There are few situations in the workplace that induce the level of stress that giving a presentation does. Not only do you have to speak in front of an audience, but oftentimes the quality of your presentation will decide whether a potential client gives you their business or not.
There are many different roads to giving an engaging and effective presentation, there is no one strategy which is superior. The right strategy for you will depend on a number of factors, including your personality, your preferred conversational style, the client you are hoping to win over, and the project that you are presenting.
Giving the very best presentation you possibly can depends upon more than what’s on your slideshow. In fact, one of the most common mistakes people make with their presentations is that they focus so heavily on making their slides look pretty that they end up becoming cluttered and needlessly complex. Simpler is usually better; you want to ensure that your audience is able to easily understand your presentation and that they walk away having taken in the key points.
In order to really sell your idea, it is important that your audience can see that you have confidence, both in yourself and in the idea that you are trying to sell them on. The most important step to instilling confidence in your audience is to prepare as much as you can beforehand. Don’t just memorize what you’re going to say, but also give some consideration to the kind of questions that the audience is likely to ask, and ensure that you have adequate answers prepared beforehand.
However, it is also possible to over prepare, causing the answers you give to sound as if they have been pre-prepared. You want your presentation and your answers to sound as natural as possible. What you’re doing is essentially a sales pitch, but it shouldn’t feel that way to your audience.
Whenever possible, give your audience examples of similar tasks and projects that you have taken on in the past to demonstrate that you have successfully overcome the necessary hurdles before and that you have experience in delivering on these kinds of promises.
If you are faced with a question that you don’t know the answer to then you should be honest about this fact. The audience can tell when you’re deflecting or being evasive and this will greatly damage their confidence in you. Being willing to say you don’t know will demonstrate honesty and integrity.
When deciding on the content of your presentation, be sure that it prioritizes the client and their needs, not your own. Don’t spend too much time telling the client why you as an individual are perfect for this project. Instead, try to focus on the project itself and reassure your audience that you are confident but not arrogant.
Any way that you can demonstrate your organisational skills will also help to instil confidence in your audience. In fact, it is the little touches that make the most difference here. Ensure that your appearance is smart and if you are bringing any extra documentation, such as a printout copy of your presentation, then use a binder. You can order custom binders for which you can tailor the design to your needs.
Making a Connection
Making a connection with a prospective client will make it much easier to sell to them; as consumers, we all prefer to buy products from individuals and companies that we trust and like.
The easiest way to make a connection is to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the project that you are selling. Clients want to know that they will be working with someone who cares about the end result, and that the investment they are making will be respected and treated seriously. Find something about the project that you can really get behind and demonstrate enthusiasm for. If you can reference and show any previous work you have done that is relevant to the task ahead then do so.
The client will be looking for you to show that your enthusiasm extends beyond the project itself, demonstrate that you are eager to work with the client and that you will give serious consideration to their wants and needs. After the presentation, offer to leave copies of it with the client while they make up their minds. If you’re going to do this, it would be wise to invest in 3-ring binders to secure the documents. This option is ideal for presentations as the client will have both your presentation and your a reminder of your brand in the palm of their hands, making your presentation much more memorable.
You should always try and get their email address and business card to then follow up with and also then if you feel appropriate to connect with via LinkedIn and other business networking platforms.
Another effective tactic for building a connection with the audience is to do as much as you can to make your presentation feel like a discussion. There are a number of different ways that you can make this happen. For example, you could introduce your presentation by saying something along the lines of “I’m going to give you a short presentation which outlines the project and briefly explains why I / we are the right people to take it on. I’ll then open the floor up for any questions or comments you might have.” Another option is to divide your presentation up into logical sections and pause after each section to ask the audience if they are understanding everything and if they have any questions.
Of course, adding a little humour to your presentation will help to establish a rapport between you and the client. If they are not only interested in your presentation but actually enjoy watching it, then they will have a much more positive impression of both it and you.
Obviously, you need to make sure that your humour isn’t in any way offensive or controversial, you need to remain professional at all times.
Don’t Just Read Them a PowerPoint
PowerPoint has become the standard tool for putting together and presenting slideshows and it is certainly an excellent piece of software for this purpose. The mistake that most people make when using PowerPoint is that they feel the need to add all manner of animations, graphics, and other effects, which add nothing to the presentation and in fact may even make it less readable and slow it down. Keep your presentation simple and effective, make sure that everything on the slide needs to be there and has a purpose.
The other common mistake people make when using PowerPoint is that they simply read to the audience what is displayed on the screen.
This is completely pointless and will not create a good impression of you to the client. It is fine for the presentation to summarise what you are saying, but you should ensure that you give the client a reason to listen to what you are saying. If they can simply read everything for themselves, they will feel as if you are wasting their time.
Give a Summary
At the end of your presentation, give the audience a summary of your proposal to ensure that everything is fresh in their minds when you begin to take questions. The summary should be concise and should remind your audience of the most important aspects of the proposal.
Creating and giving an engaging presentation requires just the right amount of preparation and as much confidence as you can muster. Stay calm and analyse your presentation from the perspective of the audience to ensure that you convey everything that you need to and give the best possible impression of yourself.
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