How to Give Mind-Blowing Presentations to Help You Sell More
To quote British judge George Jessel, “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”
In this next blog in our Building Business Series, we look into the many factors to consider in giving mind-blowing presentations. While presentation skills are one of them, they are not innate…at least for some people. Those who are born with that talent also recognize that presenting is not a “stagnant” trade. Presenting requires constant preparation, adapting, perfecting – and did I say preparation? I believe that practice makes perfect. But, it’s not only practicing a specific presentation – but practicing speaking in front of a group. The more you speak in public, the more your presentation skills will grow. To the occasional presenter, I suggest you practice public speaking anytime there is a chance to do so. Spouses, children, teenagers, friends, and colleagues can be the toughest – and most honest – critics, but that honesty will help tremendously! Preparation is a key factor, but don’t waste time rehearsing the talking points verbatim. You will most likely sound “robotic” and have difficulty including your personality and engaging your audience. Memorizing all content verbatim has resulted in some of the worst presentations I have ever delivered. Tell a story. Use your own experience (I just did) and be yourself. Audiences respond more to someone that comes across natural and believable.
Videotaping is also vital, although not pleasant. I started my public-speaking life 10 years ago and when I go back to look at my initial tapes (yes, you should record your performances) I can see what a difference those 10 years has made! By watching our own presentations, we become aware of how we handle ourselves, how we sound, and what we actually say. Filler words such as “and, um, uh, you-know, and like” are easily corrected if detected. Every time I tape a presentation I have given, I find something else I can improve upon.
Delivering mind- blowing presentations is hard work, and while any public speaker can offer advice, I believe that it comes down to these four things:
- Study your trade
- Know your material
- Know your audience
These four categories can be subdivided into many others, such as the way the presentation is built, the learning style to use (ADDIE, Kolb’s, etc.,) the way the materials are presented, the venue, etc. But that’s another blog post entirely.
The majority of presentations are delivered to adults. As adults ourselves, we know we get bored easily and have a tendency to tune out for a significant part of the presentation. This presents a big challenge for the presenter. Visuals can have a big impact on how the information is absorbed and I believe that great graphics – in lieu of words – can help with our ever-shortening attention spans. However, some of the best presentations I have witnessed and even delivered have had very few visuals. If slides are used, they should be simple, impactful, and not cluttered with charts, words, and bullet points. Steve Jobs, arguably one of the best presenters, once had seven words and just 10 slides. I bet everyone listened to him anyway.
A presenter can’t rely on visuals only to guide the presentation. Visuals should be used as a complement to the presentation as a whole. The presenter must take a customized energetic approach to keep the audience engaged and frequent interaction is key! Get the audience to talk, ask questions of them, create group activities to get the audience to participate, and even tell a joke – as long as it’s appropriate. Presenting also requires a certain pace. That pace can vary with your audience, the time of the day, topic, etc., but what all presentations require from time to time is … a pause. Allowing pauses will engage the audience with the presenter’s next word.
For those of us have that are in sales, (roofing sales in this case) the ability to deliver a message effectively to one or one thousand people, can be the difference between a sale and a waste of valuable time. Presenting to a group of building owners or an HOA can be the best opportunity to shine and secure vital work for your business. Start by knowing your industry in a way that will outshine your competition!
Know the nuances of roofing installation, whether it’s commercial or residential. When inquired about any detail of that particular installation, respond with no hesitation. Be ready with answers to questions like: How is a valley installed? What is a good TPO seam? Who trains your crews? You will need to be prepared for these and other questions. Take advantage of GAF’s CARE group and take a class to learn the answers to the questions before they even ask you them.
Know your company’s process. Educate your prospects on how a roof project should occur and how your company will deliver in every aspect. Explain the advantages of roofing maintenance and how much can be saved by having a good maintenance program. Look into the GAF CMP (Certified Maintenance Professional) program.
Know your audience. Find out who will attend the presentation and do preliminary research on what that particular HOA or building owner is looking for. Presentations like these are delivered in front of an audience with multiple evaluators and decision makers. The presenter’s performance needs to be absolutely engaging, believable, and convincing. The success of the delivery is by far one of the best ways to convey value. A well thought-out, prepared, and delivered presentation can demonstrate the value of the services that you can provide, and the difference between Companies “A” or “B”. You deliver the majority of the information that your prospects have at this time, so it better be a “knock-out” delivery! Remember, knowing your audience will help customize your presentation toward that audience – and that may make it more successful.
Perhaps the two most important parts of a presentation are the opening and closing. Some experts say that the first 30 seconds of a presentation are crucial for audience engagement. You can win or lose them in those 30 seconds. I can certainly say that with certain presenters, I can gauge how “things” will develop after the first moments of listening. Break the ice and captivate! On the other side of the spectrum, closings are also tremendously important, because it’s your opportunity to recap and, more importantly, leave a last “memorable” moment.
As I stated before, delivering mind-blowing presentations requires several things: knowing how to build the presentation itself, learning the material, understanding your audience, knowing which delivery method to use, and all the nuances that this trade requires (including how to measure success). Remember – audiences are there to watch you deliver a message. Be energetic and be loud and entertaining when it’s appropriate. But most importantly…be yourself! The best way to convey a message is to be genuine.
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