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Newsletter

Spring 2006

 
Vol 1  Issue 5    

Welcome

It has been some time since the last issue of Markets View, mainly because I have been hard at work setting up a new line of business, providing Effective Communications Skills training. I am please to say that the hard work is paying off and business is going very well.  We have now run several Effective Presentation Skills courses, both as public courses and special in-house versions,  for specific customers, all of which have been received very well. 

Now we are expanding our repertoire to include Sales Training, in particular, a course called " Close More Sales!" .  This course is given by one of the county’s leading sales trainers, Mr Shaz Quereshi.  Details of when and where these courses are being run are at the end of this newsletter.

As usual in Markets View, we look at one particular aspect of Effective Communications.  In this issue, I look at why, even though it is not a race, it is important not to let your audience get ahead of you.

We are on to the letter " E" in our " A to Z of Effective Presentations" and for those of you who have not heard of PipeLine, I would like to introduce you to this potentially beneficial movement.

Never let them get ahead

Letting the audience get ahead of you is one of the most common ways of killing a good presentation. 

Once your audience know what you are going to say next, there is a strong tendency for them to switch off and start thinking about other things.  They will get bored waiting for you to say it and get on to the next point.  Just like the hare and the tortoise, in the classic children’s story, the hare falls asleep as soon as he is well ahead.  Unlike this story, the objective of a presentation is for both the speaker and the audience to arrive at the end of the presentation at the same time. 

There are many ways for an audience can get ahead of you, if you let them.  One of the most common ways is when you put up a slide with several bullet points on it and start working your way down the list.  Before you are even through the first sentence describing the first bullet point, they will have read the slide.  If the bullets are self explanatory, then they are ahead of you.  They will have caught the gist of what you are going to say and then have to wait for you to say it.  While they are waiting, their mind will wander and you will have to work much harder to recapture their attention.

When using bullet points on a slide then make them interesting and ambiguous so that your audience will not know what you are about to say.  Using the line by line reveal facility of presentation software like PowerPoint can help reduce the potential for your audience to get ahead of you, as they only see the bullet point coming up as you are talking about it, but the highly repetitive nature of bullet, talk, bullet, talk, bullet, talk becomes very tedious after only a few slides.  This irritation will also make people more likely to switch off.

Using images in your visual aids can be a good way to help people remember what you are saying, without giving the game away, in advance of your words. Not only will using images stop your audience getting ahead of you, they can leave a much longer lasting impression, than mere text.

Of course, handing out printed copies of the whole presentation before the event is another classic way of allowing the audience to get ahead of you.

Do not get me wrong; I am still a firm believer in the ‘tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them’ approach to presentations.  But this does not mean letting your audience get ahead of you.  To keep an audience listening you need to build in some suspense and tension just like in a television drama or a play.

PipeLine

A while ago, I discovered the following website http://www.pipelinecard.org/ which has been set up to secure cheaper petrol for its members. It's free to join and expects to deliver discounts of between 5p and 7p a litre on petrol & diesel. It already has over 420,000 registered participants. They have already secured an agreement in principle from a major UK fuel retailer to provide a discount to their members.

 

It costs absolutely nothing to join, but by joining Pipeline Card today you strengthen their clout as well as making yourself eligible to buy fuel at a discount. By telling other drivers about this website you can make that happen sooner - and do them a favour into the bargain.

Why not take a look, if you haven’t already, and see what you think?

A to Z of Effective Presentations

In this issue it is the turn for the " E" s, including: Enthusiasm, Energy and Eye Contact

 E is for Enthusiasm & Energy 

There is an old saying ‘You get out what you put in’ which is true in many walks of life but very true when it comes to giving presentations.  The more enthusiastic you are and the more energy you put in to a presentation the more the audience will enjoy it.

Luckily enough the way we act and speak when we are excited and enthusiastic is not dissimilar from the way we are affected by nervous energy.  After all it is all energy and driven by adrenaline.  So rather than worrying about our nervousness before a presentation, use that nervous energy to inject some enthusiasm into your presentation.  In this way, pre-presentation nerves can actually help us to be livelier and enthral the audience.

The opposite is also true.  Be very careful if you are giving the same presentation repeatedly.  It may be the tenth time you have said it, but it is the first time this particular audience has heard it.  You need to give it with the same energy and enthusiasm the tenth time as you did the first time.  A colleague of mine used to remind me to ‘sell it not tell it’.  It makes an enormous difference.  Just saying the words is not enough, you need to perform the presentation, you need to put the energy and enthusiasm into it, you need to sell it to your audience.

 

E is for Eye Contact

Look a person in the eye and smile at them and they will smile back.  It is part of our inbred human nature.  I’m sure you have all seen the bumper stickers, smile and the whole world smiles with you.  This basic human nature can be a wonderful ally when you are presenting.

Another basic instinct is to avoid eye contact when you are telling someone a lie. These two traits emphasise the importance of eye contact when you are presenting.

Ideally, you should look each person in the eye for up to about 2 to 3 seconds, the time it takes to say a sentence or make a point.  Moving randomly around the room to ensure everyone gains the benefit and feels that you are talking directly to them.  With a large audience, where it is not possible to make individual eye contact, split the room into four quadrants and look to each quadrant in turn.  The effect will be that everyone in that quadrant will think you are looking at him or her. 

With a smaller audience, there will be some people who give better facial feedback to your eye contact than others.  They will smile more and look like they are enjoying the presentation more.  These are good people to look at when you first start the presentation.  They will boost your confidence and calm your nerves but once you are get going and are into your stride be careful not to favour these people too much.  They will get more out of your presentation but it will be to the detriment of the others. 

When you are giving a sales presentation, a useful trick is to identify the decision makers in the audience beforehand and ensure you give them the majority of your eye contact.

When I used to run half-day seminars, I would always get a lower rating from the people I did not look at much.  I know now, that you have to look at everyone, not just the people who are easy to look at or who return eye contact.  Be careful to look at people round the edges of the room or people who are sitting in the corners at the front, areas that you will not naturally look towards.

You can use eye contact to control an audience and their reactions.  If someone looks disinterested give them more eye contact, their interest should soon pick up.  By ‘more eye contact’, I do not mean stare at them, but as your eyes move apparently randomly round the room, go back to that person more often than anyone else.

To avoid question time turning into a conversation between one or two people and yourself, ensure that you give the questioner only 25% of your eye contact and the rest of the audience 75%.  If you do not want a follow up question from the same person, ensure you are not looking at the questioner when you come to the last part of your answer. 

Thank you for reading this far

The book " The A to Z of Effective Business Presentations" , of which the above section is an extract, is available from www.businesspresentation.biz

If you someone else in your organisation is responsible for organising training in presentation skills or sales techniques, I would be grateful if you could email me their details.

We have Effective Presentation Skills courses running in Reading on 5th July and Basingstoke on 12th July

" Close More Sales!" is running in Guildford on 6th July and Reading on 13th July.

See www.businesspresentation.biz for further information and on-line bookings.

  
I hope you have found this issue of Markets View interesting and informative.


Effective Business Communication

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