First Impressions really matter!

You might think they don’t but they do, always have done and always will. We get bombarded with information all day every day – from the media, internet, colleagues, friends & family etc and our systems are geared up to filter out the majority of it, so we only retain what we need to survive.

So the question is how do you survive the filtering out process and become important enough to be retained? Well, you’d better not let them forget you before they even get to know you – hence making your first impression count!

  1. Make eye contact. Before you extend your hand in greeting make sure you have made eye contact. This lets the other person know that you acknowledge them. Without eye contact the initial non-verbal communication there is no recognition that you are going to interact.
  2. Firm hand shake and state your name. This creates an immediate level of rapport. Failure to do so makes one party feel rejected even though this was unlikely to have been the intention.
  3. Ask their name. Stating your own name as well as asking theirs is absolutely critical in any interaction, if you want to make a good first impression and build rapport.
  4. Be confident. Project confidence as this has a huge impact on people’s perception of you. People will be more influenced by the degree of confidence that you display rather than the content of your communications.
  5. Speak slowly. This prevents you from getting tongue-tied or having awkward pauses. Slow deliberate speech projects a strong sense of professionalism, charisma and is more enjoyable and easier to listen to. Use short sentences too.
  6. Smile. When you smile at people they ae very likely to smile back, which makes them feel engaged with you and feeling as though they are having fun.
  7. Have steady eye contact. When you look people in the eye when you are talking to people gives the impression that you know what you’re talking about. It also makes them pay attention to you.
  8. Avoid pausing language. Avoid using noises like “um” or “ah” or “like” or other modern slang. Doing so makes you  seem unprofessional.
  9. Use positive language. Avoid phrases such as etc, etc. as these will undermine the strength of your argument and create a negative impression of you.
  10. Posture. Sit or stand straight with your chest slightly out and shoulders back. This communicates confidence and adds to the perception that you are confident and smart.
  11. Body Language.  Avoid fast or fidgety body movement. This is distracting. Use careful and deliberate movements of your body to accentuate points you are making.
  12. Relax and enjoy. When you appear relaxed you encourage your audience to do likewise, this makes it feel like more fun, for you and them – this too adds to the positive perception of your confidence and capability. If people enjoy talking to you it increases the chances of them doing it again and to remember you.

Contact us on 01963 240555 or win@thebidcoach.com

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Top Ten Tips – Preparation for a Presentation

ImageWhen preparing for a presentation there are some golden rules that you can follow to make your presentation more interesting, therefore more memorable and thus make you seem all the more professional to your audience.

Presenting business topics can be potentially difficult to make interesting, but follow the tips below and you give yourself every opportunity to get and hold your audience’s attention, so they retain your messages and enjoy your presentation all the more

  1. Begin with something thought-provoking. Offer up a surprising insight into the subject, or adopt a new position on the subject just to make the audience think.
  2. Minimise your intro. They don’t need or want to know everything about you, or your firm, or why you are the speaker – this will just bore them. Have an introduction which is one or two sentences long at most.
  3. Short and sweet. Remember how many presentations you’ve had to endure that just went on and on, well make sure you don’t fall into the same trap – make it half as long as you originally thought it should be.
  4. Facts are friendly. Avoid generalities as they suggest your thinking is also “fluffy”. Make your case a mixture of factual evidences and proofs that show your ability. Stories that highlight your experience in specific circumstances can be memorable and dramatic.
  5. Be relevant. Your audience will only pay attention to stories, ideas and facts which are immediately relevant.
  6. Use straightforward backgrounds. When you use slides or other visual aides keep them simple so they don’t distract or confuse the audience.
  7. Use large, easy to read fonts. Make it easy for the audience to read the slides, to understand the messages. Avoid bold, italics and ALL-CAPS
  8. Keep graphics simple. Overcomplicated graphics, drawings or tables turn people off. Keep them simple and highlight the specific areas you want the audience to focus on.
  9. Less is more. You want the audience to remember your message so stick to the really key messages which you want them to take in. Repeat these several times to increase their retention levels.
  10. Build your story. Presentations can be boring when they only contain facts with little or no context. Setting them within a story provides this and makes the facts more memorable.

Contact us today on 01963 240555 or win@thebidcoach.com

Top Tips – Handling the question & answer session effectively

Question and answer sessions can take on a momentum of their own, if you are not able to manage them well. For certain once the audience spots a weakness they are very likely to exploit it – which just multiples the degree of discomfort for you.

To avoid this ever happening to you always adhere to these rules.

  1. Prepare answers. Based on what you know of the audience, their existing knowledge, roles and responsibilities and the material you have presented anticipate which topics will attract questions.
  2. Listen (really listen). Make sure you really understand the question before attempting to answer.
  3. Seek clarification. Check you understand the question correctly before starting your answer.
  4. Think. Before you speak make sure you know what you plan to say
  5. Be brief. Do not over answer the question as this often leads you into areas you would rather avoid and anyway the audience probably doesn’t want too much detail.
  6. Check. Get confirmation from the questioner that you have answered their question.
  7. Be honest. If you don’t know the answer, say so. BUT do commit to get back to them within a reasonable timescale – and make sure that you do!

Be very aware of your body language when answering questions and make sure that you retain a positive stance, manner, voice and eye contact with your audience through-out. Doing so will add considerable credibility to your answers. Even after the session is over be aware that while the audience can see you they are receiving non-verbal communications from you.

Having a bad day?

It’s the way you tell-em!

People will remember more about how you said something than the actual words that you spoke so it is crucial that your delivery is the best it can be. Once again there are techniques that you can use to increase the focus of the audience and thus increase how much of what you say they remember.

By this stage if you’ve done everything above you should be quietly confident that you know what you’re going to be talking about which gives you confidence and so you can relax and enjoy the experience. I accept that “enjoy” may not be the first thought in your mind, but if you can convince yourself that you might enjoy the experience then the likelihood is that you will.

The brain sees things like this as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and whatever you think will be the outcome is more than likely how it will turn out – so tell yourself you ARE going to enjoy it as you’ve worked very hard to prepare thoroughly.

Remember, you are going to tell them something that it is in their interest to hear, and that they will benefit from your presentation.

The audience wants you to succeed, for them there is nothing worse than listening to a presenter die on their feet – it’s embarrassing. They would rather you succeed; it makes their life so much easier!

The single most important thing to be is enthusiastic – how can you expect to carry an audience with you if you are not displaying energy and passion for the subject. This doesn’t mean you have to try to become something you’re not, because the audience will see you as phoney if you do. It means taking your natural style, and adding authority and presence through your tone and manner (body language).

The trick is to engage with the audience early – in the first 60 seconds preferably – get them on your side and keep them there. This is where your pithy (what’s in it for you statement / comment / challenge) comes in. It must be something that captures their imagination, is credible and offers them hope.

Another part of engaging with them is to remove barriers – get out from behind the lectern or desk. This means you can move around more, which in turn means you can have more eye contact, use body language to greatest effect and make it easier for the audience to focus on you. Your slides or props are just that – there to support you, not the other way around.

When speaking to a massed audience it is very important to use you voice carefully. You need to make sure that your voice can be heard at the back of the auditorium (sound gets muffled when a room is full of people).

Equally you need to talk more slowly than you would in everyday speech. This is to allow people time to absorb and think about what you have said.

Use pauses often. They allow people to absorb what you’ve said. Pause after saying anything especially important – this not only allows the audience time to absorb and consider what you’ve said but the pause itself tells them that what you just said is something they should pay particular attention to – and they will – if you give them the opportunity. Whilst paused make strong eye contact with as many people as possible – let them acknowledge your eye contact, then move on to more of the audience – this is very powerful!

As this is the single most important section of the preparation and the amount of time you invest here will be re-paid ten-fold. You need to rehearse the presentation from end to end at least 4-6 times, more if you can! Why, well, once you have done it this many times you will know the material so well that you will be less reliant on your notes and need to think less about what you say and more about how you say it.

Make the rehearsal as realistic as possible – deliver the presentation in front of friends or family or look at yourself in a mirror(yes it will feel embarrassing, but you can iron out what sounds good and what doesn’t and change phrases that don’t sound quite right). You will also see those idiosyncrasies that you have – hands in pocket, going “um” a lot, shuffling or pacing and you can then work on reducing them – I didn’t say getting rid of them altogether, just get them under control.

Once you’ve done the presentation in front of friend, family or a mirror doing it in front of a live audience is relatively straightforward – honestly!

In Conclusion

We can all present well if we make sure we follow a few basic principles.

  1. Be clear what it is you want the audience to do as a result of listening to you. Make sure you tell them what your purpose is early on.
  2. Provide appropriate detail, in the form of evidences and proofs, to convince them that this course of action is to their advantage.
  3. Engage with the audience. Make a personal connection with them, no matter how numerous they are.

Most important of all is to rehearse the presentation sufficiently so that you know the material so well you can concentrate on how you engage the audience, and are not just thinking about what you have to say. How many rehearsals this is depends on you, but the acknowledged industry thinking is that this will be between 5-8 times for the first time you present the material and 3-5 thereafter.

The Bid Coach are experts in training your teams to win.

Contact Hugh at: via www.thebidcoach.com or win@thebidcoach.com

or ring (01963) 240555

Interview Techniques

Via Scoop.itInterview Techniques

Do you know that bad body language can cost you an interview? Bad body language is
one of the top job interview mistakes you can ever do to your career. There are
some things you will think you are doing right but may be wrong or do NOT go
well with the other parties in the interview.

Over 70% of any message we convey is in how we say it, rather than the actual words? You will realize at the end of the interview that an interviewer has been making up
their mind about you, and that takes into account more than just what you say.
Job interview presentation is massively important and the right interview body
language is a big part of that.

Your body language at interview is crucial to the impression you make. It is about
your personal impact, and how you say what you say. This is an area where you can gain the biggest advantage over your competitors if you know what you are doing. As your knowledge and confidence in this area increases you will be able to leave them further and further behind. Often candidates worry they cannot learn the skills of interview body language, let alone put them into practice. Body language is both an art
and a science. You could spend a long time studying and learning how to apply
it but you don’t have to.

Once you grasp the idea that your answer is more than just the words you say you
will undoubtedly improve your presentation and delivery because of your
newfound awareness. To grasp this concept there are traits that you need like;

~ Friendliness.

Confidence

~ Interest

Using your body language effectively can help you create a rapport with the
interviewer.

This is a whole discipline in itself but you will succeed by making use of the
following tips:

1. Present yourself as a winner: Because if you look, smell and act like the
successful candidate the chances are you will ultimately be that successful
candidate.

2. Give a good handshake: A good firm handshake shows confidence and gives a strong impression.
Apply a firm pressure, but don’t go overboard and grip too tightly!

3. The eyes have it: Keeping a reasonable amount of eye contact indicates you are confident in your abilities and comfortable with the questions being asked of you.

4. Learn the art of sitting down: You want your posture to send a positive
message. No slouching. Sit straight with both feet on the ground. Don’t fidget
with your hands. Placing them in your lap indicates you are comfortable and
confident.

5. Smile. Smiling is one of the simplest ways to create a great impression. Smiling not
only helps you feel more confident, but relaxes the interviewer and helps to
warm them towards you.

Call us now on 01963 240555 or email win@thebidcoach.com

Be Prepared!

Make sure your presentation is delivered as you intend, there are a few things that you should do, to make sure you have covered all eventualities.

The 48 hours before the event

  • Confirm with the client that no arrangements have changed
  •  Double-check the address of the venue, and any access restrictions
  • Confirm the dress code to all attending – better to be too formal than too informal.
  • Assign specific tasks to people and divide the presentation materials across the team. (No one person should have the one piece without which you cannot go ahead)
  • Take your own – paper, pens, pointers, easels, screen, extension leads
  • Check whether it’s OK to stick / pin anything to the walls – then make sure you use the correct means (pins, blu-tac, magnetic pads)
  • Be aware of anything happening in the area which might affect travel, such as large crowd events
  • Have contact details for all members of the team who are coming separately so you can check their progress if they are late for a rendezvous
  • Plan to rendezvous the team together at or close to the venue

On the day

  • Be familiar with, the surroundings (room layout, lighting, seating, shape of room etc.)
  • Learn how to control the atmosphere (lights, temperature etc.)
  • Lay the room out as suits the type of presentation (not always possible)
  • Always stand to the left of the screen – as seen by the audience
  • Ensure that you can be seen and heard by all in the room
  • Have your notes well prepared
  • Ensure compatibility with equipment (best way is to take your own)
  • Pour a glass of water
  • Rehearse your first few words to yourself
  • Take a deep breath, and hold it for a couple of seconds
  • Take a sip of water
  • Smile at the audience
  • Make eye contact with as many of the audience as is practical
  • Speak with passion and commitment
  • Remove all equipment and props. Have an inventory list and check that you take everything

Magnificent Seven Presentation Tips

The key to engaging, and thus persuading, your audience is authenticity. This means bringing your true self to the fore. If you try to be something you are not your audience will see straight through you

There are seven key areas you can use when trying to make sure you present as your real self. Look at each briefly in turn and evaluate what effect they can have – for better or for worse!

1) Voice. Use the voice you were given, it’s the one with the most credibility. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – don’t try to put on the voice of another, or to mimic a style you think the audience expects.

2) Content. People know when you’re saying things you really don’t believe, or saying things in a way that is contrary to who you are. If you have to say something that makes you uncomfortable, find a way to re-frame it in terms you can assert with confidence and integrity.

3) Facial expression. Be genuine and be sincere. Forced smiles and other forms of feigned sincerity and enthusiasm are easily detected by the audience. They’re a form of dishonesty and throw into question everything you’re saying.

4) Attire. Dress in clothes of a style that are what you normally wear. If you normally wear a suit and tie then not wearing one to present in is going to make you feel as though you’re in a straight jacket. Equally dressing down from a suit to a polo shirt and chino’s can have the same effect on you. Dress as who you are, and what you feel comfortable in. For formal presentations It’s always better to be one point over than one point under what the audience is wearing.

5) Body language. Don’t try to gesticulate in a style that is much different to your natural style. No gesticulation and exaggerated gesticulation are extremes to be avoided. Work on using some gesticulations, but make sure you feel comfortable in doing them, and make sure they are appropriate for the audience and the subject.

6) Eye contact. When you look at others do you communicate connection and warmth or is it dodgy hit and run style? Make eye contact that is direct and prolonged enough to say, I see you and I’m paying attention to you.

7) Passion. You are more impactful when you’re passionate about your subject, but you don’t have to effuse to show passion. It can be contained in the quality of our content, the cool confidence of our delivery, or the simmering facial expressions.

The bottom line is: Be yourself. Everyone else is taken!

Call us now on 01963 240555 or email win@thebidcoach.com