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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

3 Tips for Improving Your Presentations

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | Comments Off on 3 Tips for Improving Your Presentations

So, you’ve have been asked to present at a conference. You dust off that PowerPoint and assume you’re ready to go.

Maybe not! Presenting to strangers is different from sharing your knowledge internally or with prospects. You might or might not have to change your content significantly, but you will want to consider these three tips to enhance the audience’s experience.

Make it personal.

I recommend getting to the presentation early. Take some time to speak with at least 3 or 4 attendees. Ask them about themselves and why they have chosen to attend your session. Spend some time understanding what they do and how you might individually help them be more successful.

Before you start on your topic, provide some context and insights about who you are and what you do. You don’t have to prove that you are knowledgeable or an expert. Attendees assume that you know what you’re talking about because you were selected to speak. And, often, someone has read your bio as an introduction before you went on.

Share something about you as a person, potentially something about your “why.” For example, an oncology nurse at a hospital tells a story that she became a nurse because when she was a child she spent many months there as a patient.

Carol Roth often notes that as a result of a consulting engagement at a toy company, they made an action figure of her.

I talk about being one of the first people in the cell phone industry. Success was not obvious then, even though everyone has one now.

Create interactive opportunities.

If the audience is small enough and you have the time, give each person 30 seconds to say who they are and why they are attending this presentation.

If it’s a large audience, talk about two or three of the folks you met at the beginning and what they are looking for, and how you will provide the appropriate insights.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to start your presentation with a question. When I do my Access to Capital presentation, I start by asking the audience where money comes from and where it goes.

Consider giving your audience a short exercise to complete in the middle of the presentation. I talk about using questions and answers to create internet content. I will take a break and ask attendees to write down a question that their customers and prospects ask, and a question they would like to be asked. After the exercise, ask a few attendees to share what they wrote down.

Remember to talk with your audience, not to your slides. Start with the folks you met at the beginning and expand your attendee knowledge with those who participated in any earlier discussions.

Craft your solutions within the context of business problems that were discussed. For example, I had a piano tuner attended one of my programs. We discussed the importance of posting testimonials.

Give examples.

You are most likely an expert in your field with many client engagements under your belt. When discussing a problem that you solved, share a specific story or case study.

For example, I might suggest an attendee put up a detailed form on their website as a solution to a problem they are having, but along with that suggestion, I will provide an example of a manufacturer that I worked with. In this case, when the manufacturer’s prospect filled out the form, the manufacturer had all the information they needed to call and close the sale. The form allowed them to decrease the sales process from four sales calls to only one.

You also might ask some of the thought leaders in the audience for their examples. You might be surprised by their insights. And the examples they share give you the ability to expand and enhance on what was shared by attendees, enabling you to further demonstrate your expertise.

Lastly, provide some time at the end of the presentation for attendees to come up and talk to you one on one. Often, there are some folks who have something to share, but did not want to do it in public.

Spending some time with attendees after the presentation is a great opportunity to exchange business cards and cement relationships.

If you follow these tips, you will be more engaging, and probably generate more business from your presentation.

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.