If you start by getting a bad case of the jitters, welcome to the human race. The prospect of speaking before a crowd, let alone before one whose collective decisions may mean a heftier bankbook for your company or a run on your bank account, is often daunting.
[related|post]Relax. Though corporate presentations can be hard on your nerves, they’re a skill you can learn with enough practice and hard work. Herewith, some tips you can use to ace that next look-see before Goliath Corporation:
1. Research! Start by doing your homework. Find out about your target company’s background, the products or services it provides, its supply requirements – any data that may be of use to you in designing your presentation. “It’s important to fine-tune your materials to the type of audience you will have,” says Vincent Concio, sales and marketing manager for Sugarland Beverage Corporation. ”Finance people would always like to see numbers, while marketing folks would want creative ideas.”
2. Find a good schedule. If you’re asked to set the time, choose the most convenient time for your audience. Concio says it is best not to set a meeting right after lunch or just before closing hours, but sometimes in between, say 3:00 pm.
3. Keep it concise. “An average presentation should take 15 to 20 minutes with Q&A afterwards,” says Concio. ”Don’t keep it long, as corporate people are really busy.” Adds Jiro Marquez, president of Astivisions, Inc., a production and digital editing outfit: “Corporate people will not stay and listen to you for three hours, so you might as well give them the gist up front. The shorter and more concise, the better.”
4. Prepare excellent visual aids. Microsoft Powerpoint is a great tool for presenting your ideas to an audience. You can also use colorful transparencies can help enhance your professional image,” Concio notes. However, don’t go overboard with colors and fancy graphics. Keep your visuals pleasing to the eye, and your pages uncluttered. And to save time, give out handouts of your materials before the presentation.
What about video? Marquez says that video presentations provide definite edge to presenters. “A video presentation gives the impression that a company has the budget to produce one, which can amount to P30,000 at least. “ This can show big companies that your company has the financial clout to do business with them.
However, producing just about any video of your product or service will not guarantee good results. “Every presentation has to have an X-factor,” says Marquez. “You have to be different in order to be noticed, because big corporation are so used to viewing presentations made by smaller companies. Your video has to have some kind of recall.
5. Fix yourself up. This means projecting a good image by dressing appropriately and grooming yourself properly. According to Gloria Starr of Success Strategies (www.gloriastarr.com), “55 percent of someone’s impression of you based on what they see, 38 percent on body language, eye contact, and posture, and only 7 percent on the spoken word.” In other words, you should consider how you look, not just what you say. “People can create a winning image by taking the time to learn to present themselves effectively,” says Starr. Among others, she suggests the First Impressions rule: “Use direct eye contact, smile, introduce yourself, and shake hands.” Another advice: Don’t wear dark colors, as “darker colors have more power and authority.” This might intimidate your clients and turn them off.
6. Establish a flow. Have a program set in your head. Concio suggests the following effective components that you can include in your presentation: a) a situationer on why the product/service is needed; b) a profile of the idea, product or service being offered; c) the benefits the company will derive from the product; d) other side benefits; e) terms of agreement. Marquez, on the other hand, recommends that to be able to remember everything on your agenda, “use small index cards as a guide.”
Still, look at this way: If you’re to choose between two people speaking, one holding a guide and the other holding nothing, who would you pick? The presenter with his hands free of guide materials would appear to know what he’s saying by heart.
If you’re presenting as a group, practice and find out what your colleagues are going to say, so that you won’t contradict each other. It’s also indecorous to whisper to each other in front of your audience.
7. Monitor your body language. Monitor your body language, as it can send wrong idea to your client. “We convey power, authority, and presence using our body posturing. Direct eye contact, for instance, reflects trustworthiness and confidence,” says Starr. Good presenters maintain eye contact 90 percent of the time. Other non-verbal cues to consider: Make the tone and pitch of your voice pleasant to the ear. Nod your head – “it’s the most powerful gesture of affirmation,” says Starr. And lean toward someone to indicate genuine interest.
Marquez adds that you should act as accommodating as possible, ready to answer every question thrown your way by your audience. More importantly, “when they talk, don’t talk. Don’t butt in because they may be giving you valuable information.”
8.Talk with conviction. It’s important that you know what you’re talking about, and you can talk about it well. Avoid stuttering, rambling on, or filling dead spaces with ‘ah’s’. The best way to be fluent in your presentation is to practice until you’ve nailed everything – pitch, tone, flow, facts, emphasis – right.
9. Pay attention to detail. Say two tabletop brands have the exact same quality and manufacturer. But one brand has something else: warranty. Chances are that brand will be chosen over the other one. Corporations, says Marquez, look into these itsy-bitsy details because with so many people presenting their services, everything will boil down to basic apple-to-apple comparisons.
10. Remember names. Concio says he is almost always impressed when presenters call the people in the audience by name, as it makes the meeting become more casual and comfortable. It also eases tension during Q&A. remembering the names of your clients helps create a personal relationship. “When done effectively, friendships [that] are established with your clients and associates cements the business relationship,” says Starr.
Aside from acknowledging the names of those present during your meeting, make it a point to remember their names afterwards, whether your business with them pushes through or not. You might cross paths again.
11. Say thanks. Last but definitely not the least, thank your audience for their time. “A small note or an e-mail to thank everyone and to summarize the agreement in the group will provide a personal touch and, at the same time, document the discussion,” Concio says. As in any relationship, basic courtesy remains a key to moving things along.