Presentations – What Audiences Want And What They Definitely Do Not Want

In today’s business world of ‘quality circles’ and ‘managing for excellence’, the most successful individuals are often accomplished presenters. That’s because a successful presenter is more than just a fact dispenser – he or she really knows how to communicate with their audience, someone to whom people listen. The effective speaker in business, just as in the political arena, is the one who can make people hear the facts and believe the message.

Unfortunately, public speaking is not something that comes naturally to most of us. Without prior training in the basics of timing, body language, humour, organisation and all the other skills that go into the act of public speaking, even the smartest, liveliest and most articulate individual can wither in the glare of “the spotlight”.

What Do Audiences Want?

o To feel you ‘know your stuff’

o That you look the part

o That you respect them and acknowledge their situation and views

o To find what you say links with what they want from you

o To have sufficient information to make a considered judgement about what you say (they will ‘weigh it up’)

o To be clear about any action necessary – at the end

And above all to find it understandable, interesting and a good fit with the audience and the occasion.

And In Summary: What They Most Definitely Do Not Want?

o To be confused

o To be blinded with science / technicalities or jargon

o ‘Lost’ in the structure (or lack of it)

o To be talked down to

o To be made to struggle to understand inappropriate language

o To be made to make an enormous jump to relate what is said to their circumstances

And they do not want to listen to someone whose lack of preparation makes it clear they have no respect for the audience. As with most things in life, preparation and planning is everything.

It is important to remember that as the presenter or speaker, we are there for our audience, they are not there for us – we must earn the right by proving our credibility, to be standing in front of them.

Copyright © 2006 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

How To Present Your Awesome Company

You need to work on client projects. You have a business to run. You have urgent issues to deal with. How can you find time to present your company to clients and prospects?

“I don’t have time to present my company.” I understand. I’ve heard this from many consultants, coaches and professional service providers. You’ve got better things to do. You can’t spend time building your presentation skills-and talking about your business.

Think again. The truth of the matter is that while you’re not presenting your company to clients and prospects… your competition is.

But, no worries. You don’t have to go back to school, hire an expensive consultant or struggle with researching best practices. Just use these 5 tips to get started presenting your awesome company.

Tip 1. Know Your Why
As in many efforts, you have to have a big, clear ‘why.’ Identify why presenting is important to you. Will it help you grow your client base? Expand into new territory? Increase sales? Do more of what you love doing?

Define your reasons. Build a solid foundation so you can move on to the core tips for presenting with impact. But don’t skip this step. Otherwise you’ll move ahead without a clear sense of certainty.

Tip 2. Match Your Audience
Different audiences respond to different presentations. It comes down to having a human-to-human conversation with your clients and prospects. To do this effectively, you have to understand what people want and need.

With summer behind us, now is a good time to think about what your audience is really looking for. Are they hungry to get results in the final quarter of the year? Are they ready to sink their teeth into a project that they were on the fence about?

Think about seasonal variations of interest and energy. Match your message to your audience-and the time of year.

Tip 3. Simplify While They Watch
Last week we provided graphic facilitation for an 80-person, 2-day conference. The attendees were used to seeing PowerPoints. They’d never experienced watching a visual artist capture key ideas in colorful wall charts. They loved it!

If you’re hosting a conference or client event, plan charts, diagrams and posters. Organize your message for visual simplicity. Several tips will guarantee success:

• Draw a sketch at the whiteboard. This is engaging and extremely powerful-especially if clients are used to slide presentations.

• Work with a visual expert to plan your sketch. You’d be surprised how little you need to draw to be effective.

• Practice drawing in advance. Gain confidence so that you can do it while your audience watches.

Tip 4. Solve Real World Problems
The fastest way to ‘spell things out’ is to collaborate and solve problems. Work with your clients to solve their real-world issues. Pick one that is very important to them and show how what your company offers will make the difference.

Yes, this is challenging. However, it is extremely memorable and ultimately convincing. When you take on a real problem and succeed, you’ll win their trust. Isn’t that more than worth the effort?

Tip 5. Leverage
Funny enough, many professionals and business owners forget this tip. Really it’s a question of hours in the day. The main goal here is expand the positive impact of what you’re doing.

If you’ve solved a problem for one client…who else wants to know about it? Other prospects. Other clients. People you know across different industries.

If you’ve presented your visual message and won rave reviews, who else is interested? Other clients. Other prospects. Other people you know in your network.

The fastest way to ignite the Leverage tip is to ask this question: “Who else wants to know about this?”

You’ve got an awesome company. Now use these 5 tips to kick things up a notch and attract more people to work with you.

Never Shortcut the Presentation

People Reject What They Don’t Understand

Many sales are lost, not because the product or service didn’t fit the customer’s needs nor as a result of an inferior product line- and regardless of what they say, not because the customer couldn’t “afford it” or “needed to think about it”- but because the salesperson lost the customer somewhere along the way. They confused them. And, when a customer is confused, they will not buy, because people reject what they don’t understand!
 
Customers are providing you with a clear indication that your message lacked clarity when you hear something like this: “Well, you really did a great job and you’ve given us a lot to think about. We’ll talk it over and get back to you”. After all, what are they suppose to say to you? They probably won’t be so candid as to say, “You know, we were actually ready to make this decision right now, but frankly, you confused us when you were talking about that drop-interest financing option. We’re going to need some time to see if we can figure out what you were saying before we make a mistake that could cost us money.” 
 
To the uninformed, the “we need to think (or talk) about it” response is an “objection”, so they leap into the objection handling mode and hope that that last seminar on closing they attended was worth the money. It seldom dawns on them that it may be something else- that they may have simply confused the customer or failed to make a compelling argument for buying their products or services.
 
If something is missing, or seems vague, customers simply will not buy. This is one really good reason why you should never shortcut the presentation. Clarity is important. Customers need to hear the full story in order to make a truly informed decision. If you shortcut the presentation, skipping over points that later you find out may have been important to your customer, it will be tough as nails, if not impossible, to effectively rewind the presentation and straighten out any confusion you may have caused in your effort to speed things along earlier. Basically, the customer awards you a single opportunity to get it right. You don’t want to waste it by attempting shortcuts. 
 
Salespeople often have a tendency to want to speed through the presentation to get to the more exhilarating part, the close. Rushing through the delivery (essentially shortcutting the presentation) is a dangerous practice that risks confusing the customer; which in turn leads to substantially lower closing percentages, lower sales averages, and higher cancellation percentages. 
 
The solution is to s-l-o-w-d-o-w-n! Always keep in mind that no matter how many times you’ve given the presentation, it is the customer’s first time hearing it. Make sure that your message is clear and your customers will have less to “think about” at the end of your presentation!