Why Is An Effective Business Presentation Like A Motorway (Or A Freeway Or Autobahn)?

Back in the fifties, when the concept of a high speed carriageway was first envisaged, the planners thought, as they were intended to enable people to get from A to B as quickly as possible, that they should make motorways as straight as possible. The presumption was that speed and corners do not go well together.

Building them in straight lines would minimise the distance travelled and would reduce the number of accidents, because people would be able to see a long way in front of them and not have to slow down to negotiate bends in the road. Here in the UK, the section of the M1 as it goes north out of London, is a classic example of this style of design. It goes in a straight-line up hill and down dale for miles.

However, there are problems with this style of road design. Primarily, it is boring. Because you can see for miles ahead, you think you know exactly what is coming, and can easily lose concentration. You start thinking about other things rather than driving, some people may even start to fall asleep.

On a busy Friday evening, coming out of London on the M1, all you can see is mile upon mile of brake lights in front of you. There is little so dispiriting.

Modern highways are designed with very few straight sections, they meander across the countryside, frequently turning from side to side. Despite what you may think, this is not the effect of the influential and politically astute landowners who lobbied against the proposed routes of the new highway.

Over the years, highway designers have learnt that sweeping curves make the road more interesting. The bends mean that drivers need to concentrate more, which keeps them more alert. As an added bonus, if you are stuck in a traffic jam, there is always the optimistic view that it will clear just round the next bend, rather than knowing that it goes on and on for miles. So bends are actually safer than straight roads and the journey seem to pass more quickly.

The same design components apply when creating an effective presentation.

Don’t just rush from the start straight to the finish, take people on a journey. Add a few twists and turns, so that your audience discovers new things along the way. Back up your assertions, with a personal story that illustrates the point that you are making. People usually talk with more enthusiasm when they are recounting a personal anecdote, which in turn makes your presentation more interesting to your audience.

So, don’t give people the opportunity to fall asleep in your presentations, take then on a journey of discovery.

How to Make an Effective 10-Minute Presentation

You only have 10 minutes to present before your Chamber group, networking organization or BNI (Business Networking International) group. You’ve never spoken before a group of diverse business peers before and don’t know where to start. If you do your job well, you’ll be well-remembered and well thought-of, but if you don’t…don’t worry – you’ll do fine, as long as you don’t turn your presentation into a sales pitch and you practice what you’re going to say beforehand.

Ten minute presentations can help build your platform, and they can establish your credibility and visibility in your profession, as long as you don’t sell directly to your audience. Of course we’re all in business to make money, but instead of throwing everyone a sales pitch you need to choose a topic that will engage your audience that will prompt them to ask you questions. Your networking peers will then refer people to you who have questions without the fear of being “pushed” into anything. You want to be known as the go-to expert in your field and the resource who helps other people find answers to their problems. You don’t want to have the reputation as the pushy person who keeps hounding you for a sale. Maybe people within your group will buy once from you, but they won’t send you outside referrals and they won’t become repeat customers.

What Should I Talk About?

You should present a topic that you care about and that’s important to people in need of your product or service. You will find these topics by researching blogs in your field, by attending presentations, by conversing with experts in your field and by reading the business section of the newspaper. Have a folder on your desk that is your “idea factory” where you place your topic ideas on slips of paper. Build a habit of carrying around a notepad or index cards (this is good for the car) on which you jot down ideas as they hit you or when you’re on the phone with colleagues or clients. Many professionals swear by using a digital tape recorder and they speak into it when an idea hits them.

As you’re preparing your talk, also prepare a bio that is three to four sentences long. Talk about your experience in your field, your education, where you grew up and what you makes you different from others in your field. Give your bio to whoever is in charge of introducing you so they are prepared and can give you an enthusiastic welcome to your group.

It’s also helpful to write up a handout with bullet points along with your contact information so your group can take notes and has a handy reference sheet to take home with them. Pass this handout out before you begin speaking and copy it on colored paper to make it more eye-catching.

Presentation Tips

When you do get an idea, make sure that your idea is not too big for the presentation. The way to counter going over your time is to give five or seven tips to share with your audience. Use five index cards, write on both sides if you need to and practice your talk before the mirror. Time yourself! Did you go over ten minutes? Did you stumble on passages or specific words?

When it is time to give your talk, relax! You’re among peers who want you to succeed! Remember to smile, maintain eye contact and pause for taking a breath so your voice doesn’t become small and thin. When you’re finished, know that you are well on your way to give more talks and increase your visibility. Now that your peers know your expertise, they’ll be able to give stronger referrals, which will ultimately lead to more business. Congratulations and now prepare for your next ten minute talk!

Using Web Video Conferencing to Host an Effective Online Sales Presentation – 6 Best Practice Tips

Although the most effective way to build strong relationships with your customers is still face-to-face, that is not always practical. Luckily web video conferencing can be almost as effective. Even if your customer or prospective lead lives half way around the world, it is still necessary to host sales meetings and presentations – the impersonal nature of email will only get you so far.

A number of excellent, easy-to-use solutions exist to host your online meeting or webinar. Personally, I’ve used and participated in WebEx meetings many times and always had a positive experience, although their costs can add up quickly as meetings get larger or more frequent. There are more affordable and just as capable and reliable web video conferencing choices out there also for online meetings or webinars.

Here are my 6 top best practices for getting the most out of web video conferencing for successful sales presentations:

  1. The number one thing to remember is that you must treat the web video conferencing meeting as you would a “real” face-to-face meeting: dress professionally, plan the agenda carefully, do not multitask (close your email and other applications before the meeting starts so you have no distractions).
  2. Choose a service provider carefully – you need to be sure they can meet your goals for the meeting in a professional manner;
  3. Be considerate of participants’ time: in a web video conferencing session they are not a captive audience, and will get distracted by email and other business demands if you don’t maintain their interest;
  4. Put together a crisp agenda, with meeting goals and strategies to achieve them;
  5. Have a plan to encourage live interaction. You could have some questions to ask of your customer to spur discussion, or include someone who’s role it is to ask the first questions or add comments to get interaction going;
  6. Have a clear call-to-action at the end of the meeting. Too often web meetings are ended abruptly (after all, since you are not face-to-face, there will not be the usual opportunity for small talk or next steps discussion as the customer is ushering you to the door). Include time in the agenda for wrap up and next steps, with clear action items for the attendees.