Tools for Making Effective Presentations and Keeping Your Audience Engaged

Stage Fright is a common disease of our dynamic corporate world. Astonishingly, not many senior executives undergo a formal training in the art of public speaking or in making presentations. And only those senior executives who understand the importance of posture, pauses, blank spaces, facial expressions, flow and quality of words, variation of voice pitch and timings try to learn this art.

I take it as serious business.

After having attended a formal “Effective Speaking” training program in 1996 at the British Foreign Office training center in London, I was quite hopeful to develop my skills as an effective speaker and presenter. This three day program covered the above techniques in addition to a session on effective writing. I remember our facilitators kept repeating;

“There is only one tool that helps deliver good speeches or presentations – Practice, practice and more practice”.

In the past 15 years, I have delivered uncountable presentations and spoke at numerous public forums, conferences and seminars. And equipped with what I learnt at British Foreign Office Training, I also tried to analyze various fellow presenters.

My observations confirm that particularly case of senior executive that did not go through a purpose-designed program, there always are three common key missing links:

- Control on body movements
- Voice variation
- Expressions

In my opinion, one cannot doubt the knowledge and quality of contents of an expert speaker. However if the above ingredients are missing, it is highly likely that your audience will lose interest. I have also seen that extensive and complicated presentations also cause severe damage to presenter’s ability to engage audience. I have also observed that some presenters keep going in the flow of their thoughts, and in trying to impress their audience forget that a normal human has a short attention time span. In my opinion, if your listeners can not retain 25% of what you have said – “you have failed to deliver your message”.

Let’s discuss the common what can be done to avoid “Presentation Disasters”:

Understand your audience:

Highly important. One must not prepare a presentation without knowing the audience. Try to gauge the level of education, expertise, areas of interest, issues faced, and then only develop your presentation. This is the only way to keep your audience engaged throughout.

Write from your heart: Often I have seen people delivering presentations or speeches written by others. For trained and experienced presenters, this is okay, however if you have not contributed towards developing the presentation or speech, speaking from your heart will be too challenging, hence creating an impact too will not be possible.

Avoid reading from paper: I am not a fan of reading from a written paper. Fine to do it only in case of a specific government level speech or expressing point of view, but for any other presentation, if you read from a paper, you are inviting a reputational disaster!

Practice: Okay, here is the key – as I mentioned above, for making highly effective presentations, extensive practice is unavoidable. And when I talk about practice, I am not only suggesting “speaking practice” but also reviewing the flow and carefully thinking about expected questions and how to respond to these questions. Surprisingly, very few presenters follow this strict rule.

I have also seen presenters struggling with technical glitches, ask yourself:

How difficult to have an additional soft copy of your presentation and a printed version? How difficult it is to check the microphone volume? How difficult it is to control the lights at the stage to avoid blindness?

And the final word “Your audience do not know what you would tell them next, so if you have forgotten a point, keep moving on, they won’t notice it”.

If you follow these points, you will be repeatedly performing better.

Happy presenting!!

How to Develop Confidence During Presentation

Speaking in public always instills fear and trepidation in most adults. Some adults tend to run away from presenting their proposals and ideas. However, avoiding yourself from speaking in public will never lead you to success.

Here are some useful tips which can assist you to develop more confidence during public presentation.

Prepare yourself

It is a true fact that even the most experienced speakers and presenters get nervous before they start delivering their speeches. The key point here is to use the nervous energy to boost your delivery. How can you do that? You are advised to spend more time to do preparation. The first thing you need to prepare is the content of your speech. You need to make sure that you know WHAT you are going to say, WHY you are saying it and HOW to say it. Always keep to the main subject and keep it simple, short and precise.

Practice makes perfect

In order to deliver excellent presentation, nothing replaces practice. You need to run through your presentation in front of the mirror and watch yourself as you speak. You are reminded to watch out if you have any strange or odd gestures. You must control your movements well. If you can get your family members or friends to help, get them to listen to your speech and ask them for positive and constructive feedbacks.

H2O

You definitely need water. It is always best to have a glass of water near to you in case your throat gets dry or when you cough.

Take a deep breath

Just before you start your speech, you are recommended to take 3 deep breaths to calm your nerves.

Being humorous

Personally I agree that not everyone is born comedian. If you are not comfortable with telling jokes, please don’t do that. Maintaining your smile during the presentation will be the best you can do. At the same time, you should make sure that you are actually addressing the entire audience and not just one person. If possible, make eye contact with as many of them.

Pause

If you are delivering a heavy-going subject, you are advised to pause when necessary to give your audience time to understand what you have said. If you have Q&A session, then you may get the audience to ask you during the session.

Do you know that you can actually look confident even if you don’t have full confidence in yourself? Please bear in mind that your audience can’t see your sweaty palms or hear your pounding heart. So, why are you worried so much? Stay cool!

Prepare Yourself For Your Negotiation

Think of the areas within business that you negotiate.

Buying and selling products

Buying and selling services

Negotiating with your staff and team

Getting a pay rise

Having Part-time hours

Increasing head count

The list goes on.

In business you are constantly negotiating. Whether it is for goods or services or actually as a leader, persuading your team to follow your thoughts and directives in a persuasive manner. To be able to negotiate well could mean the difference between sinking and swimming. One thing for sure – it is likely to affect your bottom line.

The idea of this guide is to give you some basic principles in negotiation planning – now this does not fit all types of negotiation, but is trying to give you ideas before you buy and sell. We are going to look at it from your perspective and approach it from your style rather than a one size fits all training manual. Why? Because we are all different and have different needs and learning styles.

Most of us have negotiated all our lives. From the first time we screamed the house down demanding milk we have influenced people’s decisions.

Although this guide focuses more on business negotiation, this works on many aspects from booking hotels, training programmes, buying cars or antiques.

Preparation is a key element to any deal. Spending time developing this area is likely to be hugely beneficial in the long run.

The detail you require in planning depends on your needs – do you feel more comfortable with all the details you could possibly have or maybe a one-sheet summary be enough for you?

Once mastered, it ‘s great fun. Getting you some great deals not only to save but also create you money. The beauty of negotiation is it happens almost every day of our lives in some form or another so there’s plenty of time to practice!

What is negotiation? What does it mean to you?

To me, negotiation is to bargain, to reach an agreement ideally acceptable to both (or all) parties. The harder you negotiate, the more likely it is that you will tip the balance in your favour.

What you need to be aware of is tipping them so much that the other person jumps off the end and does not want to play anymore. In this case you have failed to create or indeed develop any long-term relationship and this may lead to difficult times ahead.

However, if you can justify what you are offering and make the other person feel happy with their lot (although maybe not skipping out of the room!!!), then you not only have created an effective deal for you, you may also be able to create bigger and better deals in the future (as well as some long lasting relationships).

The people you are negotiating with, for ease and a less them versus us approach, I am going to call the ‘other side,’ Team B.

The beginning
Without preparation and planning, our job will be infinitely more difficult. Preparation is universally agreed as the first stage of any negotiation. The other stages are:

PREPARE

DEBATE

PROPOSE

BARGAIN

AGREE

In a real negotiation you flit around in between all stages and rarely will you start at prepare and go through to agree without moving around.

At the first stage you can prepare so many things. Whether you are purchasing computer hardware or selling an advertising campaign this area is the cog of your wheel and influences ALL other areas.

Put yourself in the mindset of what do I need to do to get the deal that’s right for me?

To help you on your way with your list, here are just a few areas to think of:-

Details of the company you are trading with.

What can you have in advance of a negotiation that would be helpful?

What would be useful in the negotiation meeting to have right beside you?

Where can you get that information?

What is the Team B’s mission statement?

How can that help you in a negotiation?

Do you know anyone who has traded with them before?

Is their company prospectus of use, where can you get a copy?

How can you use the prospectus to your advantage?

How keen/desperate are they to trade? Maybe the prospectus will help you. What else could?

How are their competitors fairing? Are they offering deals?

Look at all the questions above with regards to their competitors.

Team B information
List the information to be sourced and where you can you get it? How can you use it to get the deal you want or at least be in control of the negotiation.

What do you want out of the Deal?
Ensure you have at least three ideas for outcomes.

Firstly your ideal outcome, a great deal for you, everything you want with all the bells and whistles (obviously to the point they will feel relatively happy with their outcome and you haven’t hacked them off so much they won’t send you a Christmas card ever again!)

Secondly an acceptable deal – OK you haven’t got everything but you’ve got more wins than losses and you can hold your head up high that you have the deal and you would be happy to trade with them again.

Thirdly – the bare minimum, what I call ‘the walk away rate.’ You need to be very sure of this as when it comes to the crunch you are prepared to ‘walk away.’

The thought of ‘can we afford to walk away’ may come in to play. If so, you need to be aware of this. If you can make sure you have an alternative to fall back on (i.e. a deal that you could do with someone else that can take the place of Team B’s offering if it’s not good enough). This is often called a BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.

Often people think there is no alternative but if you search hard enough you can often find one.

One companies solution (Team A) to a troubled negotiation was found when they felt there was no alternative. Their Team B – the sole provider of a certain item, felt they were in a dominant position as the market had no choice, found themselves coming unstuck at their aggressive and no compromise style.

If Team A had agreed to Team B’s offer they would have soon been out of business within three years. Their BATNA was to become a provider of the goods themselves and after a tough few years setting up, became strong competition against Team B!

Some hardened dealers will ask you early on ‘what’s your walk away rate?’ Be prepared for this and have your answer to hand. By this I don’t necessarily mean have a rate in mind but certainly have your answer to this.

List your three outcomes – ideal, good and acceptable. Do you have a BATNA?

Have you any easy-gives?

By this I mean things that have little or no value to you but could have a significant value to the other side. These could play a crucial role when it comes to the end of a negotiation when you are almost close to a deal.
For example:
If you work for a magazine have you got a front half page available and you need to sell it anyway – could you give them a positional upgrade.

If your selling a photocopier, have you still got some sample cartridges that you could include in the deal?

Although you are not breaking into a sweat by adding these in, it doesn’t mean you literally ‘give them away.’ If it’s valuable to Team B then make it special, it’s something to add in to get what you want and not to throw away lightly.

List your easy gives

Do they have things that you want, that you feel are easy gives
So what could Team B have that you would like as add-ins. Think of it from their perspective. If you have done your homework on their company you probably already have a good idea of this.

A couple of examples would be:
You are arranging a last minute dinner for some big clients. Has the restaurant the private room available in two weeks time? It’s unlikely someone will pay for it at this late stage so could you have it for free and even add in 3 bottles of wine. Think of how you could find out whether it is taken or not!!???! The restaurant could be very happy to fill the room that night and throw in some free wine, you are getting a good deal and the clients feel special because you are treating them like royalty!

You are buying a training package from a company and the course is £3000 they have quoted for 5 people. Can you send 6? Would you ask for 7 to settle on 6?

List their potential easy gives.

Preparation about the Meeting

Again list your areas that are important to you, however questions to think about:

Who is going from your company/side?

Who will be there from theirs?

The personalities of the people concerned and their relative seniority.

Where will the meeting be held?

Is there a good ‘home’ advantage?

What do you think they will want from the meeting/deal? If you have prepared well you are more likely to have an idea of this.

Opening Statement
Preparation can include your opening statement. The more you prepare beforehand the more time you have to concentrate on the nitty gritty of the negotiation.

What would be a great opening statement?

How could you take control of the meeting with what you first say?

Is it right to propose first? Does it feel right to you?

How would you feel if they proposed first?

Write your opening statement

Practice Anyone?
Some people really value a run through beforehand. Whether it is a pre-meeting to discuss what could come up, or asking a few colleagues who have not been involved to play Team B to gauge their reactions and maybe get a few helpful hints along the way. It’s also very useful so that you can see who best fits what role within the meeting.

The idea of this article is to give you a small insight into negotiation planning. Of course this is only a snapshot and many other ideas may be useful or indeed pertinent to your specific needs. However it is impossible to cover all types and all angles in a small guide. Added to this we haven’t even covered the negotiation itself!

Negotiation is a wonderful skill that can be developed and can save and gain you so much in business and in life.

Happy negotiating!