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 "
in our "
A to Z of
and for those of you who have not heard of
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Never let them
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
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.
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to Z of Effective Presentations
In this issue it is the turn for the
s, including: Enthusiasm, Energy and Eye Contact
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
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
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
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
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
, of which the above section is an extract, is
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
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.
www.businesspresentation.biz for further information and on-line