09 March 2011

Seven Steps to More Compelling Presentations

Ensure your that audience is engaged and understands the ideas you are putting forward.

An engaging seminar presentation can be a powerful tool for building relationships with clients and prospects.

A successful presentation needs more than just great information, says Lisa Braithwaite, a public-speaking coach in Santa Barbara, Calif. “People want to relate to you,” she says. “They want to be able to trust you and they want to be able to have a relationship with you.”
To gain that trust and build relationships, follow these public-speaking tips:

1. Speak up
Make sure you’re speaking at the right volume.

Most people speak too softly when they’re presenting, says George Torok, owner of speechcoachforexecutives.com in Burlington, Ont. Project your voice so you can be heard by the entire group. Just be careful not to yell.

2. Take your time
Slow down and give the audience time to hear your words.

Remember, the audience doesn’t know your speech the way you do. Give them time to absorb the information and follow your presentation.

Says Torok: “Your listeners have to hear the words, digest the words and think about them.”

3. Take breaks
Pause occasionally to emphasize important points.

Pausing before and after you say something significant can serve to underline that point’s importance, Torok says. “The effect is like putting air quotes around [the phrase].”

Pausing also makes you appear confident. Stand quiet in front of the audience before you start, Torok says. Pausing for eight seconds before you begin will compel audience members to focus their attention on you.

4. Explain everything — even what you think is simple
Don’t leave your audience in the dark. Explain all acronyms and industry jargon used in the presentation.

Presenters often forget that audience members are not experts, Braithwaite says, and don’t know all of the industry terms.

“Just flat out explain [the acronym] and get it out of the way,” she says. “Then you can move on and people aren’t distracted trying to figure out what you mean.”

5. Give everyday examples
Make your presentation easier to understand by using concrete examples.

The financial services industry is rife with abstract concepts and they can leave clients and prospects confused. Make it easier for listeners to follow you by citing examples that involve people they can identify with.

“Bring it down to the level of the everyday experiences that people have,” says Braithwaite.

For instance, when talking about insurance, give examples of the incidents — such as a flood or a disease — that will trigger a benefit for clients.

6. Make it a conversation
Engage the audience by asking rhetorical questions.

Reciting fact after fact will become monotonous, bore the audience and make the presentation feel like a lecture, Torok says. Posing questions will frame the presentation as a conversation and urge the audience members think about the ideas you are presenting.

Examples of questions to use include: What’s the market looking like? What are the choices for you today? Who’s made money doing this already? How do we move forward from here?

7. Have fun
A presentation doesn’t have to be a sombre occasion. Get your audience excited about you and your business by adding a little humour.

“Somehow financial advisors manage to take all the fun out of a presentation,” says Braithwaite. “They [seem to think that] if a presentation is fun and engaging, then somehow it can’t also be taken seriously.”

If you’re enthusiastic about your topic, she says, your audience will be more interested in you.





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