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 Balancing Act
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Did You Know?

Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is among the most common fears, and prevents many people from achieving their potential.

However, based on research and data from a variety of sources, including the National Speakers Association, Dale Carnegie, Forbes and, there are a number of misconceptions about the subject that, once clarified, might improve your ability to make excellent presentations.

For example, it might be helpful to know that, contrary to popular belief, in the vast majority of cases your audience wants you to succeed! This knowledge alone can go a long way to reduce the stress associated with addressing a group of people or potential customers.

Here are the real facts about five additional issues that can help you speak better in public and make more persuasive presentations:

Prepare "properly." We all know it is vitally important to be well prepared. Aside from producing good content, the ritual of preparing significantly impacts your ability to speak with conviction and confidence; and the ability to present a subject with confidence directly affects your audience's impressions and will help keep their attention. But preparation alone does not guarantee success; and it's also possible to over-prepare by trying to memorize information or avoid missing a word or making a mistake. This approach tends to increase stress, lower confidence levels and most often results in a poor performance.

Conciseness is good. Too much information or the belief that you can "wow them with lots of facts" is one of the most frequent mistakes a presenter can make. In fact, many studies have shown that people remember very few of the facts or information speakers convey. While you may choose to include lots of facts and information, you only need to make two or three main points to have your presentation be successful. You can even have your whole talk be about only one key point, if you wish or if it's the best way to achieve your goals. Set a manageable number of clear objectives and stick to them.

Never read your material. Connect with the audience first and then speak from the heart. The details are not as important as you might think. In his book Silent Messages a Primer of Nonverbal Communication, author Albert Mehrabian writes, "55% of how people receive your message is related to their visual perception of you as you speak, 38% is related to your tone of voice and just 7% has to do with the particular words you use. All this boils down to the fact that it's not what you say… it's how you say it."

Speak at a level the audience can understand; avoid the use of confusing jargon or industry acronyms.

Body language counts. Make eye contact with the people to whom you're speaking, whether it's an audience of one or one-hundred. Professional posture is also important, as are appropriate facial expressions.

 Selling Quotes
"Two monologues do not make a dialogue."
—Jeff Daly 
"Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people."
—William Butler Yeats 
"As I grow older, I pay less attention to what people say. I just watch what they do."
—Andrew Carnegie 
"Be amusing: never tell unkind stories; above all, never tell long ones."
—Benjamin Disraeli 
Paul Charles & Associates
519 Mammoth Rd - Londonderry, NH 03053
[603] 537-1190
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The best sales presentations contain the right mix of information flow and interactivity, and are uniquely balanced to best fit audience interests, needs and priorities.

However, while this approach might seem straightforward, people on the listening end frequently report a high percentage of presentations are woefully out of balance. Some are weighted down with too many facts and figures, while others lack supporting examples or testimonials; most are too long and contain few, if any, questions; and far too many conclude without a call to action or consequential next step.

Assuming sufficient preparation and effective delivery — that is, appropriate levels of enthusiasm, eye contact and tone variation — the ideal selling presentation, regardless of length, should contain a strategic balance of seven key ingredients:

  1. Statement of purpose or clear objectives
  2. Information: features, facts and data (properly researched)
  3. Benefits: how the information will solve audience problems, satisfy needs or improve situations
  4. Supporting documentation: examples, stories and testimonials
  5. Interactivity: questions to engage listeners and to confirm their understanding and buy-in
  6. Summary: a concise reminder of objectives and identification of conclusions
  7. Call-to-action: the specific next steps we would like our audience to take. It's not a selling presentation if it doesn't include a close!

Whether making an "elevator pitch" or a formal presentation, we will be significantly more persuasive and will most assuredly enjoy greater success if these seven elements are incorporated into our delivery.

Balancing Worksheet
If you'd like to measure the degree to which your presentations are balanced, you might use the worksheet below. While the best mix of "ingredients" will vary depending upon the audience and circumstances, approximate guidelines are shown on a percentage basis.


Download full-size worksheet

The easiest evaluation method is to record a presentation and, while listening to the recording afterward, enter a check mark into the appropriate column on the worksheet each time a fact or benefit is stated, a story or example related, a question asked, and so on. Alternatively, or as a quality check, a trusted colleague or friend can be invited to listen to a presentation (or ride along on a real sales call!) and make notes on the worksheet while doing so.

Either way, the objective is to increase awareness of the actual degree to which current presentations are balanced, and to continually improve delivery and communication skills so it becomes natural to incorporate all of the elements into every selling presentation.

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A Few Quick Seconds...

Here are a couple of related articles from past issues you might have missed, and which generated especially positive feedback:

Rate the Power of Your Presentations
When making presentations it is sometimes difficult to impart the ideal quantity of information to customers and prospects. Some are too busy, others disinterested, and there are those who just "don't want to hear it" because they are inclined to buy elsewhere or because they are under the impression that they are already well enough informed.

So as we vie for their time and attention, and without realizing it, it's often easy to leave-out the most important parts…

Read full article

Selling Presentations
While closing sales is a good thing on which to be focused, the fact is that closing is really a natural occurrence — a simple, logical step in a process — if set up properly.

One proven way of doing just that is to structure and deliver selling presentation that "sell."

Read full article