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Author Biography:

Geoffrey Michael  is a freelance writer specializing in business, marketing, personal finance, law, science, aviation, sports, travel, and political analysis. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and is also licensed to practice law in California and New Hampshire. He has 40 years’ experience in the successful management and execution of high-technology programs and also cofounded an aviation consulting firm. You can contact him at www.geoffreymichael.pro



Presenting for Success
By Geoffrey Michael Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Everyone has a presentation style that’s unique and there’s no reason to change what’s working for you. If you think your presentation style and methods could use some enhancement, here are a few tips to consider.

There are times when most business owners will have to make a presentation to an audience, large or small. It might be to a bank loan officer to get much-needed financing. It might be to a supplier to entice it to supply you with raw materials. It might be to a prospective buyer who’s thinking about placing a big order for your products.



Venue

Choose a presentation venue that fits your exact needs, and make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need. When possible, do it on your turf because home field advantage applies to business, not just sports. It gives you
the upper hand, both psychologically and from a practical standpoint. If follow-up is needed after the conclusion of the presentation, you’ve got everything you need right there.
 

Know Your Audience

Tailor what you say to the specific person or group you’ll be addressing. The more you know about them, the better suited you’ll be to address their requirements and answer their questions. Customization not only saves time, but will impress your audience. It shows you’ve taken the time to focus on their unique needs and objectives, rather than giving them a generic pitch that could apply to anyone.

Probe your audience beforehand with a phone call or two and nail down their goals and expectations. If you’re going after a loan, make sure you understand everything that’s needed to satisfy the approval process and the particular loan officer handling your application. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll succeed.

Frame Your Story

Don't dive into the details of a presentation without first explaining the big picture and bottom line. This isn't a suspense movie where you can't spoil the ending. The audience wants to know why they're there and where you're headed.

If you're taking sides on an issue, provide a brief overview of why you've adopted the position you're advocating. This will make it much easier for your audience to appreciate and assimilate everything you're about to say. Conceptualization and vsiualization are both important contributors to effective transmission of overall message.

Structure Development

If you can't easily outline what you're going to say, take a step back and rethink how you've framed the presentation. There should be a logical sequence of important points that can be connected like dots. When you're done, you want a clear picture firmly implanted in the mind of the listener of what you're advocating and your conclusions.

To the end, limit the number of major points to just a few that are easily explained in the time allotted. Use subpoints to further develop the concepts envisioned by the major points. If you have too many points, you'll eventually lose your audience. They won't be able to grasp and comprhend the entire message at one sitting. If you can adapt your presentation to storytelling, that's an effective way of fully engaging your audience. A good story will capture and hold their attention, especially if it's unlike any story they've heard before. Create a strong rapport and yu've got them hooked.

Optimize Information Mix

There's nothing worse than attending a briefing and being bombarded with charts, graphs, columns of numbers, and hundreds of words on each slide. You'll lose youbr audience quickly if you overwhelm them with information overload. It's important to devise the right mix of visuals, data, and narrative. This will depend on the subject matter and the specific audience, so use your best judgement to gauge the ingredients you need to include. The cardinal rule is to keep it simple and as straightforward as possible.

Use PowerPoint as a roadmap, not as a crutch. If you're standing there reading the slides, why are you needed?  You might as well hand copies to the audience and let them read them on their own time. Kepp the amount of data on the slides to an absolute minimum, and talk to the slides rather than read from them. Use the slides to focus attention on a specific point, and guide you an the audience to the next point. Keep the word count down to what they can read and digest very quickly.

Rehearse

Depending on yur experience level, you might find it useful to do a dry run of your presentation. If you can't find anyone to listen, do it to a pretend audience. It will force you to organize your thought process and make your introduction crisp. Getting started is usually the most difficult part, so be prepared to nail the first few minutes. Once you get going, the transitions will flow more naturally and your knowledge of the subject matter will emerge more smoothly. Don't overdo preparation to the point of sounding robotic. The goal is to sound like an expert while coming across as someoneeveryome in the room can easily relate to.

Delivery

You've got an important message for your audience, and how you transmit that mesage makes all the difference. Show your personality and imagine you're taking the audience along on a journey, You're their guide, and you plan to make a few critical stops along the way to hammer home important points. By the end of the journey, your audience needs to appreciate the passion you've invested in the subject.

Use real-world examples to illustrate points that may be difficult to explain in theory. Be straightforward and make direct eye contact throughout the presentation. That sends a powerful message that you're serious and fully committed. A conversational tone usually works best, and it helps if you can interact with the audience and get them connected to your objectives. Talk to them , not at them. and let them draw their own conclusions.

Bottom Line

Quality is everything. Whether you're talkinf to one person or a large group, It's all about substnace, conviction and a compelling narrative. Don't forget that some well-paced humor always helps because it keeps the audience alert, and provides a momentary diversion from the primary subject.

You've listened to enough people to know what does and doesn't work when you're on the receiving end. Apply that knowledge and experience to how you approach your own audience. Differentiate yourslef in a way that makes you more interesting and memorable. Branding is far more than just a time-honored marketing technique. Sell yourself and your products won't be far behind.


 
 
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