Beginning and experienced professionals often struggle with the tough issues when giving a presentation to clients.
• How to cover the material their boss says they must
• How to massage the corporate slide deck and still be dynamic
• How to respond to real-life issues and tough questions
• How to handle concerns in just half the time needed
• How to involve participants instead of lecturing
It's hard. But let's face it. It's life.
Instead of complaining about impromptu surprises and time cuts, use a repeatable 4-step model to use for effective business presentations. This model is well known in adult education and training - but little used in many business presentations.
The four steps to stop losing money and start engaging audiences are based in how adults really learn. It's a cycle for encouraging participation instead of talking at attendees. This is, by the way, the remedy that cures 'talking heads' types of presentations.
Follow this cycle once, twice or three times within your presentation - and you'll have people eating out of your hand - and asking you back for more.
Step 1. Experiencing
This phase is all about engaging your audience. It's the perfect prescription if you are used to lecturing or giving a one-directional type of presentation.
Experiencing can be achieved in many ways. Do an exercise with your audience. Talk about shared experiences. Get people talking - instead of lecturing at them.
Let's say you are talking about presentation skills. Share the first time you took a public speaking training. Tell a story from your own experience - such as quaking in my shoes, frozen in the speaker's room, feeling horrified to present to a crowd. Yes, that's true. I'm speaking from personal experience!
One of the most powerful ways to start this off is to share a personal story - and then ask participants for examples of their own. Why does this work so well? You're taking the first step by sharing your own experience and opening up to your audience. This is a great way to jump-start the cycle of interaction.
Step 2. Reflecting
The next step is to share feelings and observations with the group. For instance, ask: "how do you feel about that?" or "what do you notice about these experiences?"
Keeping with our presentation skills training theme, ask about previous times of practicing public speaking. "What was your experience talking to clients?" and, "what do you notice about the public speaking experiences other people are sharing?"
This step may take a bit more time than you're used to allowing. But it has rewards! Once participants share their personal reflections, everyone is paying attention and ready to stay with you for the entire presentation.
Step 3. Expanding
The third step is all about finding meaning. Examine what this experience means. Compare it with similar or related experiences. Find general patterns that these instances have in common.
For example, in exploring presentation skill development, ask: "how is learning to present to a group similar to other times when you learned a new skill?" Or "how is this like learning to drive a car?"
Expanding the experience helps participants connect to their own body of knowledge. They most likely conquered fear of learning how to drive - and they can also overcome nervousness about learning how to give presentations.
Step 4. Taking Action
In every presentation, it's all about action. To encourage participants to take action and apply new insights, make time in the presentation to plan and develop a plan of action.
This may include working in pairs, trios or small groups. Help participants define realistic plans of action. For instance, in learning new presentation skills: ask precise questions such as:
• How will you build skills with e-learning?
• How will you practice the new skills you are learning?
• How often will you watch video tutorials each week?
• How often will you practice and get feedback with a peer?
Define small and distinct action steps so that participants can make progress in applying new insights.
Use these 4-steps to achieve top results in different types of presentations. Leadership speeches. Sales pitches. Training seminars. The more you use this, the more you will see the benefits: you'll stop losing money - and start engaging your audiences.
Plus there's more. You can expect applause, promotions, and rave reviews. Confidence in public speaking is the fastest way to start winning a lot more new business.