January 5, 2010

Imagine how you would like your audience to think differently about your subject matter after you have finished.

People won’t change unless they feel positive. You need to make them feel comfortable with the change, and see it in a positive light

Connect with your audience, instead of think of your audience as a bunch of people you don’t know, think of them as a group of people that you really care about, people who you really want to feel good, think of them as people who want to enjoy your presentation, the more they enjoy it the more they will listen and the more they will remember.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever



January 5, 2010

In a product or sales presentation, I would never mention competitors by name.  Even if asked who I thought were our main competitors, I would strongly resist naming them.  This is because by naming them as competitors you are giving them a very positive endorsement that they are a company worth considering as an alternative to your own.

Even if you have a couple of very well known competitors, individual prospects may not be aware of them or may not have considered purchasing from them.  Giving their name in a presentation, may make your prospect rethink that decision.

In answer to the question, ‘Who are your main competitors?’  I would normally answer slightly tongue in cheek with ‘That’s a very interesting question.  While there are many companies who claim to offer competitive products to our own, we do not actually believe that we have any direct competitors who can …..  restating the benefits of your products / services.  ‘

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


January 5, 2010

What looks good on the screen may not work so well when it is projected.  Even today, most projectors lose some of their colour density when they are projected.  This makes the screen look washed out.  Pale colours are very susceptible to this effect.

The most readable colours are yellow writing on a dark blue background or black writing on a yellow background.  If you use a plain background, the text will be more readable but the slides look less interesting.

Be careful with using images as a background, it is very difficult to choose a text colour that will always show up.  If you want to use images as backgrounds, to reflect for instance the different industries your customers are in, I suggest making them very pale, more like a watermark so that the black text will show up against the whole background.

In PowerPoint or similar software, it can help to use a shadow font, which will provide more contrast between the text and the background.


January 5, 2010

Confidence is inextricably linked with conviction.

To boost general confidence there are a myriad of different techniques, which you can use.  One is the ‘I like me because….’ method.  For one minute every morning, stand in front of the mirror and say ‘I like me because …’ and follow it by as many different reasons why you like yourself.  ‘I like me because I am blonde’, ‘I like me because I am good at my job’, ‘I like me because I’m a good Dad’, ‘I like me because I’m not too overweight’, ‘I like me because I have given up smoking’, ‘I like me because I can drive’.  If you cannot think of anything else just make things up but keep going, saying as many things as you can in the minute.  If you do this every morning, you will get better at it and it will improve your own self-confidence.

Another technique to use before a presentation is to say aloud the following statements before anyone arrives in the room:

‘I am poised, prepared, persuasive, positive and powerful.’

‘I feel composed, confident convincing, commanding and compelling.’

Write these two phrases on your first Cue Card.

Confidence is all a matter of self-belief.  You need to believe in yourself and you will be more confident, and come across as confident.  Do not over do it though.  Do not talk down to your audience they will never forgive you!

Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior unless you agree with it’.


January 5, 2010

‘It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.’  Anon

To make people to believe in you, you have to belief in yourself first.  You need to talk as if you mean it. 

Leave out all those phrases like ‘I think….’ and ‘Perhaps …’ be more definite. Instead of saying, ‘I think, if we worked together we could probably achieve our goal’ say, ‘Together, we can achieve our goal’, ‘In fact, we can exceed it!’

When it comes down to it, if you do not believe it yourself, you will never get others to believe it.

There are three aspects to a presentation the verbal, the vocal and the visual, i.e. the words we use, the way we say them and what we do while we say them.

When we say words with out really believing what we say, our tone of voice and our body language will give the game away. Everyone will be able to tell that we don’t really mean it. So my advice is to only give presentations on subjects about which you are confident.

If you are ever forced in to giving a presentation on a topic which you are not sure about, find one aspect of that topic you are confident of and give the presentation from that perspective.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever

Creative Visualisation

January 5, 2010

Creative Visualisation is a technique that you can use to instil confidence in yourself, to calm the nerves prior to a presentation and to help ensure your presentation is a success.  It is a technique that first surfaced in sports.  Before a high dive champion jumps off the top board, he or she may use Creative Visualisation to imagine the perfect dive.

Springing off the board, curling in to the first roll, arms in tight, knees up against the chest.  Then extending out, fingers stretched, toes pointing at the ceiling and back perfectly straight.  This is followed by the entry into the water, fingers first followed by the arms, head, torso, legs then feet and toes, without a splash.  Finally, surfacing to rapturous applause and a perfect score from the judges.

By visualising this perfect performance, it helps to convince you that you can do it; it helps to make you think about all the various steps, clarifying in your mind exactly what you have to do to make it perfect.

You can do the same with your presentation; imagine standing on the stage, not fidgeting, talking loud and clear, the audience are hanging on your every word, smiling back at you and when you finish, them rising to give you a standing ovation.

Creative visualisation is just one of the ways of overcoming the fear and nervousness of public speaking.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever

Call to Action

January 5, 2010

Giving a business presentation is different from giving a best man’s speech or running a training course. The primary objective of a best man’s speech  is to entertain, the objective of a training course is to educate, but invariably the purpose of a business presentation is to influence or persuade your audience into a particular course of action.

Think about why you are presenting, what would you like people to do as a result of your presentation?  It may be that you want them to buy your products or services then and there, or maybe you have slightly more modest ambitions to move them on to the next step in the sales cycle. Maybe you want them to change the way they think about something.

See “O for Objective” for more information about how to develop your presentation objective.

Having given an excellent, informative, entertaining and persuasive presentation, do not end it without a call to action.

When you just leave people to go away and think about it, and no matter how fired up they are by your presentation, they will go off back to their normal world.  Back to where other pressures are placed on them, where interruptions are rife, back to what they are used to.  Even with the best will in the world, they will be distracted and may not follow through.  So you need to set them a challenge, a call to action that will move them further forward in the direction of your goal.  You need to get them to buy in to your proposition.

Ending a business presentation without a call to action  is essentially a massive waste of time.  You have wasted your time and their time, because without the call to action the chance of someone taking action off their own initiative is very low.

Presentations are not one off events; they should be part of an integrated plan to achieve your goals.  The call to action coming at the end of a presentation tells the audience what they should do next.  Without it, you are giving control over the process back to your audience, which means you no longer have control.  Control that you have invested a great deal of time and effort in, by creating and giving the presentation.

The call to action is essentially the whole reason for giving a business presentation. All the rest of the presentation is merley a pre-amble to prepare your audience for taking the step you prescribe in your call to action.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever

Cue Cards

January 5, 2010

Cue Cards or confidence cards as they are sometimes known, are 5’ x 3’ postcards or index cards, which contain pointers to remind you what you are talking about.  Most novices will use some sort of cue cards but as they gain in experience, they think they are too experienced to be using cue cards.  Believing that by using cue cards, they are showing themselves up as not knowing what they are talking about.

Nothing could be further from the truth, using cue cards shows that you care.  There is nothing wrong with wanting a reminder of the main points of your presentation or ensuring that you get the facts and figures right.

Cue cards should be created once you are happy with the structure and content of your talk. As an alternative to using cue cards, Microsoft PowerPoint provides a presenter’s view facility using multiple monitors.  The cue card information can be displayed on the presenter’s monitor.

Do not try to write out the presentation verbatim on small cards, it will not work for a variety of reasons:

  • Firstly, we don’t usually write how we talk.
  • Secondly, if you write small enough to get it on you will not be able to read it.
  • Thirdly, it is very easy to lose your place in narrative text, especially if you have stopped following the text and then need a reminder of what to say next.

What you should put on the card is:

  • The opening statement for this part of the talk (an English phrase not a bullet point)
  • The main bullet points (max 5)
  • Any facts, figures or quotations to ensure that you get them right
  • What is coming next
  • The card number
  • Write on one side only!

By putting the opening statement on the card it will get you over the mental block of ‘what am I going to say’ which most often hits at the start of a topic or speech.

Usually, if you have practised your presentation enough, once you say the opening phrase the rest will follow.

The bullet points should just be keywords to remind you what to say.  Ideally, this should be 3 and preferably no more than 5 bullet points on one card.

You can also put on the card any key facts, names, figures or quotations that you want to ensure you get right.  If you have too much information to write on a single card, do not be tempted to write on the back, use an extra card.

At the bottom right of the card, write a clue to what is coming next.  This will help you to provide a smooth transition between cards.  This is especially important if you have one cue card for each slide in a presentation.

One of the most common faults in presentations where people use PowerPoint slides or similar is that they use the PowerPoint slide as their cue cards.  This has two serious disadvantages: The PowerPoint slides are often just the textual bullet points, they are not visual aids in the true meaning of the phrase, i.e. they are not very visually appealing and as such, they do not fulfil their role. 

Secondly, people then tend to split their talk into slide size sections.  The effect of this is that they talk to each slide.  When a new slide comes up, they turn to look at the screen, ignoring the audience, pause while they read it and then start talking again.  There is the added tendency to end up repeating exactly what it says on the slide.  As the audience have already read those words, you are not adding anything new as a presenter.

Slides are supposed to be illustrations to back up your point.  It is more effective to introduce the topic of the next slide while the previous one is still on display and then once you have started to talk about the topic bring up the slide.  This way the slides are much more of a visual aid, rather than being the subject of the talk.

The final item you can add to a cue card is the time it should be when you start that card.  This will help you to pace your presentation and give you an early warning if you are in danger of overrunning.  I recommend writing the actual time, rather than the number of minutes in, as this will save you having to do the mental arithmetic while you are presenting.  This assumes you know exactly what time the presentation will start. Only write the time on about 3 cards. Half way through, 3/4 of the way through and then 2 minutes before you are due to finish. Writing the time on every card and you will end up ignoring it completely.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever