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How Perfectionism Affects Your Professional Presentation

Let’s admit it. We all want to become perfect in every aspect, even in a professional presentation. However, some presenters forget that trying to be completely error-free can negatively affect the entire performance.

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Though aiming for the best helps you become successful, trying for a 100% great outcome can give you a headache. Aside from procrastination or stage fright, perfectionism can also become a source of anxiety. It triggers nervousness, especially when you’re expecting an error-free presentation.

Ask yourself, “Am I focused on not making a mistake?” or “Am I focused on engaging my audience to get my point across?” Your answer depends on what you prioritize the most.

Let’s see how perfectionism affects your performance.

Perfectionism Heightens Fear

It’s normal to be anxious when you speak in public. However, setting your standards too high might increase your fear of rejection or fear of being judged. This is because it convinces you to be unflinchingly perfect during the pitch.

To ease the pressure, remember that your job is to connect with your audience so that they understand your message.

Three Signs that You’re a Perfectionist

  1. You can’t forget a certain failure.
  2. You can’t respond positively to a negative reaction.
  3. You worry too much about what others think of you.

These habits demoralize you if you let it control you and your performance.

Mistakes can happen even if you’ve carefully planned and prepared your presentation. Whether it’s caused by your PowerPoint slides, your speech, or technical problems, remain positive and focus on conveying your message to avoid getting controlled by this behavior.

Three Thoughts to Overcome Perfectionism

To remove this negative behavior, consider these things:

  1. Your audience is considerate and understanding. If you fail, forget it then move on. Being honest allows them to see that you’re also human, prone to making mistakes.
  1. Your listeners won’t notice unless they see that you do. Even if you point out that you’ve made a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. Proceed with your pitch and concentrate on delivering it.
  1. Relax and be positive. Things will get better once you let go of your worries. It’s all about your audience, so focus on meeting their expectations.

Conclusion

Aiming for total perfection causes problems once you let it control you.

It’s natural to commit mistakes, especially when presenting. What you can do, instead, is to pick yourself up and show your audience that you’re still worth their time, because your main idea is what they care about the most.

Acknowledging your errors shows courage and that there’ll always be room for improvement. Positively respond to it and become a better and successful presenter.

To craft an effective and powerful presentation, SlideGenius experts can help you out!

 

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References

“Ditching the Urge to Be a ‘Perfect’ Speaker.” Ginger Public Speaking. June 12, 2013. www.gingerpublicspeaking.com/urge-perfect-speaker
Morgan, Nick. “Perfectionism and Public Speaking.” Public Words. October 14, 2014. www.publicwords.com/2014/10/14/perfectionism-and-public-speaking

A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Great PowerPoint Ideas

A professional presentation takes time, not just in making the actual pitch deck, but in planning how to make it.

Presentation experts (even the ones behind Apple’s and TED Talks’ presentations) recommend spending the majority of your time planning for how to make and deliver the sales pitch. According to brand communication expert, Carmine Gallo, this takes at least 90 hours, with only a third of that time used for building the actual deck.

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The rest of the time needs to be spent on knowing your client’s expectations. Qualtrics’ Scott Smith presents seven customer expectations to watch out for, so make sure to dedicate your time to researching the topic, and developing an effective method of delivery.

Ask yourself:

  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • Is there an applicable solution that I can use?
  • How will I solve the problem then?
  • What advantage can I offer that the competition can’t?

A secret to getting effective PowerPoint ideas is planning ahead of time.

Let’s go into detail about how to plan your business presentation.

Step 1: Write Everything You Want to Say

Make a list, sit down with your colleagues, consult your company’s production/research teams, draw quick sketches and draft a script. Just get something, anything on paper when you start.

This way, you’ll have an easier time sorting through PowerPoint ideas that work from those that don’t.

Both professional presenters and advertising experts talk about similar methods. Whether it’s planning on paper or, as ad veteran Luke Sullivan suggests, sticking drawings of your best ideas on the wall, the best way to get your sales pitch idea is to dump everything into an empty space and sort them out.

Step 2: Be Your Own Coldest Critic

Once you have everything you can think of in one place, be it an empty Microsoft PowerPoint file or on blank sheets of paper, start judging. Using the questions listed above can work as your guide.

Everything you place in your PowerPoint deck stems from two sources: the client’s problem and the product or service you’ll use to solve it. The strategy is up to you. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you want to bank on your company’s reputation for being the best in the business?
  • Do you want to highlight one advantage you have over the competition?
  • Do you want to introduce a game-changing solution to an old problem?

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Your ideas must fit whatever strategy you choose.

If you want to pitch for a car-rental service provider, or sell your electronics to a local distributor, ask yourself about the workability of your idea (for example, displaying consistent sales numbers or user testimonies). If you think it’s doable, keep it.

Step 3: Once You Have the “Eureka” Moment, Stay on It

One benefit of dumping your ideas and being your harshest critic is that you arrive at your winning sales pitch idea faster.

Everything you say and write will flow by themselves if your idea and strategy are sound enough. The best thing to do is stay with it.

Write down your script and slide content while your thoughts are still fresh in your mind. Delaying it will interrupt your train of thought, wasting time better spent on finalizing your PowerPoint deck.

The Lesson to Learn

Don’t be afraid to critique your own ideas. A sales presentation is all about testing ideas against the client’s problems and coming up with your best solution.

If it works, come up with an appropriate strategy to sell your proposal better than the competition does. Keep at it until you find your selling idea.

To help you come up with it even faster, spend time with a PowerPoint presentation expert. It’s worth the investment. (All it takes is fifteen minutes.)

 

References

Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York. McGraw-Hill, 2010
Plan Ahead to Avoid PowerPointless Presentations.SlideGenius, Inc. May 27, 2015. Accessed July 15, 2015.
Smith, Scott, “Customer Expectations: 7 Types all Exceptional Researchers Must Understand.” Qualtrics. Accessed July 15, 2015.
Sullivan, Luke. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This! A Guide to Creating Great Ads. Hoboken, NJ – J. Wiley & Sons, 2008

 

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PowerPoint Presentations: Do You Really Need Them?

PowerPoint is the undisputed king of all presentation software. With about 500 million users relying on it to create their visual aids, no one can deny its dominance.

Aside from the contemporary presentation designs it offers, we need them to enhance and support our core message.

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We still get questions from some presenters, wondering if they even need slides to go with their speech. To answer this question, let’s first examine how they benefit your presentations:

All-Around Usefulness

What helps PowerPoint immensely is its inclusion in Microsoft Office.

Its similarity to Word (and even freeware Word variations) means that it’s convenient for all types of users and purposes.

This software has basic photo-manipulating capabilities, whereas animations and image placement are easy to do. It’s also made it easier to edit and layout text. With these advanced features, sharing visual information has become easier to plan for and execute.

According to tech guru, Aaron Parson, most presentations will benefit from PowerPoint’s versatility. It can be used for pitching, selling, teaching, and even entertaining. It lets you draw diagrams, assorted graphs, charts, and even basic illustrations, with possibilities for online sharing.

Notable Exceptions

While PowerPoint exhibits all-around usefulness, there are still some situations where you shouldn’t depend on it.

Motivational speeches often don’t need accompanying visual aids. They require greater focus on the presenter’s body language and facial expressions – things that projected slides could distract from.

Speeches that focus on a speaker’s personal experiences generally don’t need an accompanying deck. Better described as performances, presenters serve as their own visual aids through non-verbal communication.

PowerPoint by Default

Determine from the beginning if your presentation needs an accompanying deck. This allows you to better divide and plan your time and resources for maximizing your speech.

Knowing that you almost always need a deck to back you up, it pays to know what makes for effective PowerPoint presentations.

Conclusion

PowerPoint remains a vital tool to complement your message visually because of its convenience and ease of use.

Knowing from the beginning whether you need to include a PowerPoint deck will help you plan for it, or prepare to present without it.

Certain types of presentations lend themselves to PowerPoint decks. If you’ll be giving a speech based on personal experience, without needing to explain complicated facts, people will focus more on your facial expressions and body language. In the instances you do need to use slides, learn the various factors that determine its success or failure.

Looking for something to inspire you on PowerPoint presentations? Check out our portfolio, or contact us now for a free quote.

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References

3 Reasons Why PowerPoint Presentations Are Still Effective.SlideGenius, Inc. August 6, 2015.
Parson, Aaron. “5 Uses of PowerPoint.” EHow. June 2, 2015. Accessed July 6, 2015.
PowerPoint Usage and Marketshare.” Infogr.am. Accessed July 6, 2015.

Adapting Elevator Pitches Into Your Sales Presentation

The idea of adapting a sales presentation into a 30-second elevator pitch is to deliver a clear and concise speech that makes a good impression in a short amount of time.

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When the elevator door opens and a potential client stands near you, you want to catch his attention and, hopefully, get his business card.

Stay ahead of the competition. Consider every presentation as the chance of a lifetime, so make a speech that sells more than it tells.

Here’s how you can plot your message similar to a well-crafted elevator pitch:

Establish Credibility

How can you earn someone’s trust in the span of an elevator ride?

The key is to establish credibility.

Reel your audience in at the very start and build a positive mental picture in their minds.

A short yet concise self-introduction makes you sound credible. According to presentation trainer Gavin Meikle, you can also literally walk the talk and exude credibility through confident body language.

Stating your specialization and longevity on the field, as well as your manner of speaking, are essential. Convince your audience that you’re worth listening to.

Build Curiosity

Eagle Venture CEO Mel Pirchesky’s famously quoted line summarizes the essence of an elevator pitch: “The objective of the first ten or fifteen seconds is to make your prospective investors want to listen to the next forty-five or fifty seconds differently, more intently than they would have otherwise.”

That’s why most elevator pitches build upon curiosity. They want to make the impression last until the last second.

Though short, elevator pitches shouldn’t reveal your entire offer right off the bat. It’s more of a prelude to the bigger pitch coming up once you’ve hooked your listener into paying attention.

For presentations, giving your audience a glimpse of your product’s benefits is great for hooking in a new lead. This suggests involvement and creates the right atmosphere for persuasion.

Express Spontaneity

Elevator speeches express spontaneity.

They sound like a story being told out of impulse, often in a conversational tone. This adds a greater sense of sincerity to your pitch.

When doing a sales presentation, avoid sounding like you’re reading a script.

Practice delivering your speech naturally while sharing your main idea and purpose. Asking a relatable question can also increase audience participation.

Summing It Up

Your sales presentation is your gateway for new leads. Craft an elevator pitch to hook your audience in the most concise and fastest manner possible.

Having problems creating presentations that sell? Contact SlideGenius and we’ll help you design a PowerPoint presentation that gets you the sales you deserve!

 

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References

 
Cameron, Chris. “Going Up! How to Ride An Elevator Pitch to New Heights.” ReadWrite. January 11, 2010. Accessed July 01, 2015.
How Not to Depend on Your PowerPoint Presentation Scripts.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed July 01, 2015.
Meikle, Gavin. “How to Come Across as Credible With Your Audience.” InterActiv Presenting and Influencing. July 16, 2013. Accessed July 01, 2015.
Why Conversational Tones Work for Corporate Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed July 01, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “Elevator” by Gideon Tsang on flickr.com

Using Common Values in PowerPoint Presentations

Chances are, just about every person you’ve met has their own standards. This could be about the food they eat, the brand of clothing they wear or the gadgets that they purchase for work or for leisure.

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What makes these standards so important? They define almost everything people do, from the decisions they make to the things they believe in. For effective presenters, challenging or reinforcing these beliefs can make their speeches all the more convincing. This is because they can easily identify the values that their audiences live by, and use these to refine their presentation’s main message.

Shared Beliefs Establish Trust

Using shared beliefs to make your argument credible isn’t a new technique. Marketing professor Lisa Fortini-Campbell’s book, Hitting the Sweet Spot (1992), recommends an ethics-based marketing method to form a level of empathy with customers. This involves knowing what values your customers live by and reinforcing those beliefs when advertising your products.

For example, you can show how a particular brand of SUVs can make family road trips more enjoyable and, more importantly, safe. Another example was when Kraft Foods, Inc. stopped advertising junk food to children to keep a credible relationship with its customers, most of whom were parents concerned for their family’s health.

As long as brands can show that they believe in the same things that we do, they can maintain a healthy relationship with customers. However, brands have to back this up by delivering with their marketing, products, and services, instead of simply speaking of these values.

Presentation as a Form of Marketing

Some may argue that making a presentation has nothing to do with marketing. But consider this: if you were to pitch your company’s health insurance, how would you convince your client to make that investment if they prefer to keep costs at a minimum? Would you compare your package to cheaper but less comprehensive offerings? Or would you appeal to their sense of responsibility by proposing that investing in their employees’ health could deliver long-term benefits?

If you think about it, giving a presentation can be considered a form of marketing; planning what to pitch, how to propose it, and how to design the PowerPoint all follow a similar process. In the end, they all rely on establishing connections to effectively sell themselves. This allows for easier time forming their content around certain beliefs to justify proposals and ideas.

Having a Common Ground

To use this marketing method properly, ask yourself if your company’s core values are aligned with your client’s.

In the above scenario of selling an insurance package, you can determine if there any common morals that you both practice in your respective companies. For instance, you would focus on a construction company’s belief in optimal safety and healthcare when selling insurance products. You could also focus on a finance company’s belief in making the most out of their money.

Find out which beliefs can you capitalize on when making your PowerPoint presentations content. Once you have this information, you’ll have an easier time applying values-based messages to your proposals or recommendations. Your slide designs can also be attuned on those shared moral values that you both bank on.

Taking this approach means you should keep in mind that your clients are humans too. Each client has their own set of ethics that influences their decision-making. In the same way that brands and advertising can use shared beliefs to encourage customer purchase, a properly designed PowerPoint presentation can use this approach to gain client approval.

By utilizing the power of belief to establish a common ground with your clients, this can be an effective tool to get the business results you need.

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References:

Cross, Vanessa. “The Goals of Values-Based Marketing.” Chron. Accessed April 21, 2015.
Fortini-Campbell, Lisa. Hitting the Sweet Spot. Chicago: Copy Workshop, 1992

What Your Product Demo Actually Needs

During a product demo, the priority is to turn the spotlight on the many advantages of the product you’re pitching. We talk about all the ins and outs of the product, focusing on what makes it the best compared to what’s currently available on the market.

This was the approach that Robert Falcone of brand personalization specializer, Monetate, has tried, tested, and proven ineffective. In an interview with First Round Review, Falcone shared his experience delivering hundreds of product demos with very little success. Finally, after research and practice, he found that knowing a product doesn’t make a demo successful.

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What a product demo actually needs is a change in the usual perspective. Instead of focusing on features and advantages, Falcone learned that he needed to cater his demos for the audience.

Now, one of the easiest and biggest mistakes he sees is that companies don’t effectively craft their demo to fit their specific audience—i.e. they don’t distill their dozens of features and selling points into the few that will really resonate with this particular investor, prospect, or even prospective employee.

To do this, here are the strategies that he found to be effective:

The 5-minute “discovery session”

We often discuss the importance of learning as much as you can about the audience beforehand. Part of your preparation should always include doing some legwork and research to learn basic information about the people you’re about to face. Falcone takes this advice one step further with what he calls the 5-minute discovery session. Before you start your presentation, take a few minutes to ask the audience what they want.

The best strategy for this: “Be upfront with the people you’re talking to. Say outright, ‘I’m going to start off today’s conversation by taking just five minutes to ask you a few questions so that I can understand which features will be most important for you.’ That way, you’re all on the same page. You’ve framed things in a strong, clear, logical way, and you already have them participating in a dialogue.”

If this sounds a bit odd, you should look at it this way: your product demo is an opportunity to start a conversation with your prospects. To learn the best way you can be of service to them, you need to engage with them.

The usual product demo isn’t dynamic at all. The presenter just delivers his pitch and gets politely thanked at the end. If you really want to gain an opportunity to actually communicate the benefits you can provide, you shouldn’t be afraid to open the door.

Start with the outcome

As Falcone said, customers aren’t compelled to try a product because it’s the best in the market. They consider a product because it promises to give them something they want or need. In other words, they’re looking at the outcome. They want to know how your product will affect their life or solve their problems.

You want your audience to envision, and if possible, experience what life with your service or product will be like. Then, once they have that in mind, you can back up and show them why things will be so much better. It’s part of anticipating that ‘after’ state you want to ask about during discovery, and addressing it right away.

Before detailing all the features and selling points, start your product demo by outlining the outcome. Tell your prospects what they should expect out of your product and how it will help answer the problems they shared with you during the discovery session.

Move from macro to micro 

When you’re finally ready to discuss product details, make sure you structure the demo in a way that’s easy to follow. Start by providing the audience with a macro view of your product before going into a micro view. This way you can present a general premise before moving on to more nuanced and detailed discussion.

You have to remember that most people you demo to will probably know nothing about what you’re about to present or how it works. If you get into the weeds too fast because you’re worried about dumbing things down or not being subtle enough, you’ll lose.

The objective of a demo isn’t just to introduce a new product. You want to make sure your prospects understand everything about the product you’re offering. How can they decide to make a sale if they leave your pitch confused?

Silence can push the dialogue further

A lot of presenters are scared of silence, but Falcone asserts that it can be an important part of a product demo. Instead of trying to cover up awkward silences with long explanations, let it play out and use it to your advantage.

[Falcone] found that this keeps him from going off topic just to fill the void, and if he waits for a bit before answering a question, he has more time to be thoughtful about his response. Best of all, someone else in the room may jump in to supply more context about what they want or need.

Instead of grasping for something to say, allow silences to play out organically. Use the time to think about what you’ll say next, or wait for the audience to bring up their own points and perspectives. Whatever happens, you’ll find that it can actually help add a dynamic quality to a product demo.

Keep the floor open for questions and answers

Lastly, your product demo will also benefit from taking and answering questions early on. Doing so will definitely contribute to creating an open dialogue feel to your presentation. It also encourages your audience to take an active part in the discussion, allowing them to see that this pitch is all about their needs.

Aside from that, you should also address questions to the audience. As Falcone pointed out, this is your opportunity to “keep people engaged and facilitate learning on both sides“. In particular, there are three types of questions you can ask.

You can ask an open-ended question, which starts the conversation. Then there’s the “point question”. It’s completely rhetorical and serves to emphasize the point you’re trying to make. Finally, you can also ask a “response question”. This is something you pull out when an audience asks you something that’s a bit tricky to answer.

A product demo is an opportunity to reach out to potential customers and clients. At this point, you want to make sure that you present an outcome that is beneficial to them. Make sure you listen to their needs by following these strategies. You can also improve your chances through powerful visuals.

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References:

“3 Presentation Benefits of Using Silence as Strategic Pause.” SlideGenius PowerPoint Design & Presentation Experts. July 3, 2015.
Falcone, Robert. “Your Product Demo Sucks Because It’s Focused on Your Product.” First Round Review. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Why Conversational Tones Work for Corporate Presentations.” SlideGenius PowerPoint Design & Presentation Experts. May 7, 2015.

 

Featured Image: ImagineCup via Flickr