At the heart of every business presentation, is the goal to win more sales and repeat business. That’s why the relationship you build with your clients over time is important as well as how you regularly interact and communicate with them. When you’re pursuing new business, of course, you’re not going to have the backstop of a shared commercial history so how you present your case to potential new clients becomes key to your future success. Here are a few tips to help you get off to a positive start with a business presentation that will win more sales.
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail
This advice may seem a little harsh if, for example, you think you know lots of business people who can stand up and deliver killer lines to attract sales in what seems to be an off the cuff way. However, what you need to appreciate is that it’s more than likely they’ve been practicing over a long period and have managed to hone their speechifying skills to perfection.
One of the most useful items of information you can gather before a business presentation is about your likely audience. You need to know as much as possible about their business interests and why they are or may be attracted to your presentation. That detail will help you build a series of sound arguments and winning proposals.
Use the right material
There are a lot of debates these days about what works best in presentations – to PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint, for example. In the end, it’s worth acknowledging that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and so it’s vital to choose the most appropriate business images to support your presentation, whether you opt to pass around photographs or show slides.
Ideally, images should be striking and memorable. In most cases, a little humor is appreciated. In a presentation about building regulations, for instance, an image of someone opening a door onto a brick wall never fails to get an enthusiastic reaction.
Perfect your opening remarks
Public speaking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it’s normal to be a little nervous before an important presentation. The good news is that many people find that once they get started their apprehensions fade away and they begin to enjoy presenting information, particularly if they are passionate about it. The more you know about your subject matter, the more confident you will feel and a little dose of passion makes it easier to communicate well.
A good tip is to consider the message you want to get across as a target (think dartboard, literally). So, the most important part of your presentation dartboard – what your audience needs to know – is the bullseye, and that’s the essence of how you grab the attention of colleagues and business associates right at the very start of your presentation.
You can ask a question of your audience up front if that will get people motivated, quote a source that delivers a powerful message in tune with yours or briefly present statistics that illuminate the key issues.
After the bullseye
Your next job during your business presentation is to move outwards from the all-important central message and tell your audience what they ought to know. Some people use this middle section to tell a story as a way of engaging interest. It seems that an interesting and well-told narrative is much more likely to linger in people’s minds than a dry and dusty, purely factual speech.
Make your presentation a conversation
Everyone knows about maintaining eye contact with an audience, and it’s important to engage with people by being as interactive as possible. This can mean asking and responding to questions, moving around a stage rather than maintaining a fixed position and engaging in dialogue, not monologue: remember you are talking to people, not at them. Following on from this point, remember to pause from time to time, particularly if you have made a point that is significant, as this allows your audience to digest what you have been saying and perhaps to ask pertinent questions.
As you reach the end of your presentation you can relax a little and help your audience do the same. A joke or a funny story often helps lighten the atmosphere. If there is enough time, add any additional information that you think the audience may benefit from knowing, however, don’t leave insufficient time to reinforce that ‘bullseye’ message in your introduction.