Maxims from Mike - 3 Steps to Becoming an Effective Presenter.

Hello Leaders,

Welcome to Today. This week's Leadership and Personal Development tip embraces Presentation Skills.

Maxim: Presenting effectively is a learned skill. Master it and soar!

It's one thing to have a great vision or idea. It's another to be able to communicate it effectively and powerfully. Many great ideas are laid waste because people are often unable to present their ideas in a way for it to be heard and received by the right people. Today, I will share just a few tips on how to give an effective presentation. This will work with large audiences as well as in one on one environments. It's all about effective communication. Let's get right to it.

1. Know your material and internalize it. You must own the topic you will speak on. If you are in sales and are giving an account update, you must know everything there is to know about your customer. Know their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Act as though you are a board member. How would you advise them. Know your competition. Know your customer's competition. Know your numbers! Are sales trending up, down, or staying flat? Why? Know who the true decision makers and influencers are. Often they are not the buyers. Know your industry and the trends.

If you have an idea about improving a product or service, know the strengths and weaknesses about the current offering. Why would the new one be better, faster, or less expensive to manufacture? How long will it take to develop? Is there a demand for the new product? Is the industry expanding or contracting? Will customers pay more for it? Does it align with the strategic direction of the company? Who will benefit because of it? Who are the various stakeholders? Why is this necessary? Will it give the company a strategic advantage?

The more questions you can ask and answer effectively, the more effective your presentation will be. Senior leaders want to know that you have thoroughly thought this through. Lee Iacocca was told by a senior leader if his ideas were great, he should be able to put it in writing. In essence, he knew Iacocca was a master salesman. But putting it in writing meant he would have to have all the facts, know the risks, and present the benefits of his proposal. He could not wing it if it were in writing. Likewise, you cannot wing your presentation if you want your hearers to embrace it and make a positive decision. Don't just know about the information, KNOW IT!

This is very key. Postpone the meeting if you still have data to collect. It is better to be a tad late and prepared than to be a bit early and ill-prepared. There is a caveat. There are times when a decision needs to be made immediately. In this case, you gather the most important facts, prioritize them, and present your case based on the information you have. This is where information and intuition make a powerful combination. When pressed with questions in which you do not have an answer, it is okay to say, "I don't know. Let's find out."

You have great ideas inside of you just waiting to come out. Just learn everything you can about your chosen topic. Own it! Embrace the challenge. You will begin to see things you hadn't noticed before. Ideas will begin to stream through your consciousness. Ask questions of others who know more or have more experience than you in this area. You will be surprised how many people are willing to help. Know your material and internalize it.

2. Know your audience. It is embarrassing to present material to an audience who could not care less about what they are hearing. It is insulting to present over the heads of audiences as well as presenting significantly below their level of experience. For example, a person should not teach about accounting principles to a group of entrepreneurs who came to hear about increasing sales. It's a good message. But it's the wrong audience.

All of your messages need to be tailored to the hearers of it. Do your homework! Often, the purpose of your presentation is to convince others to take a specific action. In sales, you may want your customer to purchase products or services. Your offer should be geared towards the benefits your customer will receive. Present it in a way that fits their style. Consider these four styles.

  1. If your customer wants to hear the facts and nothing but