People do business with those they like and trust! This certainly holds true in what we say and how we speak to others. The key ingredient to a good presentation is relevant and “meaty” content, where the information and presenter are polished and professional so the presentation measures up to the listener’s expectations. The verbal message, as well as the presenter’s non-verbal signals, should be consistent. An example would be a warm verbal greeting should exhibit open and relaxed body language versus a tense facial expression and a rigid body that is not warm or inviting. This would connote the person really was not sincere in what they were saying. The first impression is made in as little as seven seconds and is difficult to change. Within twenty seconds of hearing someone speak (whether on stage, at a networking event or on a sales call), the listener is making up his/her mind as to whether he/she wants to continue listening or divert their attention elsewhere. Incorporating the following tips into your presentation will help build enjoyable, profitable and productive relationships.

Key points to avoid in your presentation

Does Everything Benefit the Audience versus satisfying the speaker’s ego? Granted, we must have the credentials to show that we are an expert on the topic, however, beginning a speech with a litany of “I, me, my” can turn off many listeners. Try to find out all you can about your audience ahead of time to help determine what you want to share. You would probably address a group of college students differently from a professional organization of executives. A quick list of accomplishments, possibly in the form of an introduction by someone else, or on a marketing piece, can show the audience all of your experience, books or white papers written, awards, blogs, titles, etc. As you speak and share your personal or professional stories related to the subject, they will learn even more about your expertise, products and services.

How You Present: Any distracting mannerisms showing nervousness, frustration, fear (or numerous other non-verbal signals), stammering, nervous laughing, etc.,  can detract from the speaker’s credibility. Rather than being able to relax and absorb the message, the audience may end up uncomfortable and eventually tune out. Rehearsing in front of a mirror or a colleague, or even by recording yourself on a tablet or cell phone, can help you work out the bugs beforehand.

How Your Talk is Structured: Avoid the audience expending their energy trying to piece together bits of information into a cohesive unit. Ensure your key points are in proper sequence, whether chronologically or by relevant chunks of information (1. Problem/situation; 2. Examples or statistics to back you up; 3. What has been done so far; 4. What needs to be done to resolve the issue).

Graphics That Enforce, Not Distract. Use short, concise visual aids. It is difficult to listen to the speaker while trying to read a lengthy message on a slide. The audience should not have to guess what an image means rather than being able to hear and absorb the information. The less verbiage on each PowerPoint slide, the better. Try using physical demonstrations — writing on a white board for smaller audiences, graphs, charts, or statistics where the audience could interject their thoughts when the time is right. If they get a dear-in-the-headlights look on their face, go back and ensure that hey understand.

Pay Attention to Their Personal Needs. Our brain can turn to mush when it experiences information overload. A person who is thirsty, hungry, needing some coffee or soda, or a bathroom break, has a difficult time listening let alone focusing on, and appreciating, the message. If you see your audience disengaging or fidgeting, it may be time for a break. We can pack more punch with a shorter message (if need be) and have an alert audience than one whose comfort level  is suffering.

Showing You Value Your Audience. Show your audience you value them enough to make their experience completely worthwhile. Most people will forgive a less-than-perfect presentation if the content is helpful, educational and interesting. 

Stay tuned for more tips on giving confident, effective presentations no matter the size of the audience. Whether speaking to just one decision maker or to an entire auditorium of people, you want to be the one they choose to continue building a quality relationship with.

Rita Rocker is a national speaker, international author, trainer and coach with Transformation Academy, LLC

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