Ten Tips for Successful Presentations
Bill Cottringer

Successful selling is often preempted by the requirement of giving a formal presentation to convince the customer to go with your product or service. These presentations require some sensible prep work to result in successful sales. Below are ten useful tips to make that happen.

1. Do some research on your audience ahead of time. now the faces, names and main interests/dislikes, positions in the organization, and any negative hot buttons to avoid, etc. of the people on the other side of the table who you will be presenting to. Building good rapport out of the gate, especially with feelings, helps make the necessary connection, builds confidence and facilitates good communication. Greetings using the person’s name, firm handshakes, good eye contact and a smile go a long way. So does saying what you know they want to hear.

2. Lean towards over-dressing rather than being too casual, depending upon your knowledge of what the audience prefers and what their norm is. This usually gives you the advantage of some healthy formality and strengthens the show of your professionalism and what you are trying to convey to your audience.

3. These presentations rarely go as planned or expected, and so you must be flexible and adaptable to shift gears accordingly to the inevitable glitches. If you are already the incumbent, the decision may have already been pre-made based on the quality of your past performance and any new advantages you tooted in your proposal. If this is a new job, you have an uphill battle to convince the customer to take a chance on you with valid reasons they can take to the bank.

4. Develop a simple and attractive 10-page PPT with brief bullet points of the most critical information you want your interviewing audience to know, which you can expand upon according to perceived interest. Show this on a big screen or hand it out for everyone to follow, whichever seems most appropriate for the room, table and the audience. Always deliver your presentation with noticeable passion, enthusiasm and positivism.

5. Have a few one-page handouts to complement your PPT materials—the things you know will duly impress the audience such as the critical success factors for the work you are trying to keep or get, service evaluation forms, an outline of your hiring, training and assigning process, etc. But avoid overloading the audience with too much information they didn’t ask for.

6. The best presentations allow for you to present 20-30 minutes of information you want the audience to know and them to have the same airtime in asking you important questions they want to know to vote in your favor.

7. Tone down on bragging or imposing information that isn’t really isn’t wanted. It is most often the quality of your answers to their questions—saying what they want to hear—that are heard and remembered most, and have the biggest influence on the presentation outcome.

8. Anticipate and provide what information would be most helpful in choosing you over the competition. Anticipate the tough questions—like turnover rate, past problems and viable solutions, difficult scenarios, current needs, what performance factors they want measured and how, etc.—and have your answers ready. Whenever you can preclude the asking of a question with information in your presentation, that is helpful.

9. At the end of your presentation, succinctly summarize the sound-bytes you want remembered that differentiate you from the competition. And at the end of the Q & A, always ask if any of your answers need clarification or further details. And thank everyone for the opportunity graciously to end on a positive, memorable note.

10. Finally, the more preparation the better. Consider following Mohammed Ali’s winning mantra: “Always be under-confident and over-prepared.” Trying to wing it on the fly is a quick way to fall down a slippery rabbit hole, that won’t end well. However, a little dose of well-placed and well-timed honest spontaneity will always take the stiffness out of the air.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D., Certified Homeland Security (CHS) level III, is Executive Vice-president for Employee Relations for Cascade Security Corporation in Bellevue, Washington; sport psychologist, photographer and adjunct professor in criminal justice at Northwest University. He is author of several business and self-development books, including You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, ‘P’ Point Management, Reality Repair, Reality Repair RX, Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Smart Dog’s Tale. He can be reached at 425-652-8067 or ckuretdoc@comcast.net or www.authorsden.com/cottringer