Kristin Austin speaker & trainerTwo nights ago I had the great priviledge of being invited to speak to a bunch of small business owners in Sydney about building a better social media presence for their businesses. Rather than being all theory, we dissected the better things each of them could do on their pages and profiles to encourage people to connect – after all, it’s called social media for a reason and social = building a connection.

But this post isn’t about social media per se. Rather last night got me thinking about what constitutes a good presentation. One that people engage in as opposed to sitting there bored to tears (we’ve all been there!). So here are some of the rules that I play by when doing a preso whether that’s to a single business prospect, in a formal business pitch or to a room full of people.

7 tips for winning pitches & presentations

  1. Understand what your audience is expecting. Are they expecting information, how-tos, pricing, practice? Deliver that and add some value just for good measure.
  2. Make it all about them. Even if it’s a pitch, it’s still all about them. That means starting with their problem (or if you don’t know their exact problem, start with common problems). From there you can talk about how you’d go about fixing it if you were them. Talk about research, your own or industry research – that’s how you prove your smarts. If you start with you, what you do, how long you’ve been doing it, some case studies, how smart you are, etc – you’ve pretty well bored them right up front (and you’ve got fidget central).
  3. Ask them questions. And be quiet. Let them know that this is a conversation, not a speech and you expect them to come along for the ride and participate.
  4. Use the names of those in the room. If you’ve got lots of people in the room for an event, talk to a few people beforehand, remember a handful of names and talk to those people and about their industries).
  5. Ignore powerpoint if you can. And if you must use it,
    • Please DON’T READ off the screen. People in your audience can do that for themselves (and they’re done before you’re even half way through – more fidgeting).
    • If you’re using powerpoint or keynote or whatever technology – have pictures up and talk to those. Pictures say 1000 words
    • Don’t be tempted to put up more than 6 lines of text And shrinking your text to less than a font size of 28 to squish it all in isn’t on either.  4-6 words a line is ample
    • If you must use words, use them as punctuation
  6. Be on! No-one cares what happened earlier in your day or how bad traffic was. You’re there to entertain them (even if it’s a serious pitch). Muster all the energy that you have and take them on the journey with you.
  7. Have some kind of call to action at the end (yes, it’s almost always a sales call of some description), so encourage them to ‘do’ something as a result of your time together.

And above all, have fun. People engage more with the people they can see are enjoying themselves and are clearly engaged by what they’re doing.

Kristin is a marketing & communication strategist and trainer who’s been doing the marketing ‘do’ for almost 20 years. She can be found hanging out in social media land – for her clients’ benefit of course. You can follow her @glitteratichic or click on the LinkedIn icon on the right handside to connect there.


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