Wouldn’t it be great if you could leave a presentation knowing you nailed it? You want your clients to feel informed and motivated, but you also want them to be very impressed and maybe even a little bit jealous of your presentation skills.
In order to succeed in business, you must be able to create compelling presentations. Presentations give you a chance to show your clients why they should work with you and can be decisive in whether or not they’ll accept your offer. They may feel like a chore, but they give you the means to connect with your clients and build trust.
Your clients will want natural, cohesive presentations that are backed by well-designed slides. What they don’t want are data-crammed slides presented by dull speakers.
You must not only deliver quality content but also present it in a way that will not tire your audience. Here are our tips for making your presentations more engaging.
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Find out what your clients want
Before you start working on your presentation, ask your clients what they would like you to include in it. There are usually some aspects they will be particularly concerned about, and they will appreciate you for asking for their input. If you don’t ask and try to guess, you might get lucky, but you might also create a presentation that lacks focus and doesn’t deliver the information your clients are most interested in.
For example, if one of your clients is mostly interested in expanding their business into other channels right now, your focus should be on growth, including new channels to explore, the resources they will need to expand into those new channels, their odds of succeeding and how performance should be evaluated.
By asking for their input, you’ll be able to tailor your presentation to their needs instead of going through many ideas hoping that at least a few of them will spark their interest.
Even if you’re an exceptionally charismatic person, it’s not a good idea to go to a presentation unprepared. You’ll first want to learn more about the people you’ll be giving your presentation to. Luckily, these days you can find this information with only a few clicks.
Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter will be very useful. You can simply copy-paste all the relevant information into a document and then organize it, focusing on aspects you might want to use in your pitch.
Of course, you can also use the internet to find other tools that will allow you to add statistics to back up your arguments, split PDF pages and use graphics to better illustrate your ideas.
When it comes to your slides, keep in mind that their purpose is to showcase the most important points in your presentation. Don’t stuff too much information in them and don’t read from them. It bores the audience and makes a bad impression. If you’re worried you might forget some of the things you’re supposed to say, you can use your notes.
At the end of the presentation, you’ll need to be ready for any questions your clients might have. Try to imagine a few scenarios and rehearse so you can answer promptly and with confidence.
Lastly, remember that your clients are not necessarily interested in your products or services per se. They’re interested in what they stand to gain from them. That’s what you should focus on in your research, presentation, and answers.
Use body language
One of the most common fears people have is public speaking, and presentations are a sort of public speaking. It’s normal to get a little bit nervous.
To keep your anxiety from taking over, imagine you’re just having a conversation and focus on the points your feel most confident about, rather than how you might be perceived. This will make your body language come across as much more natural.
Remember that your clients are people just like you. And just like you, their goal is to find a mutually beneficial agreement. That’s why they took the time to meet with you.
It also wouldn’t hurt to practice the presentation a few times beforehand. You can record yourself with your laptop or phone, so you can spot behaviours that might make your presentation less engaging.
For instance, when people get nervous, they tend to use more filler word like “you know?”, “um” and “like.” This is mostly because they’re afraid of silent pauses. But there’s nothing wrong with silence—quite the opposite. You can take a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts, and this will also give your audience the time to consider your arguments which means they’ll be engaging with the information you’re sharing. They’ll be more attentive and remember more of what you said.
When people get nervous, they also tend to pace around the room or root themselves in one place. Practice moving around the room naturally. This will allow you to command the room while you’re talking. You want the focus to be on you and not on the screen that displays your slides.
Encourage your clients to speak
After spending all that time researching, creating your slides and your notes, and practicing your delivery, you’ll have a plan of what you want to say, and you’ll want to make sure you’ve covered every point because you want to impress. After all, that’s why you’re reading this article.
But another reason why silent pauses are good is that they give your clients a chance to ask questions and give feedback. That’s what you want them to do – to engage.
Some clients will speak out even if it means they have to interrupt you, so you don’t have to worry about making breaks and encouraging them. However, you’ll also have more introverted clients that won’t speak unless they have some sort of clear cue that it’s okay.
If you noticed this happening, start taking breaks every couple of slides and ask them questions like “What are your thoughts on the data?” and “Do you have any questions for me?”
As we mentioned before, you want them to engage with the information so they stay focused. This will also give you a chance to address some of their concerns, making it more likely to get the outcome you were hoping for.