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The Overwhelmed Creative Team: A Cautionary “Design Ops” Tale

Back in 2011, fresh out of college, I worked for an advertising agency in New York City as an account manager.

It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

One of my responsibilities was overseeing the creation of my clients’ pitch decks, which — unsurprisingly — weren’t considered “mission critical” deliverables for the creative team.

There was never time to be idle; we were always on the go, brainstorming, producing content, and running to client meetings. The job was stressful but we were fortunate to have the right people that were easy to work with, passionate, and fun.

Over the next year though, the team began to thin. Some members left for bigger opportunities, others were poached by competing agencies, and some even started their own businesses.

Eventually, most of our veterans in the creative department were gone and the empty seats were filled with junior art directors and copywriters. 

I remember being worried about how things would unfold without some of the key employees I had come to rely on. Everyone had to step up. 

And for a while, everything ran smoothly. But as the agency grew and workloads increased, our internal design processes began to break down.

The creative team — consisting mostly of junior employees — were overwhelmed with pitch deck projects. At one point, they were unable to handle one of the decks assigned to them.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

As the account manager, I had to keep things moving and decided to just make the deck myself. 

Never did I think creating the PowerPoint deck would stress me out. After all, I’d used the tool for years to present my school reports and projects. The pre-loaded animations were there for the choosing and I knew I could find some cool-looking pre-designed templates somewhere online and simply visit YouTube for “design hack” tutorials.

Boy was I wrong.

See, the problem is that we’ve all worked with PowerPoint for years (even decades) and we trick ourselves into thinking we know enough.

Think about that for a moment.

That’s basically saying because we’ve driven cars since we were 16 years old, we feel comfortable with how the machine works.

In reality, most of us only know how to get from Point A to Point B (in most cases), and keep ourselves comfortable along the way.

We don’t know how to make the car more fuel efficient, or give it more horsepower to make it faster, or how to adjust the shocks for more on-road comfort or off-road capability—things that would undoubtedly benefit us in our week-to-week (depending on one’s lifestyle of course).

Instead, we use the same vehicle in its original configuration until it’s time to move on—because that’s what we’re used to.

If you think about it, that’s basically the same as downloading a pre-designed template that appears suitable, uploading content, and then hitting the proverbial gas pedal.

I felt I knew enough about PowerPoint to make the pitch deck acceptable.

Let’s be clear: when the goal for any project is “acceptable,” it’s safe to assume—in this day and age—it probably won’t move any needles in the right direction.

To no-one’s surprise, I came up with an almost plain deck with cheesy animations. You know, your typical box-in, appear, dissolve-type effects—stuff that causes Death by PowerPoint and makes you look old.

Fortunately, my presentation skills were good enough to outshine my unoriginal slides and the materials my creative team came up with were downright beautiful. 

But just seeing how the deck came out was a humbling experience. It was definitely something I was not proud of. I used to be so giddy presenting with the spectacular decks that our creative team came up with, but for this presentation, my deck was as good as just writing on the board with a marker

Heck, a whiteboard session might have even been more engaging than what I came up with. What’s worse is I could’ve had more hours to sleep and focus on what I was going to say rather than spend so much time on the deck.

The lesson here is pretty clear: we aren’t necessarily experts when we’ve done something many times, and just knowing “enough” is never good enough in high stakes environments like sales presentations, boardroom meetings, and keynote speeches (among others).

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on four key factors: 

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

3) The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck), and

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: your audience’s level of engagement

Thankfully, I had the first one—but imagine what my team could have accomplished if we had all four!

All Ears: How Listening Helps Assess Audience Response

As a presenter, your main goal is to engage your audience.

Just because the audience is looking at you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re listening. They might just be hearing what you’re saying, but not digesting any of the information.

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Everybody hears, but not all of them may listen. You may be asking yourself, “What’s the difference? Both actions refer to the brain registering sound anyway.”

These two have different meanings—hearing is an effortless, passive occurrence while listening is a conscious choice, which demands your concentration and attention.

Before you hire a PowerPoint design agency to make your presentation, make sure you outline it according to the various listening styles and strategies.

Relationship Listening

Empathy, presence, and support are essential when it comes to this form of listening, as its ultimate goal is to develop a strong connection with your audience.

During presentations, this comes in the form of asking and taking questions— this type of engagement builds rapport. Eventually, this leads to a conversation with the audience where insights are shared.

Appreciative Listening

Sales pitches sell a product or service aimed to solve a problem. What better way to introduce or talk about these through telling a story about a similar experience?

When you incorporate storytelling into your presentation methods, you don’t necessarily ask for constructive criticism or feedback, but you are enforcing an area of appreciative listening as you engage your audience.

Critical Listening

Have you ever watched a debate? If you have, then you’d notice that the two opposing panels have an artillery of information backed by research, ready to rebut every point that the other brings to the table.

While you aren’t part of the debate itself, you are engaging in critical listening, which involves analyzing content and identifying the debaters’ objectives.

During your presentation, your audience will seek to weigh the pros and cons of your argument, especially when you’re trying to persuade them or change their beliefs.

Discriminative Listening

The objective of this listening technique is to focus on the sounds, which makes it the foundation of the other four. Here, the listener is encouraged to be more sensitive to the speaker’s tone, pitch, paralanguage, and speech rate.

This goes hand-in-hand with Comprehensive Listening, which is one of the primary methods of learning. It demands you to concentrate on the source and the information it gives.

The indicator of discriminative listening goes beyond words. At the beginning of your presentation, your audience will assess your body language, facial expressions, and even the outfit you chose to wear that day.

Apart from the topic itself, the way you deliver it is everything in the presentation space.

Just because you’re the speaker, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your part as a listener—you still have to, as this helps you in determining which information should be included in your commercial pitch deck.

Everyone wants to be heard and understood, this is especially true for presenters who rigorously prepare for their sales pitches and business presentations. Acknowledgement from the audience during presentations means that you have successfully built rapport and established a relationship with them.

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References:

Benna, Steven. “5 Nonverbal Communication Cues All Great Speakers Have Mastered.” Business Insider. July 23, 2015. www.businessinsider.com/nonverbal-communication-public-speaking-2015-7

Conklin, Emily. “7 Storytelling Structures to Improve Your Presentations.” Entrepreneur. December 17, 2017. www.entrepreneur.com/article/305993

Hellesvig-Gaskell, Karen. “The Difference Between Hearing & Listening Skills.” Livestrong. June 13, 2017. www.livestrong.com/article/83661-difference-between-hearing-listening/

Your Power as a Presenter

Are you conducting a sales presentation any time soon?

Apart from having a custom PowerPoint presentation to serve as a visual aid, you need to be in control of the discussion as the speaker/facilitator.

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If you’re nervous, that’s okay because experiencing bouts of anxiety is normal when it comes to public speaking.

Everybody’s been through it at least once, but think of it this way: with presentations, you have the opportunity to talk about something relevant.

Introverts vs. Extroverts

People stereotype introverts as those who isolate themselves from crowds, minimizing their contact with other people. While they tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings, they make great public speakers.

Introverts have an attention for detail that is very empowering, especially when it comes to preparing presentations.

Extroverts, though they are more comfortable in the presence of others, can be just as nervous as other people before a presentation. They do, however, bring vision, assertiveness, energy, and the network needed to give them direction.

Whether you’re an introvert doubting your abilities in presenting or an extrovert fearing to go overboard, your credibility lies in your authenticity and eagerness to get your message out there.

Wielding the Power of the Presenter

If you want to be an effective speaker, you must fulfill the following:

Don’t rush—begin with an abstract.

Cluttered content will get you nowhere. Remember, a seamless narrative flow is the best thing that a presenter can provide its audience.

So, before you divide your presentation into subheadings, focus on the primary theme and come up with an abstract. This will help you stay on topic for the entirety of the discussion.

Internalize before delivering your message.

How you deliver your presentation depends on your mastery of the topic. While a well-made PowerPoint can certainly help you stay on track, you still need to know your topic by heart.

The best way to do this is to practice and internalize the flow of your sales pitch. While memorizing may seem like a good idea, internalizing your presentation will allow you to compare and contrast ideas in your own words instead of reading from your slides or notes. This shows your expertise on the topic.

Stick to your outline.

Starting your presentation strong will get the ball rolling. If your discussion is following the outline you made, then you can be sure that your conclusion can be easily tied with your starting remark. When you are able to connect your conclusion to your beginning, it shows mastery of the subject. Plus, this is how your audience can gauge your experience as a speaker.

Your purpose as a speaker is to inform people. It’s about helping your audience acquire and understand new information that they can apply in their daily lives or may need when making an important decision.

In essence, to hold power as a presenter, you need to have a complete understanding of your topic, commitment to your beliefs, and willingness to take the conversation further. These skills are applicable to all types of speakers, regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. As long you’re firm and confident, not only will your presentation be effective, but you earn more credibility as a speaker.

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References:

Attilio, Kate. “The Power of a Good Presenter.” Communiqueso. June 13, 2016. communiqueso.com/2016/06/13/the-power-of-a-good-presenter/

Danova, Ilinka. “Extroverts and Introverts in Public Speaking.” LinkedIn. May 13, 2017. www.linkedin.com/pulse/extroverts-introverts-public-speaking-ilinka-danova

Feloni, Richard. “A World Champion Public Speaker Says Introverts Often Make Better Speakers than Extroverts.” Business Insider. May 21, 2016. www.businessinsider.com/champion-public-speaker-says-introverts-can-make-better-speakers-2016-5

Gino, Francesca. “Introverts, Extroverts, and the Complexities of Team Dynamics.” Harvard Business Review. March 16, 2015. hbr.org/2015/03/introverts-extroverts-and-the-complexities-of-team-dynamics

Does Storytelling Work? Well, It Worked for Many TED Speakers

Storytelling is the best way to engage your audience during a presentation.

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Apart from a custom PowerPoint, it’s important that you establish a connection and elicit powerful emotions. This allows your audience to relate to and understand the need for your products and services because you’ve gone through the same thing at some point in your life.

TED speakers are some of the best people to ask when it comes to the most effective public speaking tips. They tell stories, which is the core of their mission during each presentation. Telling stories, after all, is one of the most effective forms of communication.

Human rights attorney and public speaker Bryan Stevenson has received the longest standing ovation ever given at a TED Talk. Carmine Gallo from Harvard Business Review shares that when he asked Steven about his speaking style, he says that he imagines talking to a friend over dinner, talking at an average of 190 words per minute, as compared to a motivational speaker who may go at 220 words per minute.

That said, he must have had something up his sleeve if he’s capable of coaxing his audience to a lasting standing ovation.

In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice. Here, he talks about his grandmother and other people in his life, allowing him and the audience to establish a personal connection. What made it successful was its emotional arc—a compelling story of overcoming a relatable struggle.

If you don’t have a personal experience to share with your audience, tell them stories about real people—previous customers that have benefited from your company. Relevant real-life case studies are irresistible because the audience knows these are from other customers and not just opinions based on your thoughts alone.

Does your brand have an interesting origin story? You never know, this could be engaging and entertaining, like Airbnb’s—three guys making a few bucks by letting attendees at a local conference sleep at their place. Not only did this pay for the steep rent, but it also sparked a $30 billion-dollar idea.

TED Talks have stood out as an effective medium because it provides extensive information that’s easy to understand. But what else makes TED Talks special? Carmine Gallo boils its core elements down to three. He notes that the success of these presentations can be attributed to these three qualities:

  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Memorable

Apart from these, top quality visuals are also necessary in engaging the audience. Consider consulting with PowerPoint presentation experts, it will prove a valuable step in the long term, especially for sales pitches.

Can you imagine having the power of TED speakers during presentations? To engage people until the end, making memorable pitches every time?

Storytelling is an art—an effective presentation technique. With passion, novel ideas, and memorable delivery, you’ll be able to pitch like a TED speaker. Keep these in mind and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

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References:

Bonnell, Sunny. “5 Powerful Storytelling Tips to Build a Brand People Pay Attention To.”  Inc. November 30, 2017. www.inc.com/sunny-bonnell/supercharge-your-brand-with-these-5-powerful-storytelling-tips.html

Conner. Cheryl. “How to Increase Your Success in Business by ‘Talking Like TED’.” Forbes. April 1, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2014/04/01/how-to-increase-your-success-in-business-by-talking-like-ted/#130cb16a13aa

Dajczman, Helene. “Why Are TED Talks So Effective and What Lessons Can Be Taken from This Method of Presentation?” LinkedIn. May 16, 2017. www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-ted-talks-so-effective-what-lessons-can-taken-from-dajczman

Gallo, Carmine. “5 Ways to Project Confidence in Front of an Audience.” Harvard Business Review. May 28, 2018. hbr.org/2018/05/5-ways-to-project-confidence-in-front-of-an-audience

Crafting a Presentation that Ends with a Bang

It’s almost time for a new year, for a new beginning. Looking back, you see how well you did and where you need to improve. From an optimistic viewpoint, a great year-ender is appreciating deeds and being inspired to make the next one better.

A year well-ended can be a great drive to improve. It can be the cornerstone of a pleasant beginning. The charisma of great things has the power to move. Spectacular presentation endings—especially ones that strike a chord in the heart—can inspire people to do generous acts.

Crafting a Presentation: Marching band

Where to Begin Your Presentation

Although, yes, it’s the season for holiday gimmicks such as festive shows and productions, many presenters will tell you that one doesn’t simply chorus his way to winning an investment or donation.

Curation is necessary when crafting a pitch. Relevant and influential data are what you need when choosing the right content for your pitch.

Even crafting PowerPoint Presentations have dos and don’ts. Let the 4-by-5 rule guide you in using words sparingly and curating only the essentials for your pitch.

Visuals can also be charming additions to a presentation. Not only are they entertaining, but they are also powerful storytellers.

Your choice of presentation content must, at all times, not only be largely influenced by the interests and preferences of the audience; but also primarily benefits your cause or proposition.

A polished PowerPoint Presentation takes one far but presenting them confidently will get one further.

Your confidence level should always rule your audiences. They may not know how prepared you are with your presentation but they can easily pick up that you are poised enough to show them you are.

Take command of your pitch. Know where the good stuff should fall and make sure you strut them when there’s a chance.

Crafting a Presentation: Exit

How to Get There

The content that comes before a conclusion plays crucial roles in supporting a proposition.

Other parts of a pitch add depth to a presentation ending, and vice versa. How well you build your presentation to your audience has a great effect on whether the ending makes it or breaks it.

Interesting opening remarks and clear introductions help set a good first impression for audiences. Data that are laid out and presented in an organized manner will highlight your first objective: to be remembered.

Before you reach the end of your presentation, make sure that attention is developed and maintained from start to finish.

Lastly, create a strategy on how you project a smooth transition when it’s time for an epic ending. Make way for the remarkable close.

As Brian Tracy advices, pick up your tempo as you approach the end. Add some energy on your voice and fire up your expressions when referring to highlights and interesting details.

Crafting a Presentation: Wizard

Call to Action

From delivering up to 5,000 seminars to more than 5 million people in different countries, in his own video presentation, Brian Tracy shares four awe-inspiring ways to end pitches.

The renowned speaker said that “A call to action is the best way to wrap up your talk with strength and power.”

Not only does it vividly imply that there’s an option for the audience to take steps but it also signals that, based on your justification, there is a need for action.

There are many ways to end with a call to action when giving a pitch. Knowing which ones effectively influence audiences, instead of abruptly asking, is the way to go.

The call to action often comes in the first or the final part of a presentation.

In a challenging close, audiences were asked to recall the presentation and were also asked to apply what they have learned just to see if it works for them. Challenging the audience triggers curiosity on whether they can do something or not.

Feed that curiosity when you get the chance. It is one of the hardest things to resist.

Crafting a Presentation: Fireworks display

Quick Summary

Summarizing after pitching is a common way to signal an audience that a presentation will be over soon.

Again, why are you agreeable? Remind them of your key points. Summarized presentations make it easier to internalize the thoughts in a presentation.

With a bookend close, you refer back to the earlier parts of your presentation to show that you have arrived at the same final point where you began. A title close similarly does the same technique except that the title conveys the main message.

When there’s a pile of slides to remember, it’s hard to make an impact on an audience. These types of closes are ideal when points-to-remember require a list.

Crafting a Presentation: Once upon a time

Closing Story

“Tale as old as time, true as they can be.”

Not all stories are real, but the point is, those that have morals are true enough to guide people with the ups and downs of life.

One would prefer to spend five minutes hearing a short but meaningful story than another load of data. Stories serve as breathing room for audiences, especially when the presentation is quite technical.

Also, stories can be charismatic enough to improve the way an audience perceives. Relating with audiences gives you more power to convince and to convert.

Crafting a Presentation: Closing story

Inspirational Excerpt

Brian Tracy believes that hope is the great religion of mankind.

Sometimes, audiences, especially the anxious ones, are just an inspiration away. Some may see trusting you as a risk, but let inspiration pull them up and lead them to their first step of action.

A feel of familiarity takes out anxiety among audiences. Sharing thoughts or insights they can relate to eases out tension between them and the unfamiliar person onstage, you.

No matter what age, inspirational excerpts help when your audience need a little soothing. Quotations from books or songs are some of the most popularly used. They have a nostalgic characteristic that people can relate to apart from the timeless morals they share.

Or, you can use a third party close. Here, a quotation is used as a premise to frame the whole presentation and at the same time, to wrap it up.

Conclusion

Audiences base decisions on how a proposition is presented.

Do you manage content and take audience presence seriously? It’s necessary to know which data fits the puzzle, making sure that they count.

Presentation maneuvers have the power to kick start the pounding of your audience’s hearts. Preparing for the arrival of a great presentation ender has a great impact on the next steps that your audience will take after the presentation.

Lastly, be compelling when you say they need to act yet observe genuineness when you bid them well, especially on their new year. Let a pleasant final impression be the last thing they remember from you before the year ends.

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Resources:

Tracy, Brian. “4 Ways to End a Speech With a Bang.” YouTube. July 14, 2015. www.youtube.com/watch?v=EucZKuqaVEE&feature=youtu.be.

Jeff, Peter. “10 Ways to End Your Speech With a Bang.” Six Minutes. October 12, 2009. www.sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-ways-to-end-your-speech

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3 Ways to Play and Present Your Own PowerPoint on TV

There are multiple mediums to show your PowerPoint presentation in. The program’s accessibility allows you to display your deck from your laptop to the Web, on mobile, on a traditional projector and screen, and even on a TV.

The latter is especially recommended for informal settings where you want to present a slideshow of your photo album. It can also work for more formal occasions like classroom or boardroom presentations if necessary.

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Here’s how you can play your PowerPoint on TV:

1. Connect from Your PC

PowerPoint on TV: Connect from Your PCThis is one of the most common methods of showing your deck on a screen. Most television sets these days come with an HDMI port where you can connect your laptop via cable. Simply locate both your TV and PC’s HDMI ports and plug in the two ends of the cable. Make sure that you’ve pressed the AV button on your television remote control to select the correct HDMI output.

Once you’ve connected the two devices, your laptop screen should automatically show on your TV.

Control the flow of your presentation from your PC like a normal PowerPoint but project it on a bigger screen. This lets you engage your audience by putting your visuals on a wide screen while having full control of your deck.

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2. Save It as a Video

PowerPoint on TV: Save as a VideoIf you want to free your hands completely as you present, save your PowerPoint as a video instead, as suggested in Microsoft Office’s guides.

This is an option available on PowerPoint 2010 onward. On the File menu, click Save & Send, then select Create a Video.

You can still play your deck on a TV in this format by saving your video to a USB flash drive or burning it on a DVD. Most flat screen televisions have USB ports where you can attach your flash drive and open video files.

On the other hand, those without a flash drive can burn their video presentation into a CD or DVD. A self-presenting deck in this form aids your presentation while letting you focus on content and delivery.

3. View It on Apple TV

PowerPoint on TV: View on Apple TVApple TV takes the form of a micro-console that makes use of a Wi-Fi connection or local network to stream media to your television screen. It was developed by Apple to bring the innovation of apps to TV. To use Apple TV for your PowerPoint, you’ll still need to save it as a video file.

Make sure that the file format is compatible with Apple TV. If you’re not sure what to save your presentation as, the usual file format is .MP4. You can also upload your video presentation on iTunes, where you can sync it with Apple TV.

From there, you can watch and present your video hands-free as well. However, since this option needs the micro-console around the television, you may need to reserve it for intimate family gatherings or occasions where there’s no pressure to set up quickly.

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Bonus Tip: Two Different Screens

PowerPoint on TV: Different ScreensAlthough PowerPoint was initially meant to be projected from a computer screen to a bigger one, the two screens don’t have to show the same thing.

For example, if you have helpful comments attached to your slides, you’ll be able to view them by using the Presenter View feature without projecting your notes to the audience. Being able to see your original screen can give you more than just a guide to follow during your pitch.

Your notes act as prompts when you encounter mental blocks. You don’t have to read directly from them, but certain keywords may help trigger a thought you were planning to expound on. However, remember to move away from behind your laptop and engage the audience as well with your body language.

If there aren’t any helpful notes on your slides, you can either have someone click to the next slide for you, or you can use a remote control to move across slides according to your pace. Either way, the purpose of having two screens is to be able to interact with the audience without being glued to your PowerPoint.

Remember that your deck is only there to support your presence, not replace you completely. No matter where you decide to project your slides, you’re still obliged to connect with the audience emotionally and physically. This ensures that you leave a memorable impression on your listeners during and after your speech.

The Wider, the Better
PowerPoint on TV: Present on TV

You can play your PowerPoint anywhere—from the small screen of a mobile device to the wide screen of a TV. If you’re aiming for the latter, connect directly from your TV to your PC through an HDMI cable. Go through your presentation slide by slide by controlling your TV deck as you would on your computer.

You can also save your presentation as a video and copy it in a USB, burn it to a DVD, or stream it through Apple TV. This leaves your hands free enough to further engage your audience with hand gestures and appropriate body language. The last option can take some time setting up, so you might not be able to use it all the time.

Television has evolved to far more uses than viewing shows. Use it to showcase your deck to family and friends in the confines of your living room, or make use of it in a corporate setting.

If you’re having trouble with your presentation needs, our SlideGenius experts are here to lend an ear. Contact us today for a free quote!
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References

“Apple – Apple TV.” Apple. www.apple.com/tv/
“Turn Your Presentation into a Video.” Office Blogs. www.support.office.com/en-us/article/Turn-your-presentation-into-a-video-c140551f-cb37-4818-b5d4-3e30815c3e83

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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4 Ways to Promote Your Business in a Trade Show

If you’ve been to the more mainstream conventions of recent years, like Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Mobile World Congress, and The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), then you know what the experience is like. Right off the gate, you have long lines of participants waiting to get in. Upon entering, you’re greeted with any of the following: booths filled to the brim with products and memorabilia, guests carrying freebies and whatnot from other exhibits, etc. You can hear multiple voices and gimmicks coming from everywhere. There are too many sights ahead and overhead.

Mind you, these are major events, with conglomerates from all over the world sending their representatives for the chance to present in one the industry’s biggest stages. If you’re in a relatively smaller fair, though, do you need to be well-advertised?

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Yes—or at least emulate how the big names draw people to their booths. A primary benefit of this type of gathering is that you can interact with your potential customers face to face—arguably the best way to engage them—instead of through different schemes, screens, and means.

Before that, however, you must get their attention. How? By employing the following.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Demo vs Actual Games

Demos

When you have a working model of your product or service, you’re in a prime position to show potential consumers a demonstration of how it works: its strengths and unique traits that make it different from competitors’ offers. The best thing is that they get to see it firsthand and up close, if not outright experience the quality-of-life improvement.

Alternatively, you could let them try it themselves. A free trial can give potential customers a taste of how to handle your item and immediately experience the help you’re offering. When you leave them wanting for more, you’ve got them hooked.

Games

Small activities that get the blood pumping and let participants win are good icebreakers for you. The point is enjoying their presence. The more you let them feel that they’re important to your booth—and by extension your company—the more you pique their interest and start and deepen bonds. Even new relationships can go deeper than usual when customers have fun with you.

That’s the main point of this activity. You seek to leave a very good first impression upon your booth visitors. When that release of dopamine, serotonin, and possibly adrenaline hits them, that triggers a connection that they remember from your exhibit and your brand.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Desktop Presentation vs Projector Presentation

Photo Opportunities

When people visit your booth and have fun, you want to have a record of that. And they will too. Taking photographs is a good way of providing yourself with a good reminder of each customer, but you can take it one step further. Share those pictures on your social media platforms (don’t forget your hashtags) and tag them.

Better yet, ask if they can upload it on their own pages. And lucky you if they do. It’s like a visual representation of word of mouth: the more their personal connections see your stuff and how the poster enjoyed your booth, the more curious they become. They can also become leads given time and the proper attention.

Live Social Media Updates

People usually tweet and post updates about everything, especially when in a state of euphoria. What follows is a long series of statements about how great the event is and how nice the people are, which are often accompanied by pictures to hype everything up.

You could do the same. By giving your online audience a sneak peek, you not only update those who couldn’t come but also give an idea, or at least some level of expectation, on what future participants can experience the next time you’re going to a trade show.

Grabbing Attention for Your Booth in a Trade Show | Trade Show Presentation

Your Afterparty

At the end of the day, you’re going to look back on how and why those people went up to your booth and listened to what you have said. If you’re wondering why so many visited your spot, then think no more. Your attention grabbers worked beautifully. You may soon see more visitors because other attendees saw how fun your booth is. Isn’t that your end goal? To have people know about your venture?

Will traditional means of promotion cut it? Don’t expect your competitors to skimp on the basics—since they don’t expect you to cut corners on the same. When you’re all on equal footing, the deciding factor becomes the extra mile you’re willing to take to hook people in, to show them and let them experience something memorable, and to make them come back.

Are you willing to do it?

 

Resources:

Biala, Susan. “How to Boost Your ‘Happy Hormones’.” Best Health Magazine. October 2014. www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/mental-health/how-to-boost-your-happy-hormones

Fusion, Jennn. “Trade Show Promotional Ideas.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/trade-show-promotional-ideas-1444.html

Hovde, Kristin. “5 Trade Show Promotion Ideas for More Engagement.” TSNN. August 24, 2014. www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/5-trade-show-promotion-ideas-more-engagement

James, Geoffrey. “Give a Great Product Demo: 5 Rules.” Inc. May 24, 2012. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/give-a-great-product-demo-5-rules.html

Kaufenberg, Jackie. “19 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Next Tradeshow or Event.” Vivid Image. August 13, 2014. www.vimm.com/social-media-tradeshow

Thimmesch, Mike. “10 Top Tips for Trade Show Promotions.” Skyline. November 16, 2011. www.skylinetradeshowtips.com/10-top-tips-for-trade-show-promotions

Wyse, Susan E. “7 Tips to Market Your Business Effectively at Trade Shows.” Snap Surveys. April 10, 2012. www.snapsurveys.com/blog/7-tips-market-business-effectively-trade-shows

“12 Trade Show and Event Promotion Mistakes to Avoid.” Skyline E3. February 7, 2017. www.skylinee3.com/blog/12-trade-show-and-event-promotion-mistakes-to-avoid

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The Most Effective TED Talks and What You Can Learn from Them

Public speaking is not an innate talent that people are born with. It’s a skill that takes patience and constant practice to master. Many would agree that TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), an organization dedicated to spreading powerful ideas, is a pacesetter in producing the best presentations in the world. TED talks have been translated to more than a hundred languages, and TED events have been held in over 145 countries. Undoubtedly, the organization sets the bar higher in organized presentations.

This massive success begs the question: What does TED do differently that it manages to blow people’s minds over and over again? The answer lies in the speakers and the ideas they spread. TED speakers come onstage armed not only with powerful concepts and inspiring words but also with effective methods to get their message across. Here are eight lessons you can learn from the most successful TED talks ever held.

8 Public Speaking Lessons from the Most Viewed TED Talks

1. Hook the audience with one big idea

Everything, no matter how great, starts with a tiny spark of idea. Even the most elaborate TED talks begin with a simple concept that holds promise. As Jeremy Donovan, a TEdx organizer, said, “If you had to say there was one magical element to the best TED talks, it’s that those speakers picked one really, really big idea.” When giving a presentation, you don’t want to bombard your audience with a flurry of information. Choose one specific and interesting topic, then work around it. Attack it from a unique angle and give your audience something to think about. 

2. Start with an interesting opener

Don’t go onstage thinking that it’s the audience’s job to listen. You must earn the audience’s attention every time you take the limelight. The best TED speakers know this so they make their talks interesting from the moment they drop the first word.

  • Begin with an anecdote. Brene Brown opened her talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” with a story that was relevant to her point. This helped the audience understand Brown and her message.
  • State an incredible fact. Dan Gilbert is no stranger to the TED stage. One of the reasons why he captivates the audience every time he speaks is that he begins with an interesting statistic that turns heads.
  • Pause for ten seconds. Seth Godin advises public speakers to pause not for two, three or five seconds but for ten whole seconds to get everyone’s attention. And Godin should know since he’s one of America’s most respected marketing gurus.

8 Public Speaking Lessons from the Most Viewed TED Talks | Group of audience

3. Share a story that resonates with the audience

Everybody loves stories, especially those that appeal to the emotions. When you tell a story, make sure to not only relay the events but also the emotions you experienced. When you share genuine feelings, you establish a connection with the audience. This is exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert did in her inspiring TED talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius.”

4. Establish rapport using humor

To establish a connection with the audience, the speaker should lower his defenses and let the audience into his personal bubble. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use humor. In the most viewed TED talk of all time, “Do Schools Kill Creativity,” Sir Ken Robinson used self-deprecating humor to make the audience feel more comfortable around him. You can apply the same principle to endear yourself to the audience and make them want to listen to your message. 

5. Design your slides with care

Good speakers use pictures instead of texts to reinforce their message. Just look at Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk entitled, “How to Make Stress Your Friend.” Observe how she effectively used images to strengthen her claims. If you plan to accompany your talk with a PowerPoint presentation, make sure to do away with large chunks of text and instead focus on the audience’s visual experience. Remember, you’re already overwhelming your audience with words by simply talking; don’t tire them out by forcing them to read your slides.

8 Public Speaking Lessons from the Most Viewed TED Talks | the winner

6. Reinforce your point throughout the talk

Contrary to popular opinion, you should consistently repeat yourself throughout the presentation. If you establish your point over and over, your audience will eventually catch on to what you’re trying to say. This is what Richard St. John did in his short TED talk about success. He gave away the eight secrets to success while staying true to one core message: Success doesn’t come easy. You need to have the passion, the courage and the resilience to pursue it.

7. Leave your audience a gift before you go

The audience always sit in anticipation of something new to bring home. They lend their ears because they expect to be entertained or blown away by a novel idea or a fresh perspective they’ve never thought of before. Remember, although the presentation is your moment, it’s not entirely about you. You stand onstage not to bask under the spotlight but to share something that is worth your audience’s time.

The words of Robert Ballard, the explorer who discovered Titanic, are very fitting in this case. He said, “Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.” Take for example Susan Cain’s “The Power of Introverts.” Cain dared to look at introversion from a different light, and the response she got was positively overwhelming. 

8. Waste no one’s time

It’s common courtesy among public speakers to end their talk before the time limit. TED talks run for an average of eighteen minutes, which TED curator Chris Anderson finds “long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.” So if you’re given thirty minutes, prepare for a presentation that runs for twenty-five minutes or less. You can allot the extra time for unforeseen events or unsolicited questions from the audience.

Public speaking is not easy, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be a few steps closer to delivering an electrifying TED-like presentation that you’ll cherish for life. 

 

Resources:

Gallo, Carmine. “9 Public Speaking Lessons from the World’s Greatest TED Talks.” Forbes. March 4, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/03/04/9-public-speaking-lessons-from-the-worlds-greatest-ted-talks/#3e8ca62212ea

Haden, Jeff. “20 Public Speaking Tips of the Best TED Talks.” Inc. www.inc.com/ss/jeff-haden/20-public-speaking-tips-best-ted-talks

James, Geoffrey. “11 Public Speaking Tips from the Best TED Talks Speakers.” Inc. July 26, 2016. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/11-public-speaking-tips-from-the-best-ted-talks-speakers.html

May, Kate Torgovnick & Ludolph, Emily. “A TED Speaker Coach Shares 11 Tips for Right Before You Go Onstage.” TED Blog. February 14, 2016. blog.ted.com/a-ted-speaker-coach-shares-11-tips-for-right-before-you-go-on-stage

Stillman, Jessica. “5 Secrets of Public Speaking from the Best TED Presenters.” Inc. November 8, 2013. www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/ted-speakers-on-presenting-public-speaking.html

 

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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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