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The Hows of Concise Presentations

Technology gives easy access to information and a more convenient way of living.

These benefits, however, have disadvantages, including impatience, shorter attention spans.

As the average attention span gets shorter, you should capture and hold their focus. One way is to ensure that those blocks of text are condensed and concise.

Let’s look at the following principles according to the Writing Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

Make It Action-Packed

Make your PowerPoint slide design more engaging by transforming your sentences from having a passive voice to a more active voice. This minimizes the confusion and frustrations.

Trim the Fat

Delete unnecessary words. And start with phrases.

Instead of “we are able to” change it to “we can.” Remove length and keep its meaning.

Positivity Is Key

According to Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, another tip to make your language more precise is by changing a negative sentence into an affirmative one. Inserting positivity in your sentence makes it assertive and shows the speaker knows what they are talking about.

Quoting The Elements of Style, “…the reader is dissatisfied with being told what is not; he wishes to be told what is.”

Keep It Simple

Another way for people to keep their attention to what you’re saying and showing is by using simple vocabulary to convey your point.

The best practice is to make sure that you keep things as simple as possible for your target audience. Don’t confuse them. For example, you can substitute “use” for “utilize” or “help” for “facilitate.” Be direct and avoid fluff.

Be Clear

Avoid using vague ideas in your paragraphs. It’s better to go straight to the point since you’re trying to give your point before the audience’s attention wanders.

“Sugar is an important factor to consider when losing weight.”

“To lose weight, cut back on sugar.”

The first sentence meanders while the second one is compact and straight to the point.

Once you have your content pat down, you may now format your slides for a cleaner look.

Make Your Presentation the Best

You may even get in touch with businesses that build custom PowerPoint slides. At SlideGenius, we’ve been helping people create captivating presentations since 2012. We’ve helped our clients raise more than $500 million dollars over the years.

For thousands of clients, we have proven to be the masters of storytelling and vivid imagery. If you’re eager to make sure your PowerPoint presentation is the best, reach out to us and find out how we can help you make sure you are showing the world your value.

Public Speaking 101: Should You Read from a Script or Not?

There are four ways to deliver a speech: reciting it from memory, learning it by heart, using notes for reference, and reading it from a script word for word. The method you should use will depend on the type of speaking engagement and the personal circumstances you find yourself in.

Memorizing your speech is rarely a good idea because the artificiality of it makes your delivery sound stilted. You may risk sounding monotonous when the natural inflection of your voice disappears. Also, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll deliver a seamless presentation because your focus is shifted from getting the message across to getting the words right.

Learning your speech by heart and trying to wing it without notes can work. However, it can be risky because when you lose your train of thought, you’ll have nothing to rely on to get you back on track. The best method is to use notes because at least you have something to fall back on when you lose your footing. It can also help you transition from one idea to the next.

While learning all this is good, we’re not really here to talk about the three ways of delivering a presentation. Instead, we’re here to understand the fourth: reading directly from a script. Script reading is a practice that is highly discouraged, unless you’re a person of politics who needs to deliver a speech exactly as it’s written. If you’re a student delivering a report or a business executive making a pitch, there’s no excuse for you to read from your notes at all. This is a basic public speaking convention that you should know by default.

Why Reading from a Script Is Discouraged

You may be tempted to bring a script to your next public speaking gig and read it word for word. It’s luring because you don’t have to memorize or learn your speech by heart anymore. Everything you have to say is literally in your hands. It makes you feel secure because, in theory, you can’t lose your train of thought. It’s effortless preparation-wise. So, if it’s so reassuring, why do professionals advise against it? There are plenty of reasons, and we’ll explain three of them:

  • A written speech rarely translates to an oral discussion. We don’t speak the same way as we write. Words that are written for the eye (i.e. grammatical, syntactic, generally well-structured) don’t always sound well to the ears. If you want to sound conversational, you need to write the same way as you talk.
  • A script shifts attention from the audience. Reading from a script requires you to look at your notes, and this shifts your gaze away from the audience and limits your interaction with them. As a result, your delivery loses the personal touch it needs. You’re basically just standing there aloof, with your audience feeling left out. They feel like they’re listening to a monologue rather than taking part in a dialogue in which their opinions matter.
  • Your words and actions are measured and limited. A script limits both your words and actions. You’re not free to use whatever manner of delivery you like because you’re corralled into the four edges of your cheat sheet. Aside from this, reading from a script can add a physical barrier between you and the audience: a lectern. This barrier will only fortify the walls you’ve built, ultimately resulting to a disconnect.

Planning for the Inevitable: Tips When Reading Your Speech

Without a doubt, no matter how many times you’re warned, you’ll always find an excuse to deviate from what’s recommended. So, to help you minimize the repercussions of reading from a script during a public speaking engagement, here are four tips for you to apply:

1. Employ the scoop-and-speak technique

For this to work, you need to print your notes in large font and have them written on the top portion of a document so that your eyes don’t have to stray down too far. Every time you pause, look at your notes, and before reciting what you’ve scooped, look at the audience again. Eye contact is crucial in public speaking. When reading from your notes, you don’t have to keep it a secret and act surreptitiously. Just chill out and act natural.

2. Draft a dialogue, not a declaration

Even if you’re reading from a script, you should try to not look like it. When drafting your speech, make sure to use common conversational words that sound natural when spoken. Use informal language; otherwise, you’ll just sound foreign and distant. Be mindful of the natural cadences and rhythms of spontaneous speech, and make sure to apply them throughout your presentation. To improve your vocal variety, you can adjust your facial gestures to match your words.

3. Don’t use your slide deck as a script

Your PowerPoint presentation is not a script, so don’t treat it as such. Instead, make separate notes that you can use as guide. You can also use the Notes feature in PowerPoint. It has a Presenter’s View that can let you see your notes for a selected slide without the audience seeing them. Just make sure to practice using your script beforehand so that you won’t get lost in the middle of the presentation.

4. Mind the structuring of your text

Break long blocks of text by using headings, subheadings, line breaks, and pauses. Use signals to help you break down the text and cue you as to where to begin and end, or what to stress and blend. You can even add instructional annotations along the margins to make everything crystal clear.

When you’re in a pickle and you have no choice but to read from a script, follow the tips above. However, in any other situation, try to explore other ways of delivering your presentation. Don’t limit yourself to the four edges of a page. Instead, allow your mind to roam free without straying too far from your core message. This is, after all, what being an effective public speaker means.

Resources:

Dlugan, Andrew. “How to Make Reading a Speech Not Like Reading a Speech.” Six Minutes. December 7, 2011. sixminutes.dlugan.com/reading-your-speech

Marshall, Lisa B. “Read, Memorize, or Use Notes.” Quick and Dirty Tips. September 23, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/read-memorize-or-use-notes

Matthews, Alan. “Pros and Cons of Using a Script When Speaking.” Alan Matthews Training. May 13, 2015. alanmatthewstraining.com/2015/05/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-script-when-speaking

Wyeth, Sims. “Do You Read from a Script? Should You” Presentation Guru. April 20, 2017. www.presentation-guru.com/do-you-read-from-a-script-should-you

What Makes a Successful Finance Presentation?

When conducting a business presentation that revolves around finance, it’s important that the data resonates with the audience without it being too much to take in. While you want to be transparent and show them the big picture, you wouldn’t want to exhaust them by going over every figure.

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Here are ways to make your financial presentation effective and understandable:

Clarify your objectives

Make sure you know what your presentation is for. Clarify what you want to achieve by talking about finance in a room full of people. For example, if you want to talk about yearend revenues, your objective could revolve around how this affects your company in the present and in the upcoming year.

As part of custom PowerPoint presentation planning, set an agenda, as this makes it easier for the audience to follow the flow of your discussion—it organizes your content into sections. With a sound agenda, you can set the financial scene and work toward the reveal of important data.

Having a clear agenda helps your audience save questions for the appropriate sections, which in turn benefits you in maintaining your momentum.

Don’t just show data—tell a story.

You can’t just project numbers and graphs on the screen and expect your audience to what it is and what it’s about—you need to go into detail and tell the story behind the data. This is where you can provide insight and share your business goals with your audience—you’ll want to discuss why these numbers are important to the company.

Pro tip: follow the three-part story structure and divide your narrative into three parts—the beginning, middle, and end.

Start by describing things as they are. That way, you create rapport with your audience and if you share an idea they are already familiar with, then that will engage them more.

Once you’ve laid all the facts, show them how things could change. Make sure that you cite reliable sources to increase your credibility as a speaker.

When it comes to the conclusion, make it inspiring—or as Nancy Duarte calls it, “new bliss.” This concept refers to telling the audience about how much better their world will be if they adopt your ideas.

Go beyond charts and graphs.

Presentation design helps make your topic become more understandable. Charts and graphs are great for representing important figures, including market shares and revenue for the quarter or fiscal year.

To win the hearts of your audience, however, simple graphics are not going to cut it—try experimenting with data visualization to communicate financial messages more efficiently.

Make your presentation a two-way conversation.

When your presentation becomes a monologue, your audience becomes less engaged—less involved—with your discussion.

Make your audience’s financial priorities a topic for discussion at some point in your presentation. Asking them questions and for their feedback helps them retain information better because they become directly involved.

How you communicate data has a significant effect on how your audience will perceive it. Discussing financial information is a hit or miss, especially when figures and complex data are flashed on the screen, which is why you need to present details in a manner they can relate to.

Lastly, remember not to dump data on your slides—stand back and think about what you need to include. Your custom PowerPoint presentation should only contain key financial statements and talk around them in detail later in the discussion.

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References:

Duarte, Nancy. “Structure Your Presentation Like a Story.” Harvard Business Review. October 31, 2012. hbr.org/2012/10/structure-your-presentation-li

Ashe-Edmunds, Sam. “How to Give a Presentation on the Financial Information of a Company.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/give-presentation-financial-information-company-61420.html

 

Bullet Points and Why They Matter to Your Presentation

Many articles online provide profound insights on how to charm your audience, retain attention when speaking in public, or create the best presentation for the right purpose. And for the most part, there have been similarities that can be seen in almost every piece. One of the many from presentation experts is: “Don’t ever use bullet points. You don’t need them.”

What warranted the general avoidance? Is it because it’s primarily considered the reason for death by PowerPoint (DbP)? If you consider bullet upon bullet in different slides, then sure, you can call the whole thing as walls of text. Given that humans favor the visual over the textual, audiences will be bored by all the reading.

But did you know “death by bullet points” exists? Symptomatic, not synonymous, to DbP, overuse and misuse of bullet points have always been every audience member’s nightmare. And it has happened more than once, much to the annoyance of the crowd. Does that mean that bullet points should be avoided?

Not necessarily. Bullet points are useful in specific situations, and in the proper context, they’re your best tool. Here are a few reasons why they matter.

Optical Break Bullet Points

Optical Break

Reading can be strenuous for the eyes, especially when you have a big block of text in one slide. While seeing this word wall can be intimidating for some, others would just outright not read it. Those who attempt will find themselves blinking more since their eyes dry out from, unsurprisingly, not blinking (because they’re reading).

Bullet points put line breaks on long passages, not just with the negative space from the background but also with clear markers on where a specific item begins and ends. Shorter bits of text are more welcome since they’re easier to understand, digest, and remember. Any form of relaxation is pleasant for your eyes.

Organizing information | Bullet Points

Organized Information

In the same way that your eyes need a break, your brain also needs a breather when trying to comprehend a long paragraph—much less a lengthy sentence. This is where bullet points shine.

Dissect the text, then separate and summarize the main points. Those summations can then be what you can put on your bullets. That brevity is already a big plus; how much more if they’re fascinating?

Think of bullet points as the “too long; didn’t read” (TL;DR) version, the abridged edition, of your long paragraph. By bulleting the main points, you can shorten a sixty-word section to merely a fraction of that, saving your audience’s time. Plus, they get to listen to you more.

Overall readability | Bullet Points

Overall Readability

Which would you rather see: a big block of words or a bulleted list? Which of the two is cleaner and easier on the eyes and is therefore more readable? Most, if not all, would say the latter, especially when the layout is planned properly. With the former, you risk instances of misreading since there are too many words and lines all bunched up in one place.

Keep your slides neat and tidy by having few words—and relatively fewer bullet points—in them. Prevalent enough is the 6×6 rule, stating that you should have no more than six bullets with six or fewer words each in a slide. There’s also the “three words and four bullets per slide” rule.

The Last Bullet Point

There’s a reason why bullet points are overused, and consequently are now being mistreated for it. Just like the Comic Sans fiasco, most people are tired of seeing bullets in almost every presentation they attend. However, that’s not a reason to ignore and neglect the importance and benefits of using this tool.

Of course, you should always exercise moderation; there is such a thing as death by bullet points. A good way to avoid that is by not overloading your slides with bullets, which can be just as bad as a wall of text. In short, know when and when not to use them.

Your slides are your visual aid, so making them clean is on you—and for your audience.

Resources:

Bruce, Robert. “8 Quick Tips for Writing Bullet Points People Actually Want to Read.” Copyblogger. February 7, 2012. www.copyblogger.com/writing-bullet-points

Clark, Brian. “Little Known Ways to Write Fascinating Bullet Points.” Copyblogger. October 23, 2006. www.copyblogger.com/little-known-ways-to-write-fascinating-bullet-points

Crerar, Paula. “PowerPoint Bullet Points: Do We Need Them?” Brainshark. January 24, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/January/powerpoint-bullet-points-do-we-need-them

Paradi, Dave. “How to Write Powerful Bullet Points.” Think Outside the Slide. n.d. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/how-to-write-powerful-bullet-points

“10 Ways to Avoid Death by Bullet Points.” Presentitude. March 4, 2015. www.presentitude.com/10-ways-avoid-death-bullet-points

“Comic Sans: Why All the Hate?” Snapily. January 8, 2013. www.snapily.com/blog/comic-sans-why-all-the-hate

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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4 Ways to Boost Your Likeability in Business Presentations

A likeable image has nothing to do with physical beauty. Looking the part might give you a charismatic appeal, your characteristics as a speaker are what actually attract interest, and engage your listeners.

Make a winning impression and boost your business relationships by working on what keynote speaker Tim Sanders calls the likeability factor. Presentation trainer, Cath Daley presents a list of questions that can help you determine your scale of likability. This involves aspects of your personality such as friendliness, relevance, empathy, and realness.

Here’s how you can enhance your innate traits to become a more likeable individual and more effective speaker:

Show Genuine Friendliness

The simple acts of smiling and disclosing some personal information make you look approachable and interesting. While a neutral face may sometimes be more appropriate in formal occasions, showing some emotion where needed connects your audience further to you. Communicate appreciation with small courtesies such as saying “thank you.”

Maintaining a professional reaction towards negative feedback also adds a more congenial feel to your business presentations.

Make Yourself Relatable

“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self. “ – Dean Jackson

The skills to listen and to engage are not only essential in achieving life success, but also in attaining business growth. Demonstrating responsiveness during your pitch creates room for audience participation.

Express your willingness to understand their comments and observations about your presentation.

Express Passion and Compassion

If there’s one thing that Steve Jobs taught us about doing great work, it’s to love what you do. Business deals are closed when potential clients feel that you can offer them benefits. This is why your passion to inform your audience makes you a more likeable presenter.

Signify your intent by acknowledging your audiences’ needs and providing information that is designed to help them without difficulty.

Embrace Authenticity

Combine humility and positive vulnerability with your expertise to create authenticity. Show your listeners that you’re a human being with a sincere message. Share a personal experience that’s directly related to your pitch to add a human touch to the hard data you may be presenting.

Being confident without being arrogant makes you closer to your audience.

Conclusion

Become a likeable presenter to attract and engage your audience effectively. Increase your likeability factor to create meaningful connections that boost your business success.

Looking for pitch perfect slide presentations? Give us a call at 1-858-217-5144 or request a free quote from Slide Genius today.

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References

“Are You a Likeable Presenter? Which of These 10 Key Characteristics Apply to You?” CathDaley. Accessed July 30, 2015.
Body Language: Signify Intent with Movement.SlideGenius, Inc. October 20, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2015.
The Likeability Factor.” Tim Sanders. Accessed July 30, 2015.
Three Powerful Ways to End Your PowerPoint Presentation.SlideGenius, Inc. May 18, 2015. Accessed July 30, 2015.

3 Ways to Improve Public Relations for Your Business

A good product stays just that – a good product – unless it gets a boost that enhances its marketability.

Don’t let the fruits of your labor slip into anonymity.

Access your target market through a strategic marketing plan and effective public relations effort.

Increased publicity will give your business the boost it needs.

Networking

One of the most instinctive ways to build your public relations is through networking.

Whether consciously or not, you form a network with individuals you encounter as you build up your business.

These can come in the form of long-time customers or corporate partners.

Even your employees and personal friends are part of your network.

If you’re still starting out, it’s time to prioritize these relationships.

Take care of your employees by giving benefits and convincing them your vision is worth believing.

Individuals whose beliefs are aligned with yours will be ready to support your enterprise.

Similarly, customers who follow your work and favor your product can recommend you to their own friends and family.

Aside from these person-to-person cases, you can also expand your network the old-fashioned way.

Forge partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations relevant to your field.

You’ll be able to help each other out when it comes to resources and promotion.

Build Your Reputation

To impress people enough to convince them to invest requires plenty of self-exposure.

Showcase your product – and make it appealing.

Strategize your marketing plan and assess your product’s strengths and weaknesses.

Develop your product’s strong points and emphasize your advantages over the competition.

You can start small by relying on your personal network to endorse you.

But once you’re ready, you can present yourself to prospective clients.

This may come in the form of press releases or public presentations.

If you’re pitching to a journalist, make sure you craft the right message.

You can tease them with a preliminary pitch that will get them interested enough to ask for more details.

For public presentations, make sure to strike a balance between content and delivery.

Prepare an outline of all your main ideas with a professionally-made PowerPoint to boot.

This keeps your audience’s attention while getting all the important points across.

Social Media

The Internet plays an undeniably huge role in our lives.

Use it to promote your business by tapping into social media.

Make a site where you can advertise your product or service.

You can see how well you’ve drawn your target market in by monitoring site traffic.

The more people follow your page, share your tweets, or visit your website, the more likely that you’ve caught their attention.

It also makes your profile available to interested investors.

Keep an eye out for influencers online who can help promote you to virtual audiences.

These influencers will also require pitches that are relevant to their own interests.

This is best for making sure you contact the right individual or organization.

As much as social media can give you a leverage, always keep yourself grounded in your original objectives.

Don’t overstep personal boundaries to get undue exposure.

You need to maintain your credibility to keep your clients.

Conclusion

Building your public relations is important for promoting your product.

This can be achieved in a number of ways.

Reach out to your personal network, or expose yourself to a wider audience through presentations and social media.

A combination of the two is even better.

This ensures more feedback from a greater number of people.

 

References

Honeysett, Alex. “4 Steps to Pitching a Guest Post (and Getting a “Yes!”).” How to Pitch a Guest Blog. Accessed October 21, 2015.
Measuring and Improving Your PR”. Queensland Government Business and Industry Portal. October 9, 2014. Accessed October 21, 2015.
Raposo, Kevin “How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Journalists.” BuzzStream. May 13, 2014. Accessed October 21, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “PR” by Niuton may on flickr.com

Product Demo 101: Learning the Basics

What’s one of the best ways to convert potential clients into paying customers? Aside from presentations where you get to wow your audience, there’s another scenario where you can achieve the same results. Imagine it: You already have a prototype of the product you’re trying to market, and you’re looking for people who will gladly take your offer; you think an amazing deck won’t be enough, so you decide to take things up a notch and do a demo.

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However, you don’t know the first thing about product demos. Sure, you’re a rock star when it comes to presentations and public speaking, but demonstrations can be different. For one, instead of handling two important elements—yourself and your deck—you add one more: your product. And balancing that act can be stressful, especially when you’ve got hundreds of eyes staring at you and you know that a lot is at stake. Another is that there’s a new dynamic in audience engagement, a level that places you closer to them—and them to you and your product.

Look at the bright side, though. If you do remarkably well, then you’re sure that your audience will take a good, long, hard look at your product. And when they like what they see, they might just want to have your offer. Then, you’re on your way to closing deals left and right. But that is if you do remarkably well.

So, how do you go from A to Z of a product demo? What can you expect from showing off your product in front of a live audience? Are there even benefits to doing so? How do you even begin preparing and how do you start off a demo? Let the following infographic tutor you on the basics of a product demo, and the dos and don’ts during the proverbial curveballs during your time onstage.

Resources:

Kokemuller, Neil. “The Purpose & Benefits of a Product Demonstration.” Chron. n.d. www.smallbusiness.chron.com/purpose-benefits-product-demonstration-55113.html

Presenting Your Business Pitch with Confidence

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

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

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

How to Boost Your Confidence for a Business Pitch

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

1. Look and sound the part

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

2. Exude conviction from every pore

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

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

3. Know your key differentiator

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

4. Find an external manifestation of success

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

5. Solve problems before they appear

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

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

6. Rehearse and refine your business pitch

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

7. Worry less and just do your part

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

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

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

 

 

 

Resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Types of Customers

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

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

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

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Emotions

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

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

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

Sales Talk 101: Talking to Your Customers with Sales Conversation

Appeal to Aspirations

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

Resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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