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Presenting Your Business Pitch with Confidence

Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There’s a wide set of skills and traits you have to possess in order to become an effective business leader. Among those traits is self-confidence, a natural magnet that can draw people to you and make them want to listen to what you have to say. As such, it’s an invaluable skill during a business pitch.

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To entice potential investors, you need to appear and sound confident while pitching your idea. Investors are naturally drawn to leaders with high self-esteem because it signifies strength of character, another trait necessary to lead a business venture forward. As Larina Kase, a psychologist and author, said, “True confidence is not thinking that you’ll get a great result. It’s knowing that you can handle any result.” When the path towards success is dark and murky, confidence can carry a strong business leader through.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

How to Boost Your Confidence for a Business Pitch

There are things you can do to pump up your spirits before facing investors and presenting them your business model. Here are seven of them:

1. Look and sound the part

The thing about confidence is that you don’t need to have it to look the part. You can carry yourself with poise even if you’re feeling intimidated or scared inside. There are a few things you can do to package yourself for success: dressing well, correcting your posture, minding the pacing of your speech, using precise language, and smiling. In other words, by making a conscious effort to look confident, you can make a good impression.

2. Exude conviction from every pore

To sell a business idea, you should be able to show investors how passionate and committed you are. They’ll try to gauge whether you really know what you’re doing, so make sure that you remain composed but enthusiastic throughout your business pitch. Make the investors believe in your potential to succeed. To achieve this effect, you have to communicate a certain aura that tells investors how confident you are about your product. This means avoiding uptalk and articulating a statement with a declarative—not an inquisitive—tone.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

3. Know your key differentiator

To identify your business’s primary selling point, ask yourself what your edge is as opposed to competitors. Why should investors choose you over businesses similar to yours? You must have something unique to offer to make your business pitch stand out. Apart from this, you should also be able to explain what your worth is to investors. How can they benefit from your business? What gains can they expect, and when?

4. Find an external manifestation of success

Perhaps the best way to gain self-confidence is to find an external manifestation of your business’s capability to survive and succeed. It’s easier to sell a business idea if you have something tangible to back it up. An example of an external validation of success is a solid customer base that raves about your product. A sizable social media following that has positive things to say about your company is also a good proof that you’re breaking ground. Determining your niche is crucial during the first stages of business development because if you sell to the wrong customers, your business is bound to flop. On the other hand, with the right audience, you can improve your revenue and boost your credibility, which will ultimately attract investors towards your business.

5. Solve problems before they appear

Amateur entrepreneurs who only want to impress investors often make the mistake of acting like they’re immune to disasters. They’re hiding behind the assumption that their business model is so perfect, it can’t possibly be taken down by any future problem. As a general rule, before you present your business pitch to an investor, you should think through the possible challenges that you may encounter along the way. If possible, look for various solutions for each issue so that if one fails, you’ll have a backup to fall on. Set up contingency plans for when things don’t go as planned. By making sure that you’re prepared for the ugly as well as the good, you’ll be able to present yourself as a competent leader who can weather the storm when the worse comes to the worst.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

6. Rehearse and refine your business pitch

Preparation is key to any speech. As with any other field, achieving a certain level of self-confidence takes time and an immense amount of effort. Research also plays a major role on how competent and confident you will appear in front of a panel. Make sure that your presentation has no loopholes and that everything goes as planned.

7. Worry less and just do your part

Fussing over the aspects of your business pitch that you can’t control will only stress you out. Instead of worrying over the negative aspects of your situation, just focus on the positive. Don’t zero in on your weaknesses as that will only distract and discourage you. Instead, strive to turn your weak spots around and let go of the things you can’t change. Optimism can go a long way in boosting your self-confidence, so try to appreciate the good parts as much as you can.

Above all else, smile even if you don’t feel like it. As Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at George Washington University, said, “Smiling not only makes your voice more pleasant to listen to; it also conveys confidence…. You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.” That reason alone should be enough for you to flash a smile during a business pitch.

If you follow the aforementioned tips, you’ll be closer to improving your self-esteem. Just be patient and remember that confidence is built over time. With determination, you can stand in front of a panel of investors and present your business in the best light possible.

 

 

 

Resources:

Connick, Wendy. “How to Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).” The Balance. June 19, 2017. www.thebalance.com/how-to-find-your-unique-selling-proposition-usp-2917402

Landrum, Sarah. “10 Secrets to Sounding Confident.” Fast Company. July 20, 2015. www.fastcompany.com/3048748/10-secrets-to-sounding-confident

Lobb, Jennifer. “How to Pitch Your Business Like the Pros on Shark Tank.” Nav. December 28, 2016. www.nav.com/blog/how-to-pitch-your-business-like-the-shark-tank-pros-15102

Whitmore, Jacqueline. “9 Ways to Show More Confidence in Business.” Entrepreneur. September 30, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/237634

“How to Give Investors Confidence in Your Business Idea.” Virgin Startup. n.d. www.virginstartup.org/how-to/how-give-investors-confidence-your-business-idea

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Are Mind Games Still the Secret to an Effective Sales Talk?

If you’ve been in direct sales, then you know what it’s like to: 1) get the initial attention of a potential buyer, 2) maintain said attention on you, 3) promote your product, 4) keep the customer from walking away, 5) end your spiel, 6) somehow manage to induce your prospect to purchase your offer, and 7) thank your buyer and end the transaction. Rinse and repeat. Of course, this may be a gross, basic oversimplification of the whole process, but the main steps are there.

Let’s face it: even if trained salespeople have gone through the cycle hundreds of times, it’s statistically impossible that they have a 100 percent success rate. The next best thing is to reduce the number of naysayers. But how does that work when people are turned off by sales talk? By playing on their psyche.

Let’s be clear: this isn’t manipulating their minds into buying what you’re offering but rather talking to them and making them see the benefits of having your product. For that, you must know what you’re about to go up against.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Types of Customers

Depending on who you talk to, there are generally four types of customers. Retail expert Rick Segel segregates them as The Director (likes to take charge), The Analytical (analyzes the finer details), The Relater (knows someone from everywhere), and The Socializer (loves to build relationships).

In a HubSpot article, Leslie Ye classifies customers as Assertive, Amiable, Expressive, and Analytic. While there are obvious similarities between Segel’s and Ye’s lists, i.e., Assertive and The Director and Amiable and The Socializer, the difference is that Ye has the Expressive that lean more on how a purchase affects customers and those around them.

With those laid down, how do you sell to them? The following are the bottom lines.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Emotions

Knowing how to deal with diverse customers is the basic of sealing a deal. By pleasing them despite their very different natures, you satisfy a golden rule in sales: making them happier. And that leads to better experiences. Basically, good customer service equals great customer experience.

For your part, flexibility is always welcome. With the multitude of people coming through the door, you’re bound to find yourself in a conversation with your potential client, and you’re expected to be able to cater to their personalities. Got an Assertive type? Cut to the chase, lay the down the facts, and don’t waste their time. Got the Socializer? Then by all means, socialize with them. Engage them in a friendly conversation and build that relationship.

In those ways, you can show them that you’re not taking a one-track-mind approach and considering only the profit of a sale. Make them feel that their trust and loyalty are the best things you can have.

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Aspirations

There are people who buy because of impulse, while there are those who carefully plan their expenses. Despite these—or perhaps because of these—sellers often don’t consider the far future and are only concentrated on the moment.

Rather than doing that, though, when you’re having a conversation with your potential buyer, cater to their present needs and show how your product can provide a “better” future. After that, maybe they can present an easier manner of how people around them work or a more efficient way of doing things just because of their simple purchase. By meeting that expectation, you enrich how people view themselves and give them the opportunity to do something good.

This subconscious aspiration to be respected—that sense and level of self-esteem—is always good to enrich because this is one way you get your clients to trust you.

Conclusion

Over the years and after many refinements in the art and techniques of selling, most people have their defenses up. They turn a deaf ear to blatant sales talks and a blind eye to obvious schemes. In short, don’t underestimate your potential clients.

People are more aware of the mind games, so these don’t work anymore. So, what do you do? Be human when you do your sales talk. Instead of putting up a wall between seller and buyer, do your best to connect with your customer. Being honest and genuine are traits most people look for in a relationship, so why don’t you start that chain? You’ve nothing to lose and much more to gain.

 

Resources:

Corbett, Barr. “The Best Sales Pitch Ever.” Fizzle. November 16. www.fizzle.co/sparkline/the-best-sales-pitch-ever

Dachis, Adam. “How to Plant Ideas in Someone’s Mind.” Lifehacker. October 21, 2014. www.lifehacker.com/5715912/how-to-plant-ideas-in-someones-mind

Segel, Rick. “4 Types of Customers and How to Sell to Each of Them.” Business Know-How. n.d. www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/personalities.htm

Ye, Leslie. “How to Sell to 4 Different Personality Types.” HubSpot. December 13, 2016. blog.hubspot.com/sales/how-to-sell-to-different-personality-types

“Mind Games: Can We Use Psychology to Grow Sales?” Pharmacy Magazine. July 31, 2015. www.frontshop.co.za/mind-games-can-we-use-psychology-to-grow-sales

“The Rule of Esteem – How Praise Releases Energy.” Westside Toastmasters. n.d. www.westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/laws_persuasion/chap12.html

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What Makes a Winning Investor Pitch Deck?

Whether your business is small or multinational, one thing will always be present. Barring the basic constants (employees, profits, losses, gains, etc.), in one way or another, you’ll always find yourself in a meeting room, giving or receiving a pitch. With the former, how well you do could spell the survivability or demise of your startup company or the guarantee of funds for your next big project. It doesn’t need saying, but a pitch is an important step toward success.

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This is why you’ll more likely fret over nailing your pitch the first time rather than wait for a redo. You’ve got the public speaking skill to charm your audiences, but of course, a good support will take you further. That support is your investor pitch deck. You’re already aware of what makes a PowerPoint presentation powerful. At this point, what you need to know is what makes your presentation—and by extension, your business—the winning choice.

Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | Notebook

Major Paradigm Shift

When technology advances as quickly as one can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the world changes as well. Take for instance the evolution of news material from the invention of the printing press to the few short years after online articles became a thing; today, print lags behind digital.

In the same way, figure out what paradigm shift is causing the problem you’re trying to solve. In Andy Raskin’s article, he says Zuora, a software company, has the “greatest sales deck” because they start off framing a change that not only arrests attention but also puts in perspective how the “shift affects [the audience], how it scares them, and where they see opportunities” all at once. During that fleeting moment, you hint where your pitch is going without saying it outright, but just enough to spark curiosity.

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Additionally, doing so nicely sets up the…

Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | Problem = Lower Morale

Problem

One thing that pitches always highlight is how a product works vis-à-vis a solution. “My/Our product can do this and that with these features and those upgrades. I/We believe it’s something that can help people.” There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, it’s basically a must. If you truly think your business is something that can be beneficial to your target market, or even society, then you would spill your heart out on why your interpretation of a solution is better. But a more general question to ask is, “How bad or big is the problem?”

Put as much flair and buildup into the problem you’re trying to solve as much as you do into your solution. This will give your possible investors a glimpse of, if not completely understand, how said challenge affects people on a larger scale, how your product addresses that, and even your motive and drive to continue working on your proposed solution. Doing so will put into context your enthusiasm during your pitch. It will then be more memorable, and they’ll realize you’re the correct choice.

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Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | Line and bar graph increasing

Data

Before you even started your business, you already researched extensively on your target demographic, logistics, and the many other particulars for your enterprise. Then you release your product, even if it’s an alpha or a beta demo, and gather your results. Keep those numbers and feedback in hand; you’ll need them just as much as the initial research because that’s what you wow your pitch audience with.

Figures give a more concrete achieve and set a more realistic standard than hypotheticals, especially when accompanied by testimonials from customers. Framing and hyping the climax of your pitch is a method of romancing the audience that makes them want more. When you’re done setting up the real numbers for a “hypothetical” product to get their hopes up, that’s when you take them by surprise (but not really, given that you’re pitching something to them) and introduce your…

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Crafting an Amazing Pitch Deck for Financial Engagements | the Solution

Solution

This is the first time they’re hearing about your actual product. All the data and testimonials you’ve thrown to your audience now have something to fall on—a kind of “a name to a face” logic. You already went all-out with your first few slides, so it’s time to let your proposed solution stand on its own. Don’t just focus on the features that people loved; show and tell what sets you apart from your competitors and why investors should pick you.

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Since this is the crux of your pitch, continue with the same level of eagerness you had in the first part as you go for the last stretch. Just because you’re ending doesn’t mean you can let up. If anything, a better conclusion results in a more powerful impact that can guarantee your cashflow and move to a brighter future.

Pitches shouldn’t be necessarily difficult, but when you consider the pressure you feel because of the supposed “life-or-death” outcome of either a small business or a project, the stakes become higher. Don’t let yourself buckle down because of the pressure though. Once you ace this, you’re on your way to more exciting prospects.

Remember what you need to focus on and emphasize on your deck. It’s about your company, your product, and your passion. You may be out looking for funds, but it’s only a step toward your larger goal: solving a problem you know society shouldn’t deal with.

 

Resources:

Chuang, Alex. “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Creating a Winning Pitch Deck.” Startup Grind. n.d. www.startupgrind.com/blog/the-quick-and-dirty-guide-to-creating-a-winning-pitch-deck

Eckler, Daniel. “How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder.” Medium. n.d. www.medium.com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272

Harroch, Richard. “How to Create a Great Investor Pitch Deck for Startups Seeking Financing.” Forbes. March 4, 2017. www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2017/03/04/how-to-create-a-great-investor-pitch-deck-for-startups-seeking-financing/#db6b7f62003e

Lee, Aaron. “30 Legendary Startup Pitch Decks and What You Can Learn from Them.” Piktochart. n.d. www.piktochart.com/blog/startup-pitch-decks-what-you-can-learn

Lenaerts, Sven. “10 Presentation Design Tips (for the Best Pitch Deck).” Envato Tuts+. May 25, 2016. business.tutsplus.com/tutorials/10-presentation-design-tips-for-the-best-pitch-deck–cms-24860

Raskin, Andy. “The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen.” The Mission. September 15, 2016. www.themission.co/the-greatest-sales-deck-ive-ever-seen-4f4ef3391ba0

Welton, Caysey. “Across Age Groups, Print Lags Far Behind Digital and TV as a News Source.” Folio: Magazine. June 21, 2016. www.foliomag.com/across-age-groups-print-lags-far-behind-digital-and-tv-as-a-news-source

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Using Humor During a Pitch

“Laughter is the best medicine.” It’s one of the many mantras funny people live by. That and “Laugh with people, not at them” are some of the better ways of looking at the best side of humor. While it unfortunately may not be for everyone (there are some very serious people out there), the sound of laughter is still pleasant to hear.

That simple, lighthearted reason is why it’s a good idea to incorporate humor and make people laugh during your presentation. You’re fostering a more welcoming atmosphere and making sure any tension is laughed away. In addition, you’re giving your audience members a good time by ensuring they don’t get bored while you talk.

It doesn’t mean that you must be a comedian—although there are a few pointers from their trade you could take lessons from. Humor can be strategically inserted into your speech or be present in your slides, like a funny image or a reference to pop culture. There are just a few reminders you must be mindful of.

Pitch Consideration #1: Relevance

Relevance

Recall what public speaking greats do before they get to their main point. A common technique is sharing a story, personal or otherwise. Another is telling a quote they hold close to their hearts. There are others, too, who crack jokes. A shared trait of all three methods is that they serve as an introduction and give the audience an idea and/or a stance on the subject of your speech.

Determine the topic of your quip and make sure that it is relevant to what you’re going to talk about. You don’t want an off-hand punchline that steers away your audience’s focus or doesn’t add anything to your point. It’s just like picking a quote or a story to start your speech with: you always connect it to your topic. The same treatment should be accorded to your jokes as well.

Pitch Consideration #2: Timing

Timing

Jokes have two parts: the setup and the punchline. Veteran comedians have mastered the technique of making their audiences wait for a few moments after building up the former and before saying the latter. The dramatic pause in between evokes a heightened sense of suspense and highlights the punchline. In much the same concept, use that similar sense of timing when you belt out your jests.

Showering your speech with too many jokes dilutes your message with unnecessary asides, making it difficult for your audience to sort through the extra information and get to the meat of your message. Time your jokes with breaks in your piece, like when transitioning to your next point or when you know that you just gave your audience an information overload. Take a breather with a few laughs—just like in life.

Pitch Consideration #3: Sensitivity

Sensitivity

As much as humor is not for everybody (as healthy as that may be), there are also types of jokes that don’t sit well with everybody. For instance, a recent study correlates dark humor appreciation with high IQ, but a speech is not the proper platform, time, or place since the former doesn’t sit well with everyone. In short, choose which kinds of jokes to dish out.

A good type is where you can poke fun at yourself lightly. Don’t be afraid to make yourself the butt of your own jokes. If anything, it shows the level of confidence you have for and about yourself. Don’t let another person be a victim of your own humor; it might be interpreted as a sign of insecurity because you need to put someone down for you to come out on top. It helps that you don’t attack or isolate anyone or put someone in an embarrassing spot, especially if said individual is well-known and/or influential. The safest victim of your jokes is yourself.

Humor is a trait not many people are blessed with but is almost vital in socialization, so studying about being funny and making the conscious effort—although not trying too hard—can be seen as a good thing. When your intent is to use jokes as a tool for a light mood, then you’re grasping the concept of humor nicely; employing it on something as serious as a pitch is always a welcome thought. Make your audience livelier with hilarity and enjoyment since, after all, laughter is the best medicine.

 

Resources:

Anderson, Gail Zack. “How to Use Humor in Your Next Presentation.” Business Communications. September 26, 2011. www.managementhelp.org/blogs/communications/2011/09/26/how-to-use-humor-in-your-next-presentation

Asher, Joey. “How to Inject Humor in Your Presentations.” Speechworks. n.d. www.speechworks.net/how-to-inject-humor-in-your-presentations

Barancik, Steve. “How to Use Humor Effectively in Speeches.” Write-Out-Loud.com. n.d. www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-use-humor-effectively.html

Brounstein, Marty and Malcolm Kushner. “How to Use Humor in You Presentation.” Dummies. n.d. www.dummies.com/careers/business-communication/public-speaking/how-to-use-humor-in-your-presentation

Doward, Jamie. “Black Humour Is Sign of High Intelligence, Study Suggests.” The Guardian. January 29, 2017. www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jan/29/dark-humour-high-intelligence-study

Marshall, Lisa B. “How to Make People Laugh During Presentations.” Quick and Dirty Tips. January 1, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/how-to-make-people-laugh-during-presentations

Pain, Elisabeth. “Slipping Humor into Scientific Presentations.” Science Magazine. April 1, 2011. www.sciencemag.org/careers/2011/04/slipping-humor-scientific-presentations

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How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation

A speaker standing still throughout a presentation is dull to watch. The audience may not relate with your message if you don’t show enough interest in delivering it. In the same way, if you move excessively onstage, you may risk distracting your viewers from the content of your presentation. Exaggerated and unnecessary movements only make you look like you’re trying too hard. You should know how to carry yourself under the limelight. Smoothly transition from one point to another using fluid movements.

The Power of Body Language

Dynamic speakers maximize their stage presence by moving around and owning the stage. They also use appropriate body movements that help accentuate their point. Moving purposely and naturally will give you an opportunity to foster a bond with your audience. Being dynamic onstage will endear you to your audience and help you win their attention and favor.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Captivate Interest

Captivate Interest

A compelling speech and a well-designed PowerPoint deck will only win you half the battle. Ultimately, the success of your presentation lies on how well you deliver it. What’s a good content if it can’t be understood by the audience? When stressing an idea, match your words with the proper gesture and non-verbal cue. Use appropriate body language so as to stress your message. Remember, content, design, and delivery work hand in hand. You need to put equal emphasis on all three for your presentation to be successful.

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Stimulate Emotions

Stimulate Emotions

Certain body movements are so engaging that you can use them to invite your listeners to join in the conversation. You can make your presentation feel like a dialogue rather than a monologue by simply putting a variation in your movements. The more you make your audience feel included, the more you can build rapport with them. Once you have that connection, your audience will be more likely to remember your message and share it to others. 

How Stage Presence Can Boost Your Presentation: Highlight Transitions

Highlight Transitions

When you’re relating a narrative that involves occurrences from the past and present and some hopes or predictions for the future, you can move around the stage to establish the transitions between them. For instance, you can start ambling to one side of the platform to communicate that you’re talking about the past. Then, you can walk to the other side to show a change of perspective. Your audience will get a hint that you’re now talking about the present. Finally, when you return to the center, your audience will know that you’re moving on to future events. Needless to say, you need to make these transitions look and feel natural. Draw a pattern in your movements, but make sure the audience won’t detect it. 

Move with Meaning

Now that you know how important body language is when delivering a presentation, you’re probably wondering how you can use it to your advantage. There’s only one sure way to master this skill: REHEARSE. As ironic as it sounds, rehearsing your movements onstage will help you carry and deliver them with grace. Practice until your non-verbal expressions look seamless and natural. Moving with purpose and meaning will make you look confident onstage. But more important than this, it can make your audience feel more engaged and included. Make sure not to forego an impactful body language.

 

Resources:

Galarza, Erin. “Public Speaking: Developing Stage Presence.” Percolate. February 25, 2015. blog.percolate.com/2015/02/public-speaking-developing-stage-presence

Gallo, Carmine. “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.” Presensatie. 2010. www.presensatie.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Presentation-Secrets-Of-Steve-Jobs.pdf

Genard, Gary. “The 5 Key Body Language Techniques of Public Speaking.” Genard Method. May 31, 2015. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/144247/The-5-Key-Body-Language-Techniques-of-Public-Speaking

Young, Graham. “To Move or Not to Move When Presenting.” Young Markets. October 10, 2012. youngmarkets.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/to-move-or-not-to-move-when-presenting

“Gestures: Your Body Speaks.” Toastmasters International. June 2011. web.mst.edu/~toast/docs/Gestures.pdf

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Why Listening Is the Most Important Communication Skill

When was the last time you had a decent conversation? While some say that communication is “talking to” people, others would argue that a simple change of preposition can mean a world of difference between one-sided ranting and healthy dialogue. Try “talking with.”

Hearing and listening, as is often said, are not the same. A common difference in definition is that the former means your ear takes in the information. Scientifically put, it’s the physical phenomenon of vibrations in the air reaching your eardrums; thus, you hear many things, like the whistle of the breeze, the roaring of engines, or footsteps and claps. Meanwhile, the latter is more than just hearing; you also heed and keep in mind what the other is saying, taking in the details and assessing and analyzing their thoughts. When you get the facts straight, you can answer with and/or add your own insights—and eventually, an exchange of ideas. This, then, is discourse, a conversation.

No matter the setting, be it a business meeting, negotiation, personal relationship, etc., listening precipitates proper understanding. While the act may seem simple, don’t underestimate the power of distractions. It could be the sound of a TV or a radio in the background or the whispering hum of a nearby motorcycle. It could be anything that takes your attention away from the one you’re listening to. Even your own thoughts can be a disturbance.

Communication is not a one-way street; you must do you own part too. Foster better conversations by listening because it…

Communication Skill 101: Encourages Open-Mindedness

Encourages Open-Mindedness

Sure, you’re an individual with your own thoughts, judgments, and biases (which, in perspective, isn’t inherently wrong or bad since it’s human nature). But shutting your mind to your own prejudices is a surefire way to close yourself off from the point and mindset of the person you’re talking with. Worse is that you will only spiral down to the mentality that you have a solution you can’t keep inside and interrupt them so that you could speak. This is a very rude gesture. Avoid it at all costs.

Instead, be openminded and receive with no preconceptions or assumptions. If it helps, try thinking of yourself as a blank slate, and everything you hear and listen to is carved onto you. It’s a different take on empathy, but it helps you be in the speaker’s shoes. It helps you connect and relate. And that’s when the magic begins.

Helps Understand

When you keep an open mind, you learn more about the situation and/or the person you’re talking with. You mentally process the information and analyze the details as they come. You don’t jump to conclusions; rather, you are guided by the information you received as you fit the pieces of the puzzle.

Seek to understand. By listening intently, you open yourself up to see what they see and feel what they feel. It’s more than empathy (but it does play an integral part). It’s also about creating a deeper connection and relationship with the person you’re talking with. Since there are no shortcuts to strengthening bonds, listening to understand is a good place to start.

Communication Skill 101: Allows for Better Responses

Allows for Better Responses

When everything has been said, you take things into consideration, be it the problem and its circumstances or the task at hand and its instructions. Knowing what the other party knows and feels about the whole matter makes responding easier and more natural, especially when it deeply affects them.

Because you listened, you have more insight on the stance of the person you’re talking with. You get to see deep into their minds and their thought processes. Then you come up with your responses and add to—or counter (but not argue about)—what they said.

There’s no more dancing around the issue, no more sugarcoating, and no more stepping on anyone’s toes. Listening makes you completely aware and sensitive of your partner and how they respond back to you, and that level of mindfulness goes a long way.

Deepens Bonds

Humans are social creatures. If you have no one to socialize with, you’ll most likely crave talking to anyone or anything—even a volleyball. People feel joy in being with others. Even the mere presence of someone satisfies the neocortex, the part of the human brain comprised of sections involved in social cognition.

This is the foundation of communication: the need to interact with others, be it casual storytelling, heavy rant sessions, or business meetings. Listening shows you’re not just there to talk and socialize; it gives people the comfort and security that what they say is heard, understood, and taken to mind and heart. That puts them at ease, and the trust slowly builds and/or strengthened. You know more about them, and they get to know more about you.

Of course, you’re not the only one who should listen. Ideally, communication is a two-way street. When you’re the one talking, the other should focus on you and on what you’re saying and vice versa. This is common courtesy. There are more rude gestures than interrupting one when speaking, like imposing your unsolicited solution.

A cornerstone of any great relationship is communication. The better the communication, the more lasting the bond. Don’t waste a good one just because you feel the need to talk over the person you’re speaking with. Instead, let it be a proper conversation. Listen, then talk. Talk, then listen. It’s about the giving and taking.

 

Resources:

Bush, Mirabai. “Why Listening Is the Most Radical Act.” Mindful. January 31, 2017. www.mindful.org/why-listening-is-the-most-radical-act

Feintuch, Stacey. “9 Things All Good Listeners Do During Daily Conversations.” Reader’s Digest. n.d. www.rd.com/advice/relationships/how-to-listen

Foster, Nancy. “Good Communication Starts with Listening.” Mediate.com. n.d. www.mediate.com/articles/foster2.cfm

Hellesvig-Gaskell, Karen. “The Difference Between Hearing & Listening Skills.” Livestrong.com. April 16, 2015. www.livestrong.com/article/83661-difference-between-hearing-listening

Roua, Dragos. “After I Read This, I Started to Speak Less and Listen More…” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/6-benefits-speaking-less-and-listening-more.html

Schilling, Diane. “10 Steps to Effective Listening.” Forbes. November 9, 2012. www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/#12e324f73891

Verstraete, Mary. “What Is the Most Important Communication Skill to Acquire?” Center for Coaching Excellence. n.d. www.centerforcoachingexcellence.com/blog/the-most-important-skill-to-building-trust

Vrticka, Pascal. “Evolution of the ‘Social Brain’ in Humans: What Are the Benefits and Costs of Belonging to a Social Species?” The Huffington Post. November 16, 2013. www.huffingtonpost.com/pascal-vrticka/human-social-development_b_3921942.html

“Listening Skills.” Skills You Need. n.d. www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html

“The Importance of Listening.” Boundless.com. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/learning-to-listen-and-helping-others-do-the-same-5/understanding-listening-29/the-importance-of-listening-132-8285

“The Importance of Listening, and Ways to Improve Your Own Skills.” Udemy Blog. December 13, 2013. blog.udemy.com/importance-of-listening

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WWE and Marketing: Exploring the Common Ground Between

Pro wrestling fans are everywhere. They’re prolific on social media, where they talk incessantly about their shared interest in sports entertainment. This community of fans is among the most unique and united in the world. In fact, the bigger part of them call themselves the “WWE Universe.”

World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE. It’s a name every digital native has heard before, regardless of race, social status, or personal preferences. Kicking off as a gimmicky show in the 1950s, the WWE is now regarded as an entertainment giant. It’s a billion-dollar industry with $700 million in annual revenue and fans in 180 countries. The company delivers content 52 weeks a year in 25 languages to almost 650 million homes worldwide. Indeed, no one can ignore the WWE’s encompassing reach. Its influence is so strong that the pro wrestling industry is equated with it.

As an entertainment powerhouse, the WWE has transcended generations. It has certainly left an indelible mark on pop culture. To many, it’s more than just a brand but a way of life.

Marketing Lessons from the Squared Circle: Storytelling

Marketing Lessons from the Squared Circle

What many businesspeople don’t realize is that some marketing lessons can be found in the unlikeliest of places. We’re talking about the wrestling ring. Brands who want to be as successful as the WWE should follow its footsteps by using progressive marketing tactics and public relations strategies.

By looking at the pro wrestling industry from a marketing perspective, you’ll uncover secrets that you can apply to your business. Here are some of them:

1. Storytelling must sit at your brand’s core.

The WWE calls itself “sports entertainment,” so it’s not really a legitimate sport. All matches are driven by predetermined storylines, and most of what happens inside the ring are choreographed. The business relies heavily on developing great personas and crafting winning storylines. In essence, the squared circle is where athletics marries theatrics.

Since storytelling lies at the core of the WWE, they market each superstar’s brand individually. Everyone gets his or her own entrance music, ring gear, signature pose, signature moves, and even a unique moniker. For example, when Bray Wyatt makes his entrance, people take out their flashlights and wave them through the air. When AJ Styles performs, fans pray for an Ushigoroshi. If none of this makes sense so far, perhaps you’d be familiar with John Cena, the grown-up man famous for his denim shorts, or The Undertaker, who’s always menacing in his Dead-Man costume.

But how exactly does this translate to your business? It’s simple: tell an authentic story that will make your audience care about your product. Give meaning to everything you do so that your audience will have a reason to invest emotionally in your brand. The only way to differentiate yourself from competition is to constantly bring something fresh to the table.

Marketing Lessons from WWE: Audience Dictates What Comes Next

2. The audience dictates what comes next.

What the WWE has that you should have too are data-driven storytellers. The company listens to fans to determine what to do next. As WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon said, “Our fans are the secret to our success. They tell us what they like by cheering; they tell us what they don’t like by booing; and worse, they tell us what they don’t care about by being silent.”

The WWE conducts extensive analyses to determine what appeals to their target market. They use quantifiable means of measurement to construct portraits of fans based on variables. You should do the same in your business. Gauge your audience’s sentiments so you can provide relevant content. Know what makes them tick so you can please or surprise them at will.

3. Digital media is the king of communication.

The WWE’s social media team is composed of only ten people, but that doesn’t hinder them from performing at the top of their game. In fact, the WWE garnered three Shorty Awards in 2014 for its innovative use of social media, YouTube content, and mobile apps. Podcasts are also a good form of content to promote the WWE brand, and so are YouTube videos. However, what really pushed the company to the top is its own streaming service, the WWE network. Reaching over a million subscribers in under a year, the network has inflated WWE’s international popularity.

So, what’s in this for you? As you know, social media is a must for all brands. You can use different digital platforms to appeal to your audience’s emotional side. Provide sneak peeks into behind-the-scene actions, and give your followers something to hold on to. Interact with them the way you would with a friend. Also, try to create a medium of your own—a company blog, for instance—to cultivate a loyal customer base.

Marketing Lessons from WWE: Adapt to the Changing Times

4. Adapt to the changing times.

If there’s one thing the WWE got right, it’s that they constantly evolved with the times. One of the most important decisions they made was the improvement in the portrayal of women. Until recently, female wrestlers or “divas” were considered accessories—no one took them seriously. When the Four Horsewomen came, however, women’s wrestling was revolutionized forever. Instead of “divas,” female wrestlers are now called “superstars,” like their male counterparts.

Another progress they made was the blurring of the lines between kayfabe (i.e. the fiction that happens in the ring) and shoot (i.e. reality). Before, it was considered a sin to break kayfabe, but today, the injection of reality in storylines makes the turn of events more interesting. Fans love the gray area where reality meets fiction.

The WWE’s adaptive nature enabled it to reach audiences outside its demographic. From a majority of male audience, the company’s viewership has now grown to include kids, females, and non-sports fans. Its versatility opened huge opportunities for mainstream sponsorship deals and merchandise sales.

So, what has this got to do with your brand? Obviously, you can take this lesson of versatility and apply it to your business. You can’t keep playing the game unless you constantly find ways to be relevant. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. Don’t stop until you succeed.

5. Nothing sells better than passion.

WWE superstars are just people living their dreams every day. For most of them, pro wrestling is life. They joined the WWE because they were fans as kids. You’ll rarely see a lifeless superstar in the ring—everyone shows charisma in his or her work.

A notable superstar who has entertained the crowd for the last eight years is Naomi. Like others before her, she has given her sweat and blood for the business. When she won her first WWE title in 2017, the crowd erupted into chants of, “You deserve it!” When she had to relinquish it only nine days later due to injury, the crowd again erupted into a reverberating, “No!” The WWE Universe empathized with Naomi because she was a passionate and talented worker. It was what gave her story a genuine touch.

Like the WWE superstars, your brand should exude charisma in every possible way. You should communicate a certain energy to your audience—an infectious aura that will draw them closer to you. Remember, if all else fails, passion will carry you through.

In today’s business environment, brands are constantly wrestling for attention. In order to thrive in your industry, you must look for new ways to keep your title. Look for inspiration in unexpected places, and you might just find true gems that will make you an undisputed champion in your field.

 

Resources:

Cooper, Lana. “4 Lessons Digital Marketers Can Learn from WWE.” Seer Interactive. August 21, 2015. www.seerinteractive.com/blog/4-lessons-digital-marketers-can-learn-wwe

Evans, Zachary. “How the WWE Has Retained Its Marketing Dominance.” Spin Sucks. August 1, 2016. spinsucks.com/marketing/wwe-retained-marketing-dominance

“Company Overview.” WWE Corporate. n.d. corporate.wwe.com/who-we-are/company-overview

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Can Hosting a Webinar Expand Your Audience?

Today’s business climate makes it more challenging to gain business leads. Competition is tight, so brands should up their game to survive. If you want to stay at the top, you should learn how to keep liabilities at the minimum and make the most of your assets.

Phone marketing was the norm before, but today, digital marketing is king. Businesses leverage online resources like social media, blogs, visual content, and what is probably the least known of all marketing channels: webinars. The rise of digital marketing has paved the way for businesses to do more without spending more. Make sure you use this advantage comprehensively.

Webinar Tips: Primary Goals and Purposes

Webinar 101: Primary Goals and Purposes

A webinar is a live meeting that takes place over the web. Obviously, it’s a portmanteau that blends the words “web” and “seminar.” According to webinar expert Marta Eichstaedt, when webinars are used as marketing tools, they typically last between thirty minutes to a full hour. This length already takes into account the spontaneous interaction between the host and the audience.

There are many reasons why marketers include webinars in their business efforts. The following are the three most important.

  • To educate customers. According to ClickMeeting, 85% of webinars are designed to educate existing and potential clients. If there’s one thing webinars should do, it’s to offer a novel perspective. They ought to satiate people’s desire to learn new things. Webinars are also a tool for businesses to solidify their credibility and establish themselves as experts in the field.
  • To promote brand awareness. The more successful your webinar is, the more people will learn about it. The louder the noise it makes, the more people will check it out. Hosting a webinar can expand your audience reach every time you bring something fresh and interesting to the table.
  • To generate new business leads. The same infographic by ClickMeeting claimed that 77% of webinars are designed to attract new leads. With a successful webinar, you can reach more business prospects and cultivate them through the sales process.

Webinar Tips: The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The perks of hosting a webinar abound—that’s why businesses can’t get enough of it. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from using this marketing tool to your advantage:

    • Save on costs. No matter how big your company is, you still need to use your resources wisely. Webinars are a good investment because they don’t cost much. All you need is a stable internet connection to hold one and a few active online platforms to promote it.
    • Maximize time. Unlike in physical events like seminars or conferences, you don’t need months or weeks to prepare for a webinar. A few days of preparation would suffice. You can also save time from traveling since you can conduct a webinar from the comforts of your home or office. 
    • Repurpose content. Webinars are versatile tools for marketing. You can turn them into webcasts once the event is over. You can also repurpose webinar content into a blog post or website copy. If you’re able to record your sessions, you can keep them in your knowledgebase for future reference.
    • Eliminate physical barriers. One of the conveniences of hosting a webinar is that anyone can participate in it, regardless of location or time zone. Speakers are also free to interact with participants through real-time polls and chat boxes.
    • Get feedback. You can immediately gauge the success of your webinar by sending out a survey to the participants. The feedback can clue you in as to the strengths and weaknesses of your event.

Webinar Tips: Preparing for a Webinar | Signup Form

Preparing for a Webinar

Before hosting a webinar, you need to find out first if there’s a demand for it. Conduct a survey in your audience circle, and find out if enough people are interested to join your session. Once you’re sure that the audience likes this format, proceed to the preparation phase.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Craft the content. Kick off by briefly introducing yourself, the other speakers or panelists, and the companies involved. Tell the audience about the topic you’re going to tackle, and give them a preview of what’s going to happen. You should be able to grab their attention during the first few minutes. In the body of your content, present a maximum of three ideas that you can expound on. Finally, finish off with a memorable statement, a call to action, and a courtesy message for the participants.
  • Set the time and duration. Find out what works best for your attendees. If you have foreign prospects, make sure that you find a common time that’s convenient for them and for the local participants.
  • Determine the panelists. Invite someone who can communicate the message best. You can collaborate with other brands to add greater value to your webinar. Have someone who is familiar with your content and who can help keep your presentation flowing smoothly. 
  • Prepare your tools. Obviously, you need technology to set up your event. Find a platform that can host your webinar, and make sure that your Internet connection is reliable enough to stream it. It’s also important to get a good phone headset, ideally a cordless one, so that you can stand up and move while talking. 
  • Create a landing page. Make sure it has sufficient details about the webinar to make the prospects excited about signing up. Include a registration form that requests information from your attendees. The most important fields are the name and e-mail address. You can also ask for the company they’re affiliated with. Any more than these three can make your prospects less likely to sign up.

The Takeaway

Once you’ve hosted your own webinar, you’ll understand why it’s considered by many businesses as an effective customer acquisition channel. Explore the wonders of this tool and discover how it can propel your business to success.

 

Resources:

Howes, Lewis. “8 Ways to Boost Your Business with Webinars.” Lewis Howes. n.d. lewishowes.com/webinars/webinar-marketing-tips-and-resources

Jozwiak, Agnes. “World Wide Webinars: New Infographic.” ClickMeeting. March 23, 2012. blog.clickmeeting.com/world-wide-webinars-new-infographic

MacDonald, Steven. “How to Successfully Host a Webinar and Build Your Audience.” E-Marketeer. August 19, 2014. www.emarketeer.com/blog/successfully-host-webinar-build-audience

Moreau, Elise. “What Is a Webinar?” Lifewire. April 6, 2016. www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-webinar-3486257

Russer, Michael. “Expand Your Reach with Webinars.” Realtor Mag. July 2009. realtormag.realtor.org/technology/mr-internet/article/2009/07/expand-your-reach-webinars

Slyman, Natalie. “How to Hold an Effective Webinar an Generate Leads for Your Business.” Influence & Co. December 6, 2016. blog.influenceandco.com/how-to-hold-an-effective-webinar-and-generate-leads-for-your-business

Wasielewski, Jarek. “How Webinars Expand Reach to Your Target Audience in Online Marketing.” ClickMeeting. September 12, 2014. blog.clickmeeting.com/webinars-expand-reach-target-audience-online-marketing

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6 Ways to Effectively Communicate Ideas at Work

That brilliant idea you have which can affect positive change in the workplace is largely useless until you communicate it to someone who can bring it to life. However, pitching an idea to a colleague is easier said than done. It’s not easy to explain a concept to someone who has a different background. You’ll need to bridge a knowledge chasm that separates you from your intended recipient. You also have to watch your manner of speaking since you can’t afford to insult your recipient with the faintest hint of condescension. In the same way, you can’t be too naïve to assume that the other person is on the same page as you.

Presenting an idea to a coworker, whether it be a superior or an equal, is always a risk. There’s a possibility of your proposal getting turned down, or worse, ignored. This is why you need to be fully prepared before making your business pitch. Make sure you possess not only flair and poise but also valuable content—a worthwhile idea that can sell itself. Keep in mind what Dorothy Tannahill Moran from Next Chapter New Life, said: “There is a difference between a great idea and an idea that will truly advance the cause of business.”

Know the Recipient's Hot Buttons

Know the Recipient’s Hot Buttons

People have different ways of processing information. Some learn best with visuals while others prefer one-on-one talks. Others are still more comfortable with written exchanges. Conduct a research that will allow you to learn what’s best for your audience. You should possess a heightened sense of contextual awareness if you are to thoroughly understand your recipients. Be astute in sensing their moods, values, and attitudes. Develop a contingency plan that will allow you to align your objectives with theirs. After all, the pitch is not for you but for the company as a whole. 

Direct and Concise Pitch

Make Your Pitch Direct and Concise

Trim the fat from your pitch and go straight to the point. Don’t bore your recipient with unnecessary details. Instead, stick to what your idea will do for them and the organization. “Managers want solutions to the problems that are keeping them awake at night,” said Leigh Steere from Managing People Better. He couldn’t have said a truer statement. When delivering your pitch, make sure to keep the buzz words out. Cut to the chase before your recipient tunes out from your smooth talking. Remember, substance should always come before form.  

Gain the Recipient's Trust and Confidence

Gain the Recipient’s Trust and Confidence

People don’t usually open up to those they don’t trust, so you should try to gain your audience’s confidence before asking them to accept your idea. You can gain your recipient’s trust by displaying a level of authenticity and transparency. Be relatable when delivering your pitch by telling stories, using examples, and applying humor in appropriate situations. Speak to your recipient’s emotions, and let your message take deep root with them. Engage in a meaningful conversation by encouraging a dialogue. Surely, you can learn from them as much as they can learn from you. 

Assert Yourself and Speak With Tenacity

Assert Yourself and Speak with Tenacity

When speaking with superiors and senior colleagues, you should talk and act like they do. Treating them like peers will encourage them to do the same to you. Respect their authority and position, but don’t be deferential and submissive. Show them that you’re thinking in the same level as they are. This will give them the impression that you can stand by your idea and defend it when the need arises.

Prepare and Practice Diligently

Prepare and Practice Diligently

No matter how great your idea is, if you don’t practice how to deliver it, your pitch will likely prove unsuccessful. To maximize your chances, have someone to practice your pitch on. This person should have a total lack of knowledge regarding your idea. He or she should also be willing to provide you with honest feedback. You can practice your pitch on more than one person to take more perspectives. Presenting your pitch to a test audience will help you pinpoint the aspects of your presentation that need improvement. If the test audience understands and approves of your idea and the manner by which you present it, you’ll know that you’re starting off on the right foot. 

Find the Right Time to Make Your Pitch

Find the Right Time to Make Your Pitch

Let’s say you’re ready with your pitch. You have a cutting-edge idea and an innovative way of presenting it. The only concern that remains now is, when is the right time to deliver your pitch? There isn’t one answer to this question since every circumstance is different. You’re on your own to assess whether your recipient is ready to participate in your presentation. Perhaps Tannahill Moran’s words can help you. She said, “If the house is on fire, a new idea tossed into the mix may not go over well unless the idea helps the immediate crisis. You want to present an idea when the ability to focus and plan exists.”

The Aftermath: How to Brace Yourself for Responses

The Aftermath: How to Brace Yourself for Responses

Prepare yourself for the many kinds of responses you may receive. There’s a high possibility that your recipient will pepper you with questions to test your thinking. Think two steps ahead and formulate a response to every possible concern. When you’re faced with antagonism, keep an open mind. A dissenting opinion can help you improve on your idea. If, however, your pitch is ignored, follow up until you get an answer—just do so in a non-imposing way. After all, your audience don’t owe you their participation. It’s up to you to get them engaged.

You might only have one shot at presenting your newfangled idea. Make sure you put your best foot forward and deliver a pitch that is worthy of your recipient’s time.

 

Resources:

Baxter, Susan. “Learning Styles: Three Ways to Process Information.” Top Ten Reviews. n.d. www.toptenreviews.com/software/articles/learning-styles-three-ways-to-process-information

Boitnott, John. “How to Pitch Your Brilliant Idea Without Making the People You Need Feel Stupid.” Entrepreneur. October 10, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/238176

Bonilla, Christina. “Want to Be Taken Seriously? Communicate Like a Boss.” Smart Like How. October 13, 2015. www.smartlikehow.com/blog-native/2015/10/12/l0d6fzogavxj6p72p0yucsuzvdpd9w

Cohan, Peter. “5 Ways to Communicate More Clearly.” Inc. December 4, 2012. www.inc.com/peter-cohan/five-ways-to-improve-your-communication-success.html

Edinger, Scott. “If You Want to Communicate Better, Read This.” Forbes. March 20, 2013. www.forbes.com/sites/scottedinger/2013/03/20/if-you-want-to-communicate-better-read-this/#59a3132b2281

Groth, Aimee & Lockhart, Jhaneel. “7 Smart Ways to Come Up with More Ideas at Work.” Business Insider. January 21, 2012. www.businessinsider.com/7-smart-ways-to-come-up-with-more-ideas-at-work-2012-1

Herrity, Joseph P. “Communicating Ideas Effectively.” Preferred Visions. n.d. preferredvisions.com/publications/thought-provokers/communicating-ideas-effectively

Madden, Kaitlin. “Have a Great Idea? How to Tell Your Boss.” CNN. March 16, 2011. edition.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/03/16/cb.tell.boss.good.idea

Myatt, Mike. “10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders.” Forbes. April 4, 2012. www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/04/04/10-communication-secrets-of-great-leaders/#1b42d2021e06

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Presentation Tips to Counterpunch Your Nerves

For people who are not gifted with natural eloquence, public speaking can be a daunting experience. Darlene Price, president of the award-winning coaching company, Well Said Inc., summed it up well when she said, “Though statistics vary on the exact percentages, it’s safe to say most of us get nervous before a public speaking engagement. As a speaker facing an audience, we often fear failure, criticism, judgment, embarrassment, comparison, or rejection.”

And indeed, all this fear, all this negative reaction, is only natural. Even the most experienced speakers tremble before delivering their opening salvo. This is why you should go against the general notion of tackling  fear for the purpose of eradicating it. Instead, what you should do is conquer it by controlling it to your own advantage. Managing your fear is the only way to connect with your audience.

After all, spectators don’t really see how you feel. They only see how you carry yourself onstage. So, it’s okay to be afraid, as long as you don’t show it to anyone. When all’s said and done, a presentation is not really about what you say but how you say it.

Positive Visualization

The Dramatic Pull of Positive Visualization

To turn your jitters into positive energy, you should pump yourself up before a presentation. Boost your enthusiasm by imagining a positive outcome to the speaking engagement. Mentally walk yourself through your speech, and picture yourself acting with confidence, flair, and poise. You’re a presentation guru, and the audience enjoy watching and listening to you.

Positive visualization is healthy and effective. The more you envision something in a good way, the better it will play out in reality. Just take in mind the American industrialist Henry Ford’s famous quote, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Above all else, smile. Smiling can help calm your nerves and lower your anxiety. It increases your body’s supply of endorphins, the chemicals responsible for lowering stress levels. When you smile, you exude confidence, which your audience will interpret as a sign of enthusiasm towards your speech.

Familiarity Breeds Confidence

How Familiarity Breeds Confidence

Don’t take chances with your presentation by delivering it once and for all. You have to practice it multiple times before the actual event. Rehearse your lines in various positions until you grow comfortable with them. If necessary, record your presentation and watch it afterwards. This will help you see which bad habits to grow out of.

Know your presentation by heart, but don’t memorize it word by word—unless, of course, you’ll be delivering your presentation at TED. Just the opening and closing lines of your talk are enough. Learn your first and last statements so they’ll come to you naturally.

Practicing will help you gain a certain amount of control over the situation. The more certain you are about your talk, the less nervous you’ll be about it. By rehearsing your presentation beforehand, you can focus your nervous energy on something more productive.

Surroundings as a Teacher

What Your Surroundings Will Teach You

Give yourself ample time to be familiar with the venue. Arrive at least a day early so you can thoroughly assess the setup. Check if there are any elements in the surroundings that may distract you from your presentation. Test the equipment you’re going to use to minimize the possibility of technical difficulties arising later on. Practice delivering your talk in the venue, too, to familiarize yourself even more with the entire affair.

If your speech is part of a series, you should listen to other talks. Do it as a courtesy to your fellow speakers, and also to learn more about the spectators. By attending the other presentations, you’ll be able to gauge the general mood of the audience. You can assess whether they’ll appreciate humor or straight facts. This will help you tailor your presentation to their needs and preferences.

On the day of your speech, make sure to attend the meet-and-greet ceremony. Speaking with representatives from the audience will help you understand them more genuinely. As public speaking coach Ian Cunliffe advised, “Arrive early and talk to a few individual audience members about their needs. That way, you’ll have insider information and friendly faces that you can focus on when you take the stage.” Darlene Price held the same opinion. She said, “Conversation helps relax your nerves, creates a bond with your audience, and sets the stage for personable speaking versus public speaking.”

Power Stance

Power Stance and Other Endorphin Boosters

Warm yourself up before taking the floor. To calm your nerves, practice deep breathing, a method that will flood your brain with oxygen. Your muscles will relax and you’ll regain composure. Moving around and assuming a power stance will also help you create a lasting sense of confidence.

Before stepping into the platform, make sure you are properly hydrated. Dry mouth can sometimes be a cause of anxiety. Drink plenty of water before going onstage, and keep a bottle of liquid within arm’s reach in case your mouth dries up in the middle of your talk. Finally, make sure to take a bathroom break before your performance.

Presentation Mantra

The Mantra You Should Adopt

Repeat some words of encouragement before heading to the spotlight. Your mantra should be: “I’m the expert in the room. The audience trust and believe in me, and they want me to succeed. I will go out there and deliver with confidence and conviction.”

As body language expert Mark Bowden said, presentations are not really about the facts and the data. “When we go live in front of an audience, it’s about the event, the personality, the relationship, and trust.” Kill it with your confidence. Bring home the gold with your poise and enthusiasm.

 

Resources:

Genard, Gary. “How to Use Positive Thinking to Speak More Successfully.” Genard Method. June 26, 2016. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/176604/How-to-Use-Positive-Thinking-to-Speak-More-Successfully

Heaps, Mark. “Stop that Stutter: 6 Steps to Overcome Presentation Performance Anxiety.” Duarte. December 19, 2012. www.duarte.com/blog/stop-that-stutter-6-steps-to-overcome-presentation-performance-anxiety

Kim, Larry. “15 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation.” Inc. October 20, 2014. www.inc.com/larry-kim/15-power-up-tips-to-make-you-a-better-presenter.html

Kleiman, Karen. “Try Some Smile Therapy.” Psychology Today. August 1, 2012. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201207/try-some-smile-therapy

Smith, Jacquelyn. “11 Tips for Calming Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation.” Business Insider. June 23, 2014. www.businessinsider.com/tips-for-calming-nerves-before-a-speech-2014-6

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