Develop your presentation skills with these simple steps

Know your audience. Who are you meeting with or interviewing? Have you done a search on them? Do you know who set the agenda if it wasn’t you? It’s always best not to be surprised or blindsided at a meeting. The more you know about the people you meet, including their backgrounds, needs and how they define success, the more productive your discussions will be.

A warm smile and friendly conversation go a long way in building rapport and ultimately a solid relationship, which is the foundation for everything that follows. If you’re in a pinch, grab some coffee and an energy bar before you start.

Practice makes perfect. Whether you think of a meeting as a performance or not, it’s your job to both inform and entertain so your audience remembers your key points. Nobody’s perfect, but you should be comfortable enough with your material that it flows naturally and you’re not relying on notes during the meeting. Being able to have a direct conversation while making eye contact is your goal here, not reading from a script.

Have a clear outcome in mind

What do you want the audience to take away from your presentation? Remember it’s about them and how they feel. It could simply be you want them to feel comfortable with you to provide a particular service, or you’d like to convince them your product is the best on the market. You may want to motivate them to do something or inspire or challenge them to try something new.

Organise your speech into “chunks”

This is as opposed to trying to memorise or read a 30 minute speech…or a three hour one! If you have several chunks that deliver a particular message, it is easier for you and your audience to remember. As an example 30 minutes could be broken up as follows:

A five minute opener with a story;

Three chunks of seven minutes where you talk about three different points using some variety while delivering those messages.

Then a closer of four minutes perhaps to give out handouts or take a question or two then finish big with a call to action.

Emphasizing key points

If you want people to remember something – repeat it at least three times during your speech. The first time they might hear it. The second time they might mull it over. The third time it might stick

Finish Your Presentation Strong

End your presentation with a strong message. You can choose from several techniques. A call to action is one of the best endings to get your audience into action immediately after your speech. Other endings you can use include a rhetorical question; a positive statement; or a famous quotation. But never end with, “Well that’s all folks.” That is an extremely weak ending. Instead end on a positive action-generating note.

Follow up and follow through.

If you tell the people you meet you’ll get back to them on a particular issue, make sure you actually do it. Keeping promises goes a long way and reinforces the quality image and brand you want to project, Find a system that works for you to make sure you always close the loop in the end.

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