Poor workmen blame their tools!

Visual aides are there to support you, the presenter, not something to hide behind, so make sure that yours do just that!

PowerPoint is the most commonly used tool, and whilst it gets a lot of bad press “death by PowerPoint” this says more about the how presenters use it not the tool itself.

There are many things that you can do to make PowerPoint work for you, some of the more obvious ones are:

Don’t use bullets – they are dull. If you do use them do NOT read them out – this is an insult to the audience – they don’t need you if they can just read everything from the screen!

Keep slides plain – backgrounds that are too fussy will distract the audience. If you want to use a coloured background, chose pastel colours, something that compliments the subject – if you are talking finance don’t go with bright pink for example.

Contrast background – to the text and make sure that both are suitable for the lighting in the room where the presentation is to be delivered.

Use clear fonts – make them large enough to be read – from the back of the auditorium

Slide transitions – Keep these simple. Do not use animation to “fly in” or the like, have the text / visuals come up either all at the same time, or on your click – whichever suits best

Minimum number of slides – Too many slides and the audience will be focused on them and not you. Only use slides to add extra value to what you are saying, they support you, not the other way round.

Do not keep turning around to look at the slides – the audience does not want to see the back of your head. If you want to know what’s on the screen place a pc in front of you – whatever you see there is what the audience can see. You can half turn to point to something on the slide, but do so as infrequently as possible and always face the front when speaking

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

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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

Less is More!

When you have a framework (or structure) for the key messages you want to communicate and having checked that the story flows logically (otherwise re-order it so it does) you can then start to flesh out each section.

Add detail for each section and think about what you need to bring this to life (evidences and proofs). These are what you use to substantiate (prove) your argument. Lists of tables or numbers are not very good ways of showing these, but strong visual representations are. Do you have these already, if not who does and can you get them?  Always check if using material from a colleague that they know how you are going to use their material and double-check that they are correct.

Having fleshed out the structure with your content read it out loud to yourself,, to check that the logic still holds and the arguments don’t contradict one another. At this stage it is common to have to re-order key points or re-word them in order that they flow better together. Having done this you should also have an idea as  to how long the presentation will take to deliver, and thus how much material you need to take out. [This is the case in 90% of the clients we work with!]

Avoid too much detail for several reasons. Firstly, it may trip you up when you are presenting. Secondly, the audience probably won’t be able to either absorb all the detail or remember it. Thirdly, it distracts from the core messages that you absolutely want them to remember. LESS IS MORE is the golden rule!

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

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