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5 Presentation Habits That Skilled Speakers Should Avoid

Professionals sometimes neglect minor factors while presenting, often thinking that they’re trivial.

However, they forget that these seemingly insignificant habits can make or break their presentation.

Though there are guidelines to remember when speaking in public, there are also negative practices that could ruin your performance.

Here are five practices that presenters should avoid:

  1. Oversmiling

Learn when to smile and when not to.

What are the advantages of smiling?

Smiling helps you build rapport and connect with your audience, while also reducing your anxiety and boosting your confidence as a speaker.

When shouldn’t you smile during your pitch?

Though almost a given, remember not to smile while telling unfortunate stories.

You can also use a neutral expression to show professionalism and respect, especially when you’re discussing sensitive issues.

Knowing your content also lets you identify what part of your pitch requires specific kinds of facial expressions.

  1. Depending on Memory

Know when to depend on your script.

For beginners, it’s advisable to use notes to help them remember their cues.

For experienced speakers, it’s better not to depend on scripts to appear more professional and prepared.

However, there are times when you have to return to your notes. You may need to refer to your references if you’re discussing a particularly complicated topic. This is acceptable, as long as you don’t do this too often.

Try recording your speech and listening to it, watching out for any lines that stand out to you. List down anything from your speech that sounds powerful. You can use these as guideposts for the best times to deliver your strongest lines.

  1. Overacting

You can add humor to your speech to lighten your audience’s mood, making them more responsive. You may use stories that require exaggerated body language that’ll definitely make your audience laugh.

However, when delivering a serious topic, be gentle when you dramatize. This’ll convince your audience to feel the deep emotions you’re portraying and emphasizing.

  1. Overusing Authority

Learn when to be enthusiastic and when to be serious.

You can entertain your audience by telling them irrelevant anecdotes and information, but this doesn’t get you anywhere closer to driving your big idea home.

Don’t use your authority to overly engage your audience with stories that have nothing to do with your main message. You might get them into a better mood, but they’ll fail to recall what you want them to learn and understand.

If you want to use stories, tell only those that support your core message.

Always get back to your presentation’s main objective.

  1. Asking Unplanned Questions

People often end up asking unplanned questions when they make a mistake or when an unexpected event arises.

This is most presenters’ last resort in regaining their audience’s attention, but this often causes them to neglect their original plan for their pitch.

Understand that you have different types of audiences; some are expressive, while others are straight-faced.

While asking questions is important, only include relevant queries to save time and avoid boring your audience.

Start by asking the right questions, that is, those that clarify important points so that your listeners can better understand you.

Conclusion

Great presenters often overlook some practices that disrupt their presentation’s success.

However, understanding these negative presentation habits lets you avoid them and develop a more effective presentation. 

Know when it’s appropriate to smile during your presentation. It’s usually fine if you’re talking about something lighthearted, but it’s better to put on a neutral expression when discussing controversial topics.

Though reciting your pitch from memory makes you look like a professional in your field, there’s no harm in referring to your notes in case you forget what to say next. It’s better to have a back-up plan than to fumble and be unable to recover at all.

Using different facial expressions can add an emotional punch to your points, but don’t overdo it or you’ll only look like you’re forcing it.

You may be tempted to tell your audiences all the interesting stories you have in your head, but only share those that actually have something to do with and support your core idea.

Finally, don’t ask unplanned questions or you’ll drive your discussion off-track. Always be prepared to ask the right questions to regain your audience’s attention.

Removing all these unproductive habits are guaranteed to make better, more engaging pitches that convert into sales.

To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

References

Genard, Gary. “For Public Speaking Success, Ask the Right Questions!” The Genard Method, February 24, 2013. Accessed June 9, 2015. http://www.genardmethod.com/blog-detail/view/69/for-public-speaking-success-ask-the-right-questions#.VXcdKs9Viko
Mitchell, Olivia. “The 5 Bad Habits of Experienced Speakers.” Speaking about Presenting, June 2, 2011. Accessed June 9, 2015.  http://www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/presentation-skills/bad-habits-experienced-speakers/
 

Featured Image: “Break” by Got Credit

3 Reasons Why Introverts Can Become Presentation Experts

Presentations aren’t only for extroverts who relish in collaboration and social encounters with the outside world. According to CRM specialist Russel Cooke, introverts are just as suitable for delivering a winning pitch. They have more processing time before they act, which can make for powerful presentations.

If you think you possess these traits, nourish them so that your business pitches produce positive results.

1. They Have Quiet Time

Introverts possess a different level of personal energy. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t all antisocial hermits. Being an introvert simply means that you prefer to withdraw and recharge after a long day of interacting with others. This healthy amount of quiet time lets them reflect on events and opportunities, so they can more confidently execute tasks.

Challenge yourself to find alone time, like introverts do. Enjoy a little peace and quiet so you are in the right space to carefully plan your business pitch. This helps you prepare how to best convey your presentation idea to your intended audience.

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2. They Challenge Themselves

Since introverts are contemplative, they often recognize and accept their own weaknesses and limitations. They’re more likely to work on self-improvement because of their insightful nature. Follow the introvert way and achieve your biggest breakthroughs by challenging yourself to overcome adversity.

A speaker who faces challenges and improves his presentation skills has a big advantage over those who don’t. Presentation experts didn’t reach their full potential overnight. It requires great effort and deliberate practice. The good news is that anybody can do it, with enough determination.

3. They Listen Closely

This inherent trait is closely connected with having quiet time and challenging themselves. Introverts have a calm and meditative attitude, making them good listeners. They keep the balance of quiet time and self-improvement through attentive listening.

While quiet time works well when listening to an audience’s response, the desire for growth also happens after receiving clever insights or negative feedback that drive you to push your limits.

Conclusion

Just because extroverts are more outgoing and comfortable in a group doesn’t mean they’re superior presenters. Introverts are able to focus more because they’re comfortable with planning in silence. They’re also more introspective, ready to admit areas they can improve in, and willing to challenge themselves into becoming better people.

Finally, they can more fully engage audiences because, being naturally quieter, they’re able to attentively listen to what the crowd has to say. People with introverted traits can also make a name in the presentation industry.

Got a presentation requirement you need to work on? SlideGenius will be pleased to help you. Email us at info@slidegenius.com and we’ll contact you ASAP.

 

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References

Cooke, Russel. “Quiet Confidence: Why Introverts Make Great Leaders.” Small Business Heroes, October 13, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2015.
No ‘I’ in Team: 5 Tips for Successful Team Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. August 24, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2015.

3 Things to Remember When Disaster Attacks Your Presentation

Most presenters’ initial response when accidents happen is to worry. They think that there’s no way out when they make mistakes. The same things apply to business presentations.

While some presenters prepare well before they speak in front of their audience, they may fail to account for accidents or delays in their presentation.

When Disaster Strikes

You’re now in front of your prospective clients, ready to deliver your most outstanding pitch. Suddenly, your laptop shuts down, or your PowerPoint slides freeze.

What will you do?

Continue.

It’s been said that “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” This means that when certain problems arise, don’t stop. Continue with what you’re doing and focus on your main objective. When you concentrate on delivering your presentation, you’ll eventually set aside your negative thoughts and feelings, allowing you to achieve your desired outcome without being distracted.

Being mentally present also helps you to focus on your audience and avoid getting interrupted by unexpected circumstances. Here are three things to recall when you experience unavoidable situations:

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1. Your Client Understands

When mistakes or accidents happen, it’s normal to feel bad about it. However, remember that your audience feels the same way, too. Understand that this can happen to anyone at any time. After all, there are no perfect presentations.

What’s important is that you’re able to maintain your composure during the pitch.

2. Your Client Still Wishes to Listen.

The reason why your audience attends your pitch is because they want to listen to what you have to say. There may be distractions that will prevent them from getting your message.

However, it’s your job to capture their attention and keep them interested.

3. Your Client Wants You to Continue

Your audience is on your side. Even if you make a mistake, they still want you to continue.

Don’t let these negative thoughts hinder you from delivering your message effectively.

Conclusion

Understanding these three things will help you attain your main goal: the audience’s attention. However, these shouldn’t stop you from planning ahead. Being well-prepared and staying focused allow you to properly manage possible disasters.

When that happens, remember: don’t stop. Just continue. You’ll feel better when you do.

To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

 

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References

Dlugan, Andrew. “The Only Thing to Do When Disaster Strikes Your Speech.” Six Minutes, March 18, 2010. Accessed June 8, 2015.

4 Factors for Creating Info-Heavy PowerPoint Slide Designs

Making arguments without providing evidence to back up your stand is a bad move in presentations. It is useless, however, to bombard your slides with unnecessary information. Designing your deck haphazardly only muddles the information-sharing process and confuses your audience.

To improve your deck for your next pitch, here are four important things to keep in mind when creating info-heavy PowerPoint slide designs:

Accuracy

Facts, data, and other information presented in your slides should be correct, current, and relevant. When citing from the internet, make sure to properly fact-check and source your information. Avoid directly citing Wikipedia. Follow the citations if you want to refer to something you find interesting in wikis. Maintaining accuracy is important not only for the sake of your slides, but for your credibility as well.

You want to present data to inform and convince—not to misinform and deceive.

Clarity

It’s not enough to have accurate information. Your content should be displayed in a clear and organized manner that makes all the facts and numbers easier to understand. Cut down all the content to the bare minimum that you need to get your point across. Reducing them to the most pertinent and logical manner allows for easier transfer of information.

According to presentation trainer, Nancy Duarte, there are a number of ways to arrange your slides so they pass the glance test, or the audience’s first scan through your deck. Among these are keeping your layout simple, maximizing white space, using proper fonts, and emphasizing the important points structure your deck into something that’s easily digestible.

Meaningful

Correct and well-ordered figures aren’t enough. An important key is to inject some significance that relates to your audience. To best connect with your audience, it’s vital to do some advanced research and determine their interests, needs, and concerns. Knowing these will assist you in adjusting to optimize your presentation to their needs.

Presenting your slides as a story or in a narrative structure best engages your listeners. This is due to how we’ve come to recall memories and enjoy our entertainment: as a series of episodes with a chronological structure and thematic background.

Memorable

The best presentations are those that remain with the audience. Executing a memorable presentation requires getting on your listeners’ good will. It’s important to improve your credibility by looking enthusiastic, genuine, and creative.

Effectively communicating your own excitement regarding your topic also adds to your power to persuade. This assures your listeners that your topic is worth their time. Inserting a slice of yourself through a personal anecdote also increases your audience’s perception of you as a genuine person.

Lastly, a creative approach using a funny or poignant beginning and/or ending, or through a unique execution of your presentation, also makes your slides more memorable.

Conclusion

Being new at presenting or not having enough time is never an excuse to show up with lazily-made slides.

Always design your PowerPoint slides like a professional to get the best out of your message, and maximize the impact on your audience.

 

References

3 Secrets to Make Numbers Interesting in Sales Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 13, 2015. Accessed August 20, 2015.
Duarte, Nancy. “Do Your Slides Pass the Glance Test?Harvard Business Review. October 22, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2015.
Five Ways to Transform Your Overloaded Text Slides.Think Outside The Slide. September 14, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2015.

3 Ways Altruism Impacts Your Sales Presentation Skills

Chances are, you’ve been brought up to value altruistic behavior. This might have even turned you into the successful person you are now (or hopefully, will become). It may also have highly positive ramifications for your sales presentation skills.

First, let’s define our word of the day.

Altruism is a desire to help other people. Characterized by a lack of selfishness, anthropologists claim that civilized societies came about because altruism incentivizes cooperation. It is unfortunately not a universal trait, with several difficulties preventing people from practicing self-sacrifice for the greater good. The frequent barriers to showing selflessness include laziness, compounded by a feeling that the benefits are minimal.

Showing concern for others inspires other people to care for your welfare in kind. Here are specific ways that altruism can improve your speaking skills for your next sales presentation:

Altruism Makes You Relatable

Audiences are more likely to listen to speakers they relate with. Showing them that you care for their well-being promotes social connection. According to psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

You can increase their involvement by using words that convey a collaborative theme in your presentation. You want to say sentences such as: “We want to start a partnership where we both profit greatly through cooperation.” or “This proposal hopes to begin a mutually beneficial partnership that yields income for all parties.”

Tell your audience that what benefits you, which, in turn, benefits everyone.

Altruism Makes You Happier

Neuroscientist Emiliana Simon-Thomas cites a report that shows how altruism has positive effects on an individual’s health and happiness. This doesn’t mean that people only feel good because they think they’re supposed to. In fact, the effects of unselfish acts are reflected in neural studies on the brain.

These studies have also shown that charitable actions activate the same areas of the brain that are related to receiving gifts. It’s clear that doing good does good for you, too.

As opposed to egoists, who think more selfishly, altruists put the wellbeing of others before their own. Projecting this positive aura has the added benefit of putting people in a good mood. Related to our earlier point, this also makes it more likely for them to pay attention.

Altruism is Contagious

In addition to how selflessness can make you happier, it also triggers an area of your brain linked with the processing of moral behavior. This rewards your brain, making it more likely that practicing altruism will feel good in the future.

This creates a positive feedback loop (or as Sonja Lyubomirsky puts it, “a cascade of positive social consequences”) which hopefully leaves an impression on your listeners to inspire them as speakers. Being good to others makes them try to be better towards everyone else.

Conclusion

Altruism is a key trait that has helped our ancestors survive the harshest conditions – enduring the hardest challenges through greater cooperation. It takes a little step to show the smallest amount of care for the welfare of others. The benefits could snowball into something greater – to the benefit of you and your pitch.

Unsurprisingly, being kind to your fellow human beings is unambiguously good for humanity. Being kind to others makes you appear more relatable, which makes your audience reach out to you more. Doing good deeds doesn’t only make other people happier – it also makes you, yourself, feel better.

Even better, doing good for one person will cause a chain reaction, wherein people will pass the good deed on to other people. This is especially advantageous for you if you started it, as people will be able to trace the initial seed of goodwill back to you.

What’s good for humanity is also good for your sales presentation skills.

 

References

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. “Happiness for a Lifetime.” Greater Good. July 15, 2010. Accessed August 20, 2015.
Simon-Thomson, Emiliana R. “Is Kindness Really Its Own Reward?Greater Good. June 1, 2008. Accessed August 20, 2015.
Using Common Values in PowerPoint Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. April 21, 2015. Accessed August 20, 2015.

3 Reasons to Single-Task: Learning the Art of Mindfulness

While multitasking helps your productivity in some aspects, it does more harm than good for presenters. Though always being prepared for the unexpected lets you stay on top of any situation, being mindful of your audience makes you an effective presenter, increasing your chances of successfully engaging them and delivering your message.

Public speaking trainer, Gary Genard, presents mindfulness as a key skill in crafting an effective pitch. Mindfulness means paying attention to what happens in the present. For Genard, this skill lets you achieve total audience engagement in your professional presentations, letting you focus on connecting with them and meeting their needs.

Here’s our own take on the benefits of single-tasking:

1. Single-Tasking Lets You Focus

Some people believe that single-tasking isn’t as productive. However, focusing on one thing at a time allows the speaker to concentrate on a particular task at hand, improving your stage presence and connecting you with your audience. Aside from your interactive PowerPoint slides or speech, single-tasking enables you to speak to the crowd without being distracted.

While distractions are unavoidable, remaining focused strengthens your message’s impact. It also boosts your confidence and reduces your anxiety, knowing that you’re in full control of the situation. Consider these ways to help you attain mindfulness and become a more effective presenter:

2. Single-Tasking Keeps You Mentally Present

Multitasking won’t be helpful especially when you begin worrying about what your audience thinks of you on the stage. Allowing yourself to be distracted might lose your audience’s attention and prevent them from getting interested.

Since your audience is your main priority, your mind should be set on achieving their needs and wants to show that you care about them. Being mentally present also allows you to convey your topic’s most significant points as you involve your audience in your presentation.

3. Single-Tasking Helps You Develop a Single Objective

Knowing your main purpose lets you limit your ideas to an amount you can control, and lets you organize your thoughts for crafting your pitch. Once you have your topic, list down all the information you’ll include and come up with a simple objective for your pitch.

Do you want them to take action? Do you want them to form small groups to discuss your topic with each other? This lets you fulfill your main goal, preventing clients from being overwhelmed with complex details.

Conclusion

Learning this discipline helps you to set your mind on what you’re presently doing. Instead of overthinking things that might negatively affect your performance, focus on the most important element of your presentation – your audience.

Focus on one thing at a time without trying to juggle multiple tasks at once. Being focused means you’re more directly engaged with your audience, not distracted by a million little things you feel like you have to address all at the same time. Single-tasking also means you can condense your presentation with a single objective in mind. With less to worry about, you can direct all your resources to achieving that one goal in the most effective way.

Stay focused and see how your audience does the same thing for you.

To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

 

References

Genard, Gary. “Mindfulness: A Key Skill in Effective Public Speaking.The Genard Method. October 13, 2013. Accessed August 19, 2015.
Presentation Tips: 5 Quick Steps to Audience Engagement.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 16, 2014. Accessed August 19, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “Intel Engineers Meditating” by Intel Free Press on flickr.com

5 Sales Presentation Tricks from Advertising Agency Gurus

Advertising agencies and presenters both sell products and services using effective messages, be it in the conference room, a lecture hall, a television, or a webinar.

The problem is that the regular customer or client is subjected to several messages from different companies, each trying to get their products ahead of the competition.

You have to go beyond offering what your competition can’t, because almost all competing companies employ the same strategy.

The Challenge

People construct several standards before making purchase-related decisions. This is what renowned author, Jim Aitchison, calls a personal cage.

A personal cage is composed of all the experiences, knowledge, morals, and ethics we gain as we grow.

These standards affect how we see and interpret every message we encounter, especially advertisements and sales pitches.

Building your personal cage happens throughout your whole life.

If the bars of the cage act as filters, find relevant messages that pass through these and sell your sales presentation ideas.

The Five Tricks

The Signpost

Signpost messages signify changes in certain kinds of behavior.

As Aitchison cites in his book, Cutting Edge Advertising, the Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola story is a classic marketing example.

When Michael Jackson became Pepsi’s new icon, they positioned themselves as the drink of the next generation. This led to many Coke drinkers permitting themselves to change those standards.

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone’s third quarter market share in 2008, he signified that times were changing for the US smartphone market.

Within the first 90 days of its shipment, he showed the iPhone as a potential investment for customers and business partners alike.

A Newsflash

Introducing a new product or service in an ad pitch is challenging for any startup company, especially product launch advertisements.

Position your message as a piece of news, like how Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007.

First, he built interest by announcing that Apple reinvented a new product type.

Then, he briefly explained the current competition’s weaknesses: fixed keypads and limited functions.

It was only after all this that he introduced what made the iPhone different and showed the actual product with its full touchscreen capabilities.

This generates strong interest in your offer and highlights what makes you different and more appealing from other brands.

A Message of Support

People always look for something to rationalize an emotional need.

Will people buy an expensive sports car to enhance their personal image?

Will a company invest in a health insurance program to let employees feel that their well-being matters?

Make clients feel that they’re understood. This matches their behavior (in this case, investing in your proposal) with their desires and attitudes.

An Existing Standard of the Client

Since your message is consistent with what your audience already believes in, they’re more likely to respond if you give something that reinforces their beliefs.

Citing CreditUnion’s correspondence with Kraft CEO, Robert K. Deromedi, Demand Media’s Vanessa Cross discusses the mechanics of values-based marketing, particularly its customer-centric nature.

Kraft wanted to reach out to parents who believed in giving their kids a proper meal, so the company pulled out their junk food advertising to establish credibility with their intended customers.

Shared Experiences

Like the way TED Talk speakers relate their presentations to personal experiences, offering another person’s perspective sells your message.

Some experiences mirror your own, even at a conceptual level. This includes being plagued with restrictive problems then solving it intuitively.

Look into your company’s product or service history. Did someone have a eureka moment after a long observation? Did someone experience something that led to developing what you sell?

Everything has an interesting story behind it. Your sales pitch is no exception.

Everyone has something to dream about: a new house, a better car, a more luxurious lifestyle, etc.

Everyone wants something, especially your clients. Make your sales pitch interesting enough to pass through your clients’ standards.

Want to know more about using these five tricks more effectively? Hire SlideGenius, your presentation partner, to help you out.

References

5 TED Talk Secrets for Persuasive PowerPoint Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed June 5, 2015.
Aitchison, Jim. Cutting Edge Advertising: How to Create the World’s Best Print for Brands in the 21st Century. Singapore; New York: Prentice Hall, 2004.
Cross, Vanessa. “The Goals of Values-Based Marketing.” Chron. Accessed June 5, 2015.

How to Work with a Professional PowerPoint Designer

Even with a working knowledge of PowerPoint, there will be times when you’d rather hire a presentation designer than work on it on your own. Either you’re too busy and don’t have the time or the event is too important for a DIY presentation. In any case, having a professionally designed PowerPoint gives you a number of advantages.

For one, you can be sure that your slides are given a lot of tender, loving care. You know can’t go wrong once you step in front of your potential audience with your PowerPoint. Professional PowerPoint designers can certainly come up with attractive and mind-blowing designs. They don’t even need your help or input at all, right? Wrong.

There’s more to working with presentation designers than telling them your preferred design and paying for their expertise. There are still some things expected of you to ensure that your presentation would look unique and not as though it was made using a cookie cutter template. To make the most of your collaboration (and your budget), here are some tips that you may want to follow when working with a designer:

Prepare your content

Unless you want your presentation to contain generic stock photos, you’ll need to provide your designer with appropriate materials to use. You also have to make sure that the text data is complete and ready.

This way, the designer can work on your PowerPoint immediately and get it done according to your time frame.

Communicate properly

Your designer needs to understand your objectives for your presentation. If for some reason you’re going to be busy for the next couple of days, be sure to provide him or her with a description of what you want your slides to convey. This includes the general style, feel, and tone.

If there are any specific colors and typeface that you want, then say so. Avoid giving general instructions such as “make it look awesome” or telling the designer to “surprise me.” Vague instructions can be interpreted in many different ways and really “surprise” you in the end.

Trust your designer’s instinct

When in doubt, put your trust on your designer. For sure, he or she has an extensive experience and the right skills to deliver great results.

If you have some ideas that wouldn’t jive with the overall presentation design, let your designer work on a solution. After all, you’re working with an expert.

Conclusion

Working with a professional PowerPoint designer is not a one-way street. Both of you want the same thing: A well-designed PowerPoint presentation that will leave a great impression. So, as much as possible, be open to suggestions and if you’re presented with a concept, respond constructively.

Keep in mind that successful projects are generally the result of a great collaboration between two people who respect each other’s skills and capabilities.

 

Reference

Colors and Typography.” Virginia Tech. Accessed June 27, 2014.