amateur.

The group was great. The asked loads of question and connected with me and my topic. I got ton of business cards from members of the audience who wanted a copy of the entire of the presentation. I made a point of speaking to everyone too and asked their opinion of the other presentations.

The second gig was very different. I was the last speaker on the first day’s session. I worked my self into a frenzy after watching Hallmark, Kraft Foods and Sherwin Williams’s present programs with all kinds of special effects including video clips. Yikes, here I was with my simple PowerPoint presentation competing for attention at the end of a long day.

By this time I was a wreck, I knew my stuff was good from the previous week’s experience, but what about the “show”? I did a quick once over of my slides at the break and everything looked in order. When I got up finally to speak, after a very technical tedious program, I relaxed a little. It was really hard to read such a large audience, where they tired, bored and seemingly uninterested. I panicked when my second speech was missing two slides which I “ad libbed” and I had no bells and whistles to keep them awake. Surprise! Again, I got lots of questions and business cards even without the special effects.

The next day I spoke to a lot of the attendees about the previous day’s programs. To my amazement most felt “the big names presentations” were dull, canned or not really relevant to what they were looking for. I even got a terrific testimonial from one attendee about how I had “great takeaways” of information.

So why am I telling you all of this? It’s not the “name” of the company or the special effects that makes the presentation or the information of value, it’s what the attendees learn and hear from you that makes your presentation a success. Connect with your audience by understanding why they are there in the first place. Don’t get caught up in bells and whistles or special effects that detract from the “substance” of your program. If the material is good, your presentation will be too, even if there are a few hitches in it. Speakers are not “gods” to be worshiped from afar. Those who connect with their audience though solid content and information will be remembered long after the “fancy” presentations fade.

Common Sense and Presentations Skills in Getting Jobs

Many students often ask me how I can pass a job interview, assessment centres etc…

I always answer in a simple sentence: Common sense!

Always have a common sense. Not only have common sense but also try to demonstrate it because the interviewees/assessors will ask you several questions to see whether you have such quality or not.

(I will write more articles in the near future to elaborate on each point)

Another tip for securing a good job is presentation skills, people often think they have such ‘talent’ by being able to speak clearly or loudly; however, they often fail terribly at it.

My advice is: get the content right because nothing worse than a presentation with a shallow content, remember you have to know more than your audience, otherwise they will crush you with questions afterward.

A simple strategy is to have a structured presentation including: Agenda (what you will cover in the presentation), Introduction (what you will take about), Main body (the actual content) and Conclusion (a summary of what you covered).

The delivery style is as important as the content, think of politicians, they are often great speaks with crap content.

Good delivery style, from my own perspectives, relies on the ability to present without using notes or reading off the slides (if you’re using Powerpoint), practice your presentation over and over before presenting. If you are in an assessment centre, make sure you stick to the point, be precise and don’t waffle, I find it very helpful when I write on a flipchart while presenting in an assessment centre, because I won’t have PowerPoint facility and the time to prepare.

As a final point, always always always maintain an eye contact with ALL the audience as it will differentiate you from an average presenter.

Online Sales Presentations – Effectively Selling Value on Web Demonstrations

In today’s Web 2.0 world, the use of online web conferences for the purpose of selling or demonstrating a product or service are becoming more and more popular with companies employing a business to business [B2B] sales force. The proliferation of platforms including market leaders Go To Meeting and WebEx with many secondary competitors such as Dim Dim, Glance and Fuze all offer the same basic service and are all vying for market share. These platforms can prove to be a valuable and cost effective way to sell products or services for 3 main reasons: 1) The cost of travel to/from sales presentations is eliminated. Airfare, rental car, hotels and meals are not required. 2) In what used to take up to 3 days including travel to visit a sales prospect can be done in an hour or less. This allows a salesperson to increase the number of sales presentations by up to 15x! 3) A salesperson just needs the skills it takes to speak and present effectively online, which many find much more comfortable rather than speaking in person. This opens the door for many more qualified salespeople requiring less salary than a typical “road warrior” type salesperson further reducing the cost of sale for companies. All this being said, very few sales people know how to effectively use this platform and in the following article I’ll outline why a web conference is NOT a phone sale, the 5 biggest mistakes most commonly made using this platform and how to best duplicate a “face to face” selling environment online.

Selling over the phone is a dying method for selling products & services. National “Do Not Call” lists, voice mail, cell phones, phone screeners and decision makers spending less time in a standard office environment all contribute to the decline in the effectiveness of traditional inside, phone sale. The good news is web conferencing and demonstrations bring something new to the table; visual evidence, convenience & privacy. Asking a prospect to spend 15-30 minutes viewing the latest & greatest product or service that can benefit them is a much easier request to fill than hoping to catch someone at their desk and spit out enough info to avoid being hung up on. Effective web demonstrations are generally set in advance by the use of marketing channels much like a traditional face to face meeting but with much more flexibility in availability since travel & geographic constraints are eliminated. Like the traditional phone sale, the prospect is able to keep a virtual boundary that is lost in a face to face meeting which results in many more prospects agreeing to meet with you…online. The prospect is less fearful that a pushy salesman will show up and cause them to purchase something on the spot. If presented properly, prospects actually feel like your offering them the opportunity to view something of value rather than feel like they are doing a favor by not hanging the phone up. All of the above contributes to a less intrusive, more accepted and increasingly popular sales opportunity.

Many salespeople that utilize this new method of selling don’t realize that because this is not a traditional phone sale that their approach has to be different than what they might be used to with a typical over-the-phone sales pitch. Many salespeople still “show up & throw up” and bombard their prospect with as much information as they can in the shortest amount of time. It’s as if they are still afraid of the hang up and are trying to get across as much information before the dial tone sets in. A web demonstration is the complete opposite and should be treated as such. During a web demonstration, you have earned the prospects undivided attention for pre-specified time to introduce the benefits of your product or service. Another common mistake is salespeople tend to “lecture” over the demonstration. This brings back memories in the prospect’s mind of sitting in class watching a projector or blackboard. Extremely Boring! The goal is to encourage involvement and facilitate a meaningful conversation that will uncover the prospects “hot buttons” or what can be described as a “needs analysis”. If this is done properly, the prospect has given you a road map on exactly to how to sell them! This brings to mind another point. Listen! Listen! Listen! The old saying God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason especially holds true here. If you pay attention to the parts of demonstration that generate the most interest and listen to their questions and comments, the prospect will reveal the key to earning their business. Finally you must respect the prospect’s time. Before any demonstration you should set the time frame of how long this presentation will last. If it runs long because they extend it through questions and conversation, that’s okay! In fact that is what you want, however, if you end up doing most of the talking it better wrap up in the allotted time or you instantly become pest. Today’s sales environment is all about permission, not intrusion. When you set the expectations of the web demonstration you basically getting permission to present your product or service for that appointment time only. Don’t overstay your welcome.

Web Conferencing and Demonstrations will continue to gain popularity as the cost of doing business steadily increases. As a salesperson this is a skill set that is necessary to learn as soon as possible. If done properly, you can earn more money in less time and in many companies never leave your house. Web demonstrations creates a virtual marketplace that is inexpensive and highly effective.