by: Omar Martin
Our life is made up of a series of “sales presentations”. Sales may not be your thing, but if you’re the boss you’re making presentations everyday. Whether you are announcing a policy change to employees, selling an idea to your spouse, or just trying to win others over to your point of view – you need to punch up your people skills for winning pitches.
To become a master at it can be summed up in the acronym IPRESENT!
“I” – INVOLVE YOUR AUDIENCE. People support solutions that they help create, so involve them by allowing your audience to participate with questions or ideas. It goes without saying that to not involve key people is risky, because messages can be misunderstood. Your plans may be derailed before they begin if sufficient “buy-in” is lacking. Use lots of open-ended questions in your presentation to draw out the silent type.
“P” – PREPARE YOUR AUDIENCE. Preparation is one of the keys to success. Prepare your listeners to what’s coming during or before your presentation. Try these tactics:
Assign task-related duties to what your work will become. This could be reading or studying of a problem before it actual occurs, and the preparations of possible solutions. An example could be, “go and visit three kinds of accounts before the meeting.” Make pre-meeting contacts with those invited by email, phone, or in person. You might want to try an informal survey to get people’s position on the issues at hand.
Remember support on key or controversial matters can be established ahead of time by lobbying, if you know where to lobby.
“R” – RESEARCH YOUR ARSENAL. Do your research! People who make it look easy and are effective presenters have a hidden arsenal. This is an arsenal of organized, up-to-date, material that can be accessed quickly when needed. They have the statistics to back up their ideas or claims, and they have stories, examples, jokes, and ice-breakers to use if it is even needed.
Your presentation could include tangible items relating to the issue for example, articles clipped from newspapers or magazines, photographs, and reports. If you want to become a master in this, learn to maintain resources you can access for just the right thing at the right time.
“E” – EXPLAIN : “WHY?” Remember you must explain “why?” One of the most convincing things you could do is to give your audience a reason why they should do what you suggest or believe what you say. People want and need to know what is in it for them in order to be react positively to what you want them to do or expect from them. You need to deliver a vision of benefits for your audience. The “why” won’t necessarily generate a “yes” for you, but it may open the door for receptivity to your idea.
If they know and accept the “why” then they will understand the purpose of our actions. Use words like “because” or “so that” in your presentation, but don’t forget to finish the phrase. If your subject matter is controversial or going to generate emotions from your audience, than I suggest that your “why’s” be tested in advance. Ask some people you trust or that are on your “team” to role play with you and to give you negatives or feedback as to what your audience may say.
“S” stands for STATE (MENTAL) MANAGEMENT. For example if you try giving a pep talk to your sales force when you’re depressed – it won’t work! If you can’t manage your own mental state and that of your listeners then there will be no communication between the two. Something to always keep in mind is that you should always – “act as if.” Act the way you want to feel or the way you want others to feel. Use music to set the mood if necessary, dress the part, or do whatever it is necessary to get you in the right mood. Remember that you’re the one in charge, and being a master at presentations isn’t about being perfect – it’s about achieving your objective.
“E” is for ELIMINATING THE UNKOWN. There are many people who have a fear of public speaking. If this is you, don’t worry you are not alone. What are some of the signs? Maybe you’re nervous, developing a poor voice tone or maybe you have negative body language, and you are unable to respond to audience feedback. Being able to managing your anxiety and battling to overcome your fear; helps you to focus on your audience. One approach to overcome your fear is to ask ourselves a list of “what if?” questions, also, Take ownership of the situation. Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse, get the marbles out before you even begin. Double check your notes, and prepare yourself.
“N” is fudging a little by using the second letter of the word “know” – as in kNow Your Audience. It doesn’t matter how many people you are making your presentation to, you must do three things: Meet their needs, reduce tension, and avoid mistakes. Knowing your listeners will give you a chance to tailor your objectives to meet their needs. With knowledge of your audience you’ll be able to identify their “hot buttons” and be able to use them later on.
“T” stands for TAILOR YOUR PRESENTATION THROUGHOUT Always remember that everyone is different. You need to be able to adapt and relate to everyone. How do you do this? You have to interact with your audience. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
When you’re making a presentation, watch for non buying signs. These signs are not always verbal. A person’s body language and facial expressions will tell you a lot, such as, clock-watching, foot-tapping, and cat-napping. When any of these are present get some feedback with, “Is it too warm in here?” or “Should I pick up the pace?” That breaks the attention or lack of, of the audience and brings them back to your talk. One important thing to remember is people have a short attention span so you have to keep them interested or you’ll lose them. Sometimes a simple thing like taking a short stretch break will solve the problem.
Remember, life is a series of presentations. The knowledge to master them is almost within your reach.