There are two types of people in this world – those who can deliver amazing presentations without even trying, and those who get stressed out at the simple notion of a group presentation. If you are like me (and most people), you fall in to the second category.
Have a one-on-one sales opportunity with the client? No problem!
Have to deliver a group presentation to potential clients, or to a group of your peers/superiors? Problem.
There is no getting around it in the world of sales and business. Public speaking is something that you are just going to have to do. Not to add to the stress or anything, but you can’t deliver a mediocre or a good presentation – it has to be excellent. You have to engross the audience and have them all buy in to what you are saying. In short, your presentation has to be on-point.
Why is it so difficult to deliver a great group presentation that is effective? Well, mostly, it’s a manner of public speaking anxiety. But, at the higher levels, it’s easier to have a conversation one-on-one with a client because it’s just that – a conversation. You feed off of each other and can base your pitch off of what they tell you.
Group presentations are more tricky, because a lot of people structure it as a lecture and not as a conversation. Essentially, you have to discover the need of the client and personalize the pitch for them, without having a real conversation. It’s difficult!
As mentioned above, it’s something that we, as salespeople, have to master to be effective at our craft. Therefore, we typed up a list of tips and tricks to deliver an excellent group presentation.
Note: This can be applied outside of sales too. Basically, anyone who has to deliver a group presentation (such as students) can benefit from this. I did my undergraduate work at Purdue University, and we had to deliver group presentations all the time.
Know that it’s ok to have public speaking anxiety
A lot of people are embarrassed or even ashamed that they are nervous about speaking in public. Just know this: if you are scared to speak in public, you are not alone. I have met some of our regional top performers who are terrified to speak in public. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, and you are certainly not alone. At the deepest level, everyone is somewhat anxious to speak in front of people, even the smoothest of talkers.
However, what separates the good from the great is the willingness to learn. If you are here and reading this, you are willing to improve and get better, which is a huge step and is very important.
Prepare your speech, and Practice, Practice, Practice
Write your presentation ahead of time. DO NOT WING IT. An excellent presentation must be well structured. Every sentence and point must be made at the correct timing, much like a one-on-one presentation, which you would obviously never wing. If you do wing it, it’s extremely obvious to the audience that you do not have an agenda and they will become disinterested.
Writing it ahead of time is not enough. You have to practice and rehearse it. This will help eliminate those pesky “umm” and “aaah” fillers. If you practice it out loud enough times, it will almost become muscle memory. You’ll be able to recall it in your head with no problems and the whole thing will go a lot more smooth. Practice it in front of your spouse, your co-workers, or even by yourself in the car.
Tell the Audience what they will get out of your Presentation
Do this right away. Nothing is worse than being halfway through the presentation and realizing that the audience is confused as to why you are there or what you are trying to accomplish. Laying out the agenda might seem like a small detail, but it will help the audience connect the dots and will actually keep them involved because they know what to expect.
Tell the audience why they will benefit from this presentation. Tell them right away that your presentation is going to fundamentally change the way they think about your company or that they might have to reevaluate their current product after you are done. This will draw them in right away. “Mr. Smith, this product will secure your place as the industry leader. This is it.”
Use Multiple forms of Media
Humans all learn differently. If you are delivering your presentation in just a powerpoint format, some people might tune out. On top of that, if you just use a single form of media, the presentation will become stale and boring. There will be nothing to keep their attention.
Try mixing in some audio (such as YouTube videos), or try passing out real physical examples to everyone. This will keep their attention.
Don’t make it a lecture – make it a two-way presentation
As mentioned above, people struggle with this because they make it a lecture. They stand in front of people and talk for 10 minutes without ever stopping to give the audience a chance to respond or think. A good way to make it a “two way” presentation is to involve the audience as much as possible without making it weird.
A simple “does everyone follow me?” interjected at key points is a great way to do this. Another fantastic way is to simply call on someone from the audience and ask them a simple question as if it were a one-on-one pitch. If you are going to call on someone, make sure the question is not difficult to answer, because embarrassing a client or a co-worker is a great way to have them tune out for the rest of your presentation.
A hidden benefit here is that if you are able to get the audience involved, your stress and anxiety will immediately go down. Trust me.
Don’t go up there and do a Dane Cook comedy act. There is a fine line between light humor and not taking this seriously. However, using humor is a great way to relax the audience and get them drawn in. A recent example of one that I used was during a presentation about different closing techniques. I was talking about the Fear of Missing Out element. The acronym for that is F.O.M.O., so I called it the “Tony F.O.M.O.” method. I said that they “should put Tony F.O.M.O out as much as possible…just make sure he doesn’t get hurt”, in reference to Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo.
Simple and probably silly joke, but the audience laughed and someone even shouted out “Or pick them for your Fantasy team!” Again, amazing way to calm the nerves.
Use Real World Stories they can Relate to
Nothing is worse than giving a presentation and the audience feels disengaged because it was not “real” to them. A great way to get the audience to buy in is to tell stories that they can relate to. “My customer once told me that he wished that our prices would better match our quality…” or “I’m sure you all know the feeling, but this one time, I had this happen to me…”.
These are great ways to get the audience to realize that it’s not an abstract principle or product, but rather, something that is real and has been applied in similar situations with great benefit.
Use Power Statements
Make it sizzle. Power statements are statements that reel in the audience because they have a lot of fun and colorful words. It’s hard to describe what a power statement is, so instead of describing it, just go ahead and watch this video. It’s full of them:
Give them Takeaway Points
Here is the reality. People forget everything that was told to them 10 minutes afterwards. You can give the best presentation of your life, but I bet half the people will entirely forget about it by the time the day is over. That’s why it’s important to include takeaway points.
The best way to do this is to pass out a physical piece of paper with the key points that you wanted to communicate in an easy-to-understand and simple format. I usually do a bullet list with all my key points. I’ll also include my name and number if anyone has follow up questions.
If all else Fails, Remember your Why
It takes courage to do this job. We have to get in front of people and get them to buy something that they probably would not have bought on their own accord. It takes even more courage to stand up in front of everyone and deliver a speech. To summon that courage, remember your why.
I’m not talking about why you sell XYZ product. You do that to keep your job. I’m talking about why you get up and come in to work everyday. Your why needs to be personal – providing a great life for your children, taking care of your family, whatever it is…if you remember your personal why, you’ll have the courage to get up there and deliver the speech.
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