Seven Successful Presentation Tips

  • Build trust with your audience

I want you all to sit back, close your eyes and imagine… “

Have you ever had a speaker ask you to do that? I love looking around to see how many people are “peeking” or just looking at their laps.

When you ask the audience to shut their eyes you are asking them to have an extreme amount of trust in you. You better be sure you have earned that trust or you will really put people off.

The other day I ordered a sandwich on French bread. The sandwich man took out the bread, started to cut it and then tossed it out. He looked at me and said, “If I wouldn’t eat it I don’t serve it. The bread is too hard. Would you like to make another choice?” I loved it!

He built trust by being straightforward; he didn’t bash his company and he gave me an option.

Whatever you ask your audience to do make sure you would be willing to do it if you were a shy person or a skeptical person. Those are your two toughest audiences. Build trust with your audience by being vulnerable yourself.

  • Develop consistency

You develop consistency by ensuring that you are clear on what you are speaking about and why it is important to your audience.

Once you have this clarity, you will find that your own character and integrity will shine through. This constancy in character, integrity, and body language is what will give all of your presentations the consistency you desire.

So how can you develop consistency in presentations to include an entire sales or management team?

It actually follows the exact same principle. The very first presentation needs to be clear on the outcome desired and why it’s important to the audience. If this is focused, and your presentation follows the Outcome FocusĀ® Approach, you can literally have hundreds of people delivering the same presentation in their own authentic manner and achieve consistent results.

  • Eliminate awkward pauses

I have a friend that had one of his speeches recorded. When he got it back he was impressed with how smoothly it all went. See he really thought he had conquered the problem and that he spoke that day without any awkward sounds or pauses… until he got the “out takes”. The sound company had cut all of his “ahs,” “umms,” and awkward throat clearings and then put them on one CD for him. It ran for almost 9 minutes straight of those awkward sounds!! He just about died.

What you want to recognize is that those awkward pauses and sounds are YOUR BRAINS way of transitioning what you are saying. Literally it is the gate in your brain from one channel to the next opening up as it moves along. It is something you can get rid of but it requires practice.

At our presentation skills training, we have had people go from 42 of these awkward pauses in 5 minutes of speaking down to only 2 in just a few hours. There is a way to get rid of them. It will require you to have a friend work with you on raising your brain’s awareness of when you use them and how you use them. Literally you are going to bring it from your unconscious mind to your conscious mind where you can make the change.

Here is the easy way to get rid of them:

  • Pick a silent signal someone will use to let you know that you just used an awkward transition word. Using a raised pencil or a finger on your cheek are good ones to use because you can do them in a meeting where the speaker can see them but no one else can.
  • When you see the signal just look down to the right and re-frame what you were saying.

You will find that if you do this about 8 times by the eighth time you will have virtually eliminated the awkward sounds from your speaking.

Test it out today and see how you do!

  • Make sure your posture and body language enhance your presentation

Your posture should convey confidence, poise, and credibility. In order to do this your shoulders should be slightly back, your weight should be evenly distributed between your feet, your legs should be no further apart than your shoulder width, and your hands should be either at your side, at your waist, or one hand at your waist one at your side.

Make sure your shoulders are not stiff and square, don’t turtle your head forward, don’t stare or blink excessively, and do not lean on the podium.

Record yourself presenting so you can see if your body language conveys poise and confidence by looking relaxed yet powerful.

  • Make it comfortable to ask questions

When a person continually stops you with questions when you are giving a presentation, you can end up losing your pacing and losing the rest of the group. In a large group situation, you want to make the questioner as comfortable as possible while you keep the pace for the rest of the group.

If you are working with a person one-on-one and you feel they have the brains to capture exactly what you’re saying, but for some reason they don’t understand you, stop and ask the person, “How can I explain this to make it easier for you to grasp?”

You may find that you are explaining it in too much detail, not enough detail, or that you are not tying all the different pieces together so it makes sense for this individual. You may also find that they just want more hands-on experience. Let the person talk and share with you how they learn and what you can do to teach them in their style instead of yours. If all else fails, you may want to see if there’s someone else that they could partner with.

  • Be clear on expectations so people take action

In order for others to clearly act on what you said they need to clearly understand the “why” of what they are doing. So be clear about WHY you are presenting and HOW you expect the listener to utilize what you share. Keep it simple and focused on the audience, not you.

For example, there is a big difference in what I will say if I am looking to have you grow sales with new accounts versus if I want you to grow existing accounts. The activities I emphasize to have you do will not be the same. I should also be clear on WHY I want you to grow the accounts as well as HOW to do it. Most likely I will invite you in to the HOW process so you own it rather than me.

Lack of clarity is one of the big reasons why people don’t take action on what you say. Remember the brain can easily focus on three things at one time. Once you get past that people have a tendency to take NO ACTION and stay status quo instead. So keep it simple, keep it focused, and keep it about them and not you.

  • Keep it fresh, not scripted

Have you ever gotten ready to do a big presentation and you script it all out? What happens that makes that NOT work?

When you script something out your brain literally “reads” it in your mind before you say it. So if you hit a wrong word your brain “freezes” on you and it can take a long while to get back on track.

For your audience scripting can make you seem flat because your voice may become more stagnate or you can seem unauthentic because you seem too “practiced.”

So what should you do instead?

I recommend that instead of scripting you do bullet points. Make sure any stories of analogies you will use you have the “key points” in bullet point so you can incorporate them all. Then allow your brain to freely tell the story and points as you need to in that moment with that audience.

This keeps you authentically involved with your current audience and your current material. It also keeps you from getting “brain fades” where your brain freezes because you switched words around or the order of what you say.

Now having said all that, I still recommend that you practice your first 10 minutes of your speech so you develop your own rhythm and flow. That will allow you to focus on the audience rather than on what you are going to say next.