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Spending the First 3 Minutes of Business Presentations

Your overall presentation depends on your introduction.

Before you proceed to your actual content, keep in mind that the first three minutes are crucial: your introduction can either connect or distance you from your audience.

The message you want to convey can be affected if your opening can’t catch their attention.

Develop a Sense of Belonging

Create a sense of belonging among your audience.

Don’t alienate them with jargon-filled rambling or stiff delivery. Encourage them to warm up to you by creating a relatable image. Tell a story to ease any lingering tension, or start with a quote or anecdote that’s directly related to your pitch.

Let these be the takeaways to your main points. Intimidating the audience with an austere environment will only push them farther away from you.

Develop a catchy and memorable introduction to get their attention before you discuss the content.

Establish Eye Contact

Looking directly at your audience gives them the impression that you’re interested.

Separating yourself from other people through not only your speech, but also your body language, is not only suspicious but also makes you look like an unreliable source. Commanding attention means connecting with your listeners not only through speech but in your physical presence as well.

Glancing at them one by one is not necessary, but least building and maintaining eye contact is important. This builds rapport.

Answer the Audience’s Hidden Questions

Why am I here?

Maximize the first three minutes of your business presentations by including the benefits that your listeners can get from your subject.

Briefly mention the most important points to give them an overview of your core message. Your purpose is to give them reasons to listen and take actions, not just to sit for nothing.

Some members might not notice that they have these questions in their head, but the best way to address this is to practice all the above reminders. If you answer their questions positively, you’ll achieve their expectations.

Tell a Story

Nothing beats the power of storytelling.

Aside from the actual content, you can structure your content with a definite hook, line, and sinker. Since we’re still discussing the introduction, use it to build up the meat of your discussion. Pique your audience’s interests with something that they can relate to and leave them wanting more.

Personal stories will help ground you in people’s eyes, and make them more inclined to listen to you. Don’t be afraid to let your human side show in front of them in the form of these stories. People are more inclined to listen to someone who understands them, so make them feel that in your opener.

Applying these tips will help you get over your anxiety of not making a good impression.

Your goal is to entice your audience with a powerful and striking introduction. If you fail to do this, you’ll have a harder time making them listen to the rest of your presentation. Make those first three minutes count.

References:

How to Take Tough Questions Like a Presentation Expert.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 16, 2015.
Fine-tuning Your Presentation’s Core Message.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 11, 2014. Accessed May 6, 2015.
The First 3 Minutes – How to Quickly Connect with Your Live Audience.” Appirio. April 29, 2014. Accessed May 6, 2015.

Engage a Disinterested Audience Like a Presentation Expert

Sometimes, a well-designed presentation isn’t enough to engage a disinterested crowd.

Your speech’s success still depends on how well you command interest. By exuding confidence and credibility, how you look and carry yourself will leverage your power to convince.

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Looking your best is your top priority, but you also have to avoid distracting or making your listeners tune out. Here are five simple ways you can keep their attention like a presentation expert:

Dress for the Part

Even before you utter a word, your listeners judge you based on what you wear. The right clothes highlight your competence and integrity, while inappropriate fashion choices might divert the attention from your speech or discard your credibility.

Don’t wear distracting clothes with bright neon colors and conspicuous patterns. Stick to neutral and pastel colors, and lean towards shirts with solid colors.

Make sure brand logos are unobtrusive, as they draw unnecessary attention.

Always gauge the level of formality required of an event and dress appropriately. Wearing a tuxedo to a simple sales pitch is unnecessary, while wearing a bikini to a conference is highly inappropriate.

Revealing outfits are perceived by most cultures as a sign of promiscuity, thus reducing your perceived credibility. Too many layers of clothing, on the other hand, put more distance between you and your audience, making you seem guarded and stiff

Win with Your Body Language

Successful presenters use their body language to look more credible. They also use it to enhance and complement their message. Conversely, inappropriate or unnecessary movements will make you appear nervous, unprepared, or unqualified in your field.

A powerful stance demands attention and ensures that people stay tuned in to your pitch. Make sure to stand straight but relaxed, to communicate confidence and authority, as slouching or hunching over suggests lethargy and weakness.

Appropriate hand gestures and motions also highlight important ideas. Use only deliberate movements and gestures that complement and enforce your speech’s purpose.

Exaggerated or uncontrolled gestures risk eliciting laughter instead of retaining attention.

Avoid motions and hand gestures that divert attention without meaningfully contributing to your message. For instance, don’t make a closed fist or point at your listeners. These actions are interpreted as signs of aggression, and may unintentionally break the flow or even offend.

Simplify, But Don’t Over-Explain

People don’t like being bombarded with words that don’t directly contribute to the message.

You want to have a smooth flow that aptly tackles your major points. Don’t break the flow by lingering on ideas that might easily be understood without further clarification.

Gauge how technical your approach needs to be by knowing the crowd beforehand. Simplify your content while still supporting your thesis, but don’t expand on every bit of information on your slides.

An informed assembly won’t want to be spoon-fed information. Over-explaining concepts or ideas they already know will only bore and tune them out.

Ensure that your message is engaging and easy to grasp in order to inform, entertain, or persuade them.

Presenting on energy efficiency to a crowd of environmental scientists probably won’t need explanation of specific jargon to their field. However, if you’re presenting the same topic to politicians and policy-makers who aren’t as familiar with the subject, you’ll need to simplify and explain those terms.

A streamlined presentation engages listeners effectively, while a protracted arrangement will bore and tune them out.

Speak Up, But Don’t Shout

An audible voice and clear enunciation make or break your delivery, but being audible doesn’t necessarily mean being loud.

What’s important is your vocal projection. What you say should be clearly heard without strain on the part of your listeners.

Also, consider the size of both the gathering and the venue, and know if your voice will be electronically magnified (via a microphone) or not.

Practice speaking in front of three different groups: one of fifty, one of eight, and a single person. This helps you adjust your voice’s loudness for different circumstances.

All speakers want to be properly heard, but none would wish to be seen as unpleasant or boorish.

Don’t Step into the Light

Just because deck and presenter work together doesn’t mean that they should physically meet.

There’s no greater sin than stepping into the projected image.

A moving shadow on your screen is a great distraction that ruins your design’s fluidity. Having visual elements projected on your person is highly unflattering, and might have unintentional comic results.

Use a laser pointer or pointer stick to direct attention to important elements.

Blogger and educator Lisa Nielsen also suggests a free and simple pointer for any occasion: the computer’s mouse cursor.

A well-made presentation does a lot towards conveying your message, but it hardly matters if you can’t command people’s full attention or if you commit errors which ruin your credibility.

Don’t take all the previous tips as ways to compensate for a lackluster deck. Instead, use these to complement and boost a good one by ensuring that your audience will be active listeners and willing recipients of your message.

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References:

Body Language: Signify Intent with Movement.” SlideGenius, Inc. October 20, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2015.
How to Dress for a Public Speech.” UCCS. Accessed May 5, 2015.
Moore, Matthew. “Stress of Modern Life Cuts Attention Spans to Five Minutes.” The Telegraph. November 26, 2008. Accessed May 5, 2015.
Occam’s Razor and Simplifying Presentation Content.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 30, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2015.
The Ten No Nos of Teaching with a Projector or Interactive Whiteboard.” Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator. Accessed May 5, 2015.
Your Voice Is The Most Valuable Presentation Tool.” SlideGenius, Inc. January 27, 2015. Accessed May 5, 2015.

Does Your New Business Idea Have Potential?

So, you finally have the next billion dollar business idea.

You might think that this sets you off for greater things, but the real challenge is only about to start. There are plans to make and perfect as well as investors to impress.

You have a long road ahead of you.

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Before anything else, you need to make sure that your business idea has potential. After that, it will be much easier to convince others to consider your plans and take you up on your offer. As the old saying goes, “ideas are a dime a dozen.” It doesn’t really matter that you have this unique new idea that no one else has come up with before. The test is in how well you execute the tasks ahead of you.

For that, you need to develop the idea you have. What makes some ideas succeed, and others fail?

Diffusion of Innovations

In 1962, a sociologist named Everett Rodgers sought to answer these questions. He conducted a research project to learn more about how and why certain ideas spread. He gathered data from hundreds of case studies and published his findings in “Diffusion of Innovations“.

In his book, Rodgers was able to explore the different factors that influence how we decide which ideas are worthy of acceptance or rejection. These factors were examined by professor and author David Burkus in the context of business.

Now we’ll give our own take on the topic and see how you can gauge the potential of your own pitch deck.

Relative advantage

Relative advantage deals with how well your business idea and pitch deck compares to what is currently available on the market. The product or service you’re planning to launch should be seen by others as an improvement on the current standards of your industry.

This often happens when you’re presenting your product or service’s advantage in your pitch. Highlight how you stand out from the competition by stepping away from your slides and presenting a live demo. The concrete and visual evidence will convince your prospects of your skills.

Give them the statistics on how well you’ve performed in the past, or how in depth you’ve done your research, but before you reveal your own features, always start with the unique benefits only you can offer.

By tapping into this characteristic, you’ll be able to win people over with tangible proof, as well as a good track record over the competition.

Familiarity

Of course, your business idea will need more than an innovative edge to succeed. People also gravitate towards ideas that are familiar and relatable. If they can use past ideas and experiences to understand what you’re proposing, they will be more likely to accept and adopt to it.

Most of us prefer to try out things that have some semblance to what we’re already familiar with. Always keep in mind that even as you push boundaries, you also have to create an emotional connection with the target audience.

Check out the current trends that resonate with people’s preferences and incorporate these into your pitch. Share a personal story or experience that’s directly related to what you’re going to talk about.

The sense of familiarity before introducing the big reveal to your audience eases them in before surprising them out of nowhere.

Simple and easy to understand

Another factor to consider is the complexity of your business idea. It shouldn’t be too difficult to understand for others to adapt to it quickly. In other words, it shouldn’t be complex at all. It should be simple and straight to the point and this is where a pitch deck specialist can help.

The people you’re hoping to convince should be able to understand the logic behind it.The technical details might be complex, but it should still remain fundamentally easy to understand. An idea that’s too difficult to grasp can end up intimidating your potential audience.

You might have too much raw data at hand, but not all of it should go into your slides. Take only the most important data, and present it in a visually appealing manner. For this purpose, graphs, charts, and other visual representations can come in handy.

The details that you leave out can be further expounded on in your speech itself.

Able to test and verify

Related to the previous point, the next thing to consider is how effortlessly others can interact with and test out your new business idea. The more accessible your concept is for verification, the more individuals can familiarize themselves with it.

Once that happens, the likelihood of their accepting it grows. A quick example of this is how musicians allow audiences to stream their music for free on sites like Spotify or SoundCloud. Through these sites, their audience can see if they like their new material and then commit to buying the full-length album.

Get plenty of positive testimonials for your brand to put on your slides. It’s especially helpful if you can get the help of famous influencers, or better yet, brand advocates who are genuinely interested in your business, and who would be willing to advertise you to their followers.

Put your name out in the market with the help of other people, and build your network before, during, and after your presentation.

Can be observed and shared 

Finally, it will also help that your business idea can yield noticeable results that others can share and talk about. Rodgers calls this quality “observability.”

If your idea is open to observation, the easier it is to find and reach out to a wider audience. In other words, the more visible your new product becomes introduced to a mass audience.

In the article by David Burkus, he gives Banksy as an example. He wrote, “One of the reasons for Banksy’s success is the observability of his work. Many artists challenge social conventions in unique, seemingly playful ways, but Banksy’s work is highly public and easily shareable. It isn’t just stuck behind the glass in a single gallery or museum.

Don’t fail your prospects with empty promises. Part of your presentation is the assurance of quality. Show them that your ideas will have large returns from their investments. During your pitch, give instances when your product or service delivered well.

Does your new business idea have the potential to succeed? It definitely will if you improve on the finer points by using these criteria. Polish your message using these pointers and get started on creating a pitch deck that will wow investors.

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References:

Burkus, David. “The 5 Common Characteristics of Ideas That Spread.” 99u. 2013. Accessed January 30, 2015.
The Art of Graphs and Charts.” SlideGenius, Inc. April 21, 2014. Accessed January 30, 2015.
Why Storytelling Is an Effective Presentation Technique.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 8, 2014. Accessed January 30, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Joey Gannon via Flickr

Presentation Tips: 5 Quick Steps to Audience Engagement

When it comes to delivering presentations, nothing is more important than connecting with your audience.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to close in on a deal or proposing a new project to the higher-ups. You can’t say that your ideas have been well-received if the audience can’t engage with your pitch. It’s not enough to pique their interest with a few video clips or anecdotes.

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Before you focus on the spectacle, you need to make sure your presentation is perfectly executed. What’s really essential to audience engagement is your ability to present with clarity and certainty.

Here are quick presentation tips to make sure your audience has an engaging experience:

Learn your presentation inside and out

I’m sure you’ve sat through a presentation where the speaker constantly stammered through their speech, trying hard to remember what to say next. No matter how interesting their material was, the uncertainty in their delivery probably proved to be distracting. If you want to avoid being in a similar situation, it’s important to learn every detail of your presentation.

Audience engagement rests in your ability to command attention. You can’t do that if you’re reading from your slides or fidgeting with note cards. The audience needs to see that you know what you’re saying. Take the time to rehearse your presentation as much as you can. You can also try the memory palace technique to memorize your key points.

Condense your PowerPoint deck

By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of “death by PowerPoint.” There’s no easier way to disengage an audience than by presenting them with slides that are loaded with too much information. If your slides are full with indecipherable charts and text, take a step back and start focusing on your visuals.

Instead of filling your PowerPoint deck with bullet points and text, try to illustrate your points instead. Use images and other multimedia elements to articulate your ideas.

If you’re dealing with data, you need to decide which ones are the most relevant to your core message. There are several online tools that can help you with data visualization.

Tailor your presentation for the audience

Very few presenters consider the perspective of their audience.Their presentations often sound like generic spiels because of this.

How do you connect with something you’ve heard a million times before?  If you want to stand out, you need to remember that the audience isn’t a homogeneous group. The people sitting in your audience are individuals with their own unique perspectives and opinions. In other words, audience engagement relies on your ability to personalize your message.

To get inside their heads, you need to ponder on four important questions. Answering these will give you the necessary context to create a presentation that will pull your audience in:

  • Who are they?
  • Why are they coming?
  • What action do you want them to take?
  •  Why might they resist your message?

Keep everyone interested by creating soft breaks

Audience engagement will be much easier if it wasn’t for our short attention spans. With so much tasks begging for attention these days, it’s no surprise the average adult attention span is only a few minutes short.

As hard as you try to simplify your message and learn more about the audience, it’s hard to contend with everyone’s shifting attention.

That’s why presentation expert Carmine Gallo emphasized the importance of the 10-minute rule. If you lose the attention of your audience, you can re-engage them by creating “soft breaks” after every 10 minutes or so. Give them a chance to pause and digest new information by incorporating videos, demonstrations, and other activities.

Try to create an interactive environment by posing questions that they can answer through polls or a show of hands. If you want to, you can also call up other people from your team to share a new perspective with the audience.

Deliver your presentation with passion and enthusiasm

Finally, lead by example. If your presentation delivery falls flat, your audience will easily pick up on that. You can’t expect them to feel enthusiastic about the ideas you’re sharing if you’re mumbling through your presentation.

You need to show how passionate you are about your subject matter. That’s the only way you can deliver a message that will make others feel the same way.

It isn’t hard to deliver a presentation that can engage and connect with an audience. In five easy steps, you can easily make sure that your message sticks and stays with everybody.

 

Featured Image: Steven Lilley via Flickr

The Best Medicine: 5 Tips on How You Can Give Humorous Presentations

The best way to connect with your audience is to elicit an emotional response. That doesn’t mean you have to move them to tears — laughter is just as profound. Humor is a powerful tool that can make your presentations engaging and memorable.

Don’t get us wrong—your entire speech doesn’t need to be funny. This isn’t a stand-up routine, after all. But light, humorous moments strategically placed throughout your presentation make for a pleasant audience experience.

You don’t have to be a professional comedian to do this, either.  You just need to keep these tips in mind if you’d like to start giving humorous presentations.

Act Natural

cat in front of computer
Image: Itchmo.com

Go about preparing for your presentation like you normally would. Write your speech without thinking about the jokes you have to make.

When you’re done, that’s the only time you can inject jokes appropriate to your content.

Just Be Yourself

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Image: ZanyJaney.com

It’s awkward to watch someone try to be funny when the joke feels forced. Different types of humor work for different types of people.

Think of the things that make you laugh and try to figure out what you find funny about them. Your favorite things to laugh at is a good starting point in figuring out what type of humor works for you.

Similarly, you can also think about previous occasions when other people found you funny. Others’ feedback is a good way to gauge your efficiency.

Tread the Trend

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Image: KnowYourMeme.com

An easy way to get your audience laughing is to reference current trends. You can refer to characters from the latest blockbuster movie, or a scene in the highest rating TV show that’s everyone familiar with.

You can also add a bit of humor to your PowerPoint slides by flashing popular Internet memes that are related to what you’re trying to say. At the same time, remember the occasion you’re presenting in and the people you’re presenting to. Some references may be inappropriate or irrelevant depending on the setting.

Think About Your Audience

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Image: MemeCenter.com

Generic ‘knock, knock’ jokes are sure to end in stumped silence. Tailor-fit your humor to your audience by thinking about what might make them laugh.

Jokes that are relevant to your audience are more likely to tickle their funny bone.

Deliver Well

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Image: uproxx.com

Practice your speech and figure out the best way to deliver your jokes.

Communications guru Jennifer Flachman explains that the power of your voice can influence the way your audience perceives you. Remember that tone, inflection, and body language can easily alter the meaning behind what you’re saying.

 

Reference

Flachman, Jennifer. “The Body Language of Voice: Use Your Voice to Your Advantage.” BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. September 16, 2013. Accessed June 10, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Ellen DeGeneres by ronpaulrevolt2008 on flickr.com