Business Developers: How to “Fix” Your Presentations

  |  May 4, 2009

There’s no room in the workplace for people who don’t care about making the very best impression each and every time they speak or present. If you make any of these mistakes, you’re risking your job and your reputation.

There is one common thread uniting these mistakes: they arise because people focus on the presentation rather than on the audience. Audiences are filled with human beings who have certain hard-wired needs. Make these mistakes and your audience will quickly forget what you said. Make the quick fixes and your audiences will stay focused on your every word.

Mistake #1: Opening with a routine introduction. Who you are, why you’re there, what you’re going to talk about.

Fix #1: Always include a reference to the audience in the first sentence, by using the word ‘you’.
“You come to work each day eager to (their mission here)”
“Imagine that you’re (accomplishing their mission) and reaping the benefits of those accomplishments.” “You should have been there when (major event they would relate to)”
“We have something in common: we all want to (accomplish their mission or a sub-set of it).”
These are attention-getting openings.

Mistake #2: Thinking that slide decks are synonymous with “presentation.”

Fix #2: It’s your content that is synonymous with “speech” or “presentation.” You must know where you’re going (your Call-to-Action); your 2 or 3 Key Points; your interesting and varied Leading Materials that take the audience inexorably to your key points; and your Attention-getting Opening. You must start from the end and work towards the beginning.

Once you’ve created your content, you then decide what part of it would be effectively supported by a slide or two. Other supporting tools are props, handouts, models, books from which you read quotes, hard copies of articles, exercises, music or sounds.

The slide/no slide issue relates directly to the human brain. We require variety and stimulation in order to pay attention. The more variety you provide to your audience, the better they will pay attention and the more your message will stick.

Mistake #3: Getting input and feedback from people who think just like you think.

Fix #3: Subordinates tend to tell you what they think you want to hear: it’s great, you’re great, the audience will love it.

Superiors will tell you what they would do which is likely to be mistakes #1 and #2.

Peers think the same way you do and will reinforce your ideas, which may or may not be good for your audience.

You must take a deep breath, remember that the speech or presentation is not about you–and get input from someone outside your circle, but not your subordinates or superiors.

The person you want to go to for advice is someone who will advocate for your audience. This person will tell you when you’re too technical or speaking jargon; they’ll hear disconnects and things that confuse them; they’ll be able to point out what is too much information; they’ll tell you what they would think and say after the presentation or speech.

Thank this person and make the changes they suggest. You will invariably have a better speech or presentation.

Mistake #3.5: Thinking there are many, many rules about presentations and business speaking, so that you are paralyzed or fearful and don’t get help or avoid speaking altogether.

Fix #3.5: There are only two rules for extremely successful business speaking and presenting:

1)      Put the Audience First
2)      Be Yourself, polished

Get accolades from your audiences and requests for more appearances by avoiding these mistakes, implementing these fixes and remembering these two simple rules.

Speaking does put the spotlight on you and when you in turn put the focus on your audience, they love you for it. There is no better way to grow your business and achieve greater status.

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