Top-Shelf Tip No. 080:

"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops, until you stand up to speak in public."

George Jessel

Presentation Skills Challenges

The biggest challenge for a newer sales team might be how they actually feel when they give their presentations. Many first-time speakers want to feel confident, want to engage their audience and want to feel good about actually giving a presentation. But how is this achieved?

In a survey taken by more than 50 business sales professionals during a presentation skills training workshop, key questions and concerns on how to become a confident public speaker were highlighted. Today and tomorrow, Promotional Consultant Today shares these concerns.

1. Does the audience really listen or do they just read the PowerPoint slides?  It is a good practice to keep your PowerPoint presentation under one hour, and try to only use the slides to enhance your speech. The less information you place on the slide the better—two to three bullet points work best. Don’t read the slides but keep the slides simple. If you are distributing copies to the audience, use a white background. Ask the audience for questions as you go along so they feel engaged.

2. How many head and hand movements are too many?  Since more than half of all human communication takes place nonverbally, audiences judge us based on what they hear and what they see. It’s important to have control over your body language. Movement has to be supportive of the message. Your head, eyes and facial expressions usually convey your true feelings so it’s important to communicate with sincerity to connect with your audience. Your hands can be used to express emotion and to emphasize a point. Don’t keep your hands in your pockets or behind your back.

3. How do I gain confidence and keep people entertained?  It is important to talk about a subject you enjoy and that you know really well so that you can improvise and keep it light. By being yourself and telling a personal story or using appropriate humor, the audience will relate to you more easily. Confidence comes with practice and your ability to give your speech with your own personal touch.

4. How do I prevent my face from getting red right before the speech?  Visualize yourself giving a successful speech. Remain excited to share your information with your audience. Remember that the audience is interested in what you have to say and that they are your friends. Be sure to take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth before walking up to the microphone.

5. How do I handle client questions/interruptions?  In order to control an audience and prevent them from interrupting your speech, it’s best to begin your speech by stating a simple outline such as how long the speech will take, and give a reminder to please turn off all cell phones. Make it very clear as to if and when you would like to hold a question-and-answer session and then begin your speech.

Read PCT tomorrow for more top presentation tips.

Source: Scott Topper, three-time Emmy-nominated TV show host and corporate improv skills coach, helps organizations and individuals learn business improvisational skills and theatrical techniques to achieve better sales presentation results and gain confidence through his fun and interactive corporate presentation skills workshops. Topper offers a monthly coaching mentoring newsletter and has authored more than 30 public speaking books, audio books, workbooks, DVD’s and downloadable confident speaking courses.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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