As a member of the CPSA -Canadian Professional Sales Association, I was a contributor to their electronic magazine available for CSP’s – Certified Sales Professionals.
The focus of the article is a formula of three simple steps to follow when preparing presentations. I was inspired and reminded by a business colleague who has sometimes struggled when developing presentations.
Enjoy the article, Richard Peterson, CSP – North America’s Presentation Coach™
The CPSA (Canadian Professional Sales Association) is one of the leaders in sales training. Consider honing your skills or developing new ones by attending any one of the many programs coming in the year.
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This month’s feature is Presentation Skills,
Contributed by Richard A. Peterson, CSP (Certified Sales professional)
North America’s Presentation Coach™
How to Create . . . more Impact in your Presentations!
During a series of driving trips recently from Sudbury to Toronto I had time to reflect on the impact of my own sales presentations that I routinely make to a variety of prospects. As the kilometers fell behind me, I began to look for the commonalities of my own presentations and the professionals I have business dealings with. All the while I kept remembering words passed onto me from a colleague, “a presentation is just another presentation like the one before.” As it turns out, my thoughts and actions transformed dramatically after a chance meeting with North America’s Presentation Coach™, Richard Peterson CSP, and he shared with me some elements he considers essential to preparing a more powerful presentation.
In the brief conversation that ensued he shared three key areas he concentrates on when preparing his own presentations.
Many professionals have the ability of making a presentation. Fewer professionals have the ability of making high impact presentations. If a presentation is receiving finishing touches only moments before you make it, your chances of success can be greatly reduced. Your audience will know very quickly your level of readiness or lack thereof. Rehearsal both aloud and before peers is a way to learn about shortcomings or whether your audience will receive the message as you intended it. The use of audio or video feedback as a rehearsal technique is essential to ensuring your presentation stands out from the crowd. This is the time to pay attention to even the smallest detail of your supporting stories and how much they match your message. This is also the time to edit your stories and content for brevity and more impact. Know your base material cold and become comfortable with the need to craft your material as the audience reacts to it.
When there is anticipated positive reaction to a part in your presentation prepare yourself to expand on it for greater effect and the opportunity to demonstrate your natural expertise in the subject. This is the time to make last minute improvements, not while in front of your audience. Remember these three “P’s” – Prepare, Polish and Present!
Gone is the finely honed edge of professionalism demonstrated in the pre-presentation banter as the audience fades away into the everlasting torrent of bulleted text as it spins and swirls from all the sides of the screen and further supplemented by sound effects that only seem appropriate emanating form a children’s ride at the local county fair. When using visual aids it’s more effective to introduce less text that way your audience can concentrate on your words, gestures and body language for more impact. Check consistency in fonts, formatting and slide transitions. This is also the time to complete a streamlining edit. The streamlining edit can be difficult for some as the suggestion here is to reduce your slides by fifty percent from where you began before actually making the presentation. Be sure to rehearse with your visuals, as you would actually use them so that you become familiar with them and see that your message and visual aids are congruent. A highly effective visual presentation technique is to introduce or transition to a visual before it actually appears on the screen. Carefully chosen and well-designed visuals will show your audience advance planning, creativity and a thorough thought process that weaves its way throughout your presentation.
An Influential Finish:
The final words you say may be the most remembered. Just as the preparation and practice that went into the other parts of the presentation, the finish will hold more influence with the audience if it is met with conclusion moving to action. This can be the time when some presenters choose to break their contract with the audience by going over their allotted time. Worse yet, not being able to complete the presentation within their allotted time. Remember this is one of your last chances for your audience to be suitably influenced and charged with emotion to move and take action in the manner in which you intended. This is the time to connect the presentation opening and concurrent sections to suitably drive the point home. Some professionals leave the finish to chance by leaving the move forward decisions to the audience with predictably inconsistent results. It is also important to maintain the tone of the presentation through to the end, it is considered risky to introduce contrast or new information at this powerful moment in the presentation.
Many professionals may underestimate the stakes involved when hastily creating a presentation, because in the end professionals should ask themselves do they enjoy creating and making presentations or creating and preparing for more success.