Business presentations tips for executives, sales presenters, managers, technical experts and professionals from the "Speech Coach for Executives" George Torok. Transform your business presentations into effective conversations. George Torok is a Toronto based presentation coach and presentation skills trainer.
Each conference sponsor had a booth in the tradeshow room
and they were invited to the main stage to say a few words. This was an
important opportunity that many of the sponsors failed to recognize.
Several sponsors took their turn at the microphone and bored
us. They were clearly unprepared. Then one sponsor caught my attention with his first words. I listened to
every word he said. As I looked around, it seemed that he had caught the
attention of the entire audience.
What did this sponsor do differently that made him stand
First read what he said and did and then study my analysis
of why it worked so well. I’ve segmented his presentation into four parts and
added my headings to illustrate the flow of his presentation.
He grabbed our attention with his first words, “Have you
tried to talk with your kids lately?” Then a short pause. “Some days you might
not know whether to reach them via SMS, Facebook or Twitter.”
Then he explained what his company did to help organizations
better manage communication with their customers especially with the demands of
Then he stated his company name and invited people to visit
his booth to discuss the issues and their options.
Then he stated his first name and again invited people to
see him at his (company name) booth.
Now let’s look into the mechanics of what he did.
Most speakers make the mistake of stating their name first.
That’s a bad way to start for three reasons:
1 The audience usually doesn’t hear the name because they
aren’t fully listening yet.
2 If the name is unusual or not enunciated clearly the
audiences doesn’t understand it and thus they don’t remember it. Plus they
might be annoyed.
3 The speaker’s name isn’t of interest to the audience so
the first words don’t grab the attention of the audience and that’s a bad way
to start a presentation. Starting with your name also suggests that you are
going to talk about you instead of the audience or their interests.
Notice how this sponsor grabbed immediate attention and
interest with his first words. Why? Because he was talking about the audience
and something personal that they related to. He didn’t start by talking about
After he knew he had the attention of the audience he
explained what his company did and how it could help the listener. He made it
At this point the audience might be interested to know his
companies name. Remember that the purpose of this self introduction is to draw
visitors to your tradeshow booth. They don’t need the person’s name. They need
to know the company name on the booth. And you need to invite them to visit for
a reason. State a clear call to action.
Now you can state your first name because the audience is
ready to hear it.. Don’t make it difficult for people by giving too much
information too early in the conversation. The real conversation will begin
when they stop by your booth. At this time simply state your first name to
appear approachable. They don’t need to hear or know your last name. Restate
the call to action and end by reinforcing your company name.
To finish nicely, end with a smile and a friendly wave.
Notice the four important stages of your short presentation.
If you think that’s too much work just consider how much money you or your
company invested as a sponsor.
Watch this video to discover:
1. how to take stats from boring to brilliant and
2. how to make charts on your slides more entertaining and instructive.
This video is from a TED talk by Hans Rosling. When I first heard the topic and saw the typical chart displayed I expected a boring lecture. I was delightfully suprised. I enjoyed the presentation and understand his message.
If you thought that a presentation packed with statistics has to be boring, watch this and enjoy.
It happens. You're speaking to a group and you stumble on a word or make a
mistake. The temptation is to immediately blurt out "Sorry" or some variation of
Don't say sorry when you make mistakes during your presentation. Instead,
collect your thoughts as quickly as you can, restate the point correctly and
There are three reasons why you shouldn't say
1. Often many of the people in your audience weren't listening
closely and they missed the error. But when you say "sorry" you
unnecessarily draw attention to the fact that you made a mistake.
2. When you say sorry your brain tends to fixate on the mistakes
instead of your message. That might cause you to become anxious and
feel more nervous about your presentation. Instead focus on your destination,
not the bumps along the way.
3. The more times that your audience hears the word "sorry" the less they
will feel confident about your credibility. This means that every time you say
sorry you are working against yourself. Just imagine if the
pilot of your plane announced every course correction with a "sorry". How might
you feel about the pilot and the flight?
Here are some of the transition phrases that you might
Let me correct that.
What I really mean is...
That didn't come out right.
Let's try again.
Or you could simply pause, smile, and then start that last sentence
What if you didn't notice a factual error when you stated it but recalled it
later? You could say, "I want to correct something that I misstated
Naturally there are exceptions to this rule. If you did or said something
that could have offended the audience then you would issue a sincere apology.
My youngest daughter used to say "oopsies" when she made a mistake. It
sounded cute. When you are the speaker you don't look or sound cute when you
litter your presentation with "oopsies".
Your audience will ignore or pardon simple presentation errors. The key for
you is to look and sound competent so you can deliver your intended message.
What’s the best way to start a sales presentation?
Start with a success story about how you helped one of your
The big mistake is to start with a story about your company,
founder and vision statement. Your prospects don’t care about any part of that.
Instead, start with a story about how you helped a client achieve success.
Describe the initial condition or prospect’s challenge. Tell
how you helped them and then talk about the results.
One of my clients was on a losing streak. He was making
presentations to clients and getting shut out. After I coached the CEO on his
presentation he closed the next deal which meant a $10M deal in his pocket.
I tell this success story in many of my presentation skills
coaching presentations. It’s a powerful start.
question is difficult to solve, but possible"
"You need a
"We'll sort it out."
These phrases are part of a list that the Kremlin has
instructed Russian government officials to avoid using. The reason is that
these phrases are a few of the ones that have been used to extract bribes and
gifts. (As reported in the Guardian)
The Kremlin is hoping to reduce the amount of corruption
within the Russian government. Cutting down on corruption seems like a good
idea. By identifying key words that have been traditionally associated with
corruption the Russians are shining a light on this problem.By banning the use of these phrases they are
stigmatizing the words and hence the practice.
Those seem like a good start because that’s exactly how
society tackles problems with diversity and other social issues.
Language and the choice of analogies shape our thinking –
particularly regarding immoral, illegal or questionable activities.
Business announces “down sizing” instead of firings.
Respect your audience and especially
their time. Develop the habit of starting your meetings and presentations on
time. Do that and people will notice. They'll be more willing to attend your
meetings and they will make the effort to arrive on time.
They will also be in
a better mind set when they notice you starting on time. If you want to annoy
your audience, start late.
Announce the times
(start and end) and provide directions
If it's your meeting,
clearly advise all invitees exactly what time it will start. One trick to
convince people of your intentions is to state an odd time - e.g. 9:03, 1:07,
If your presentation
is the main feature and there are some things happening before you go then it's
a good idea to state that upfront. Imagine attending a concert only to be
forced to endure unannounced warm-up bands for hours before the main act (a la
If your meeting is in
a conference center or hotel, ensure that there are clear directions from the
main entrances to your meeting room. Check with the venue staff.
Plan to arrive early
You get there early.
If you haven't been to this location before be sure to double check the
directions and the map. Allow for travel delays and the potential for bad
If you are travelling
out of town to deliver an important presentation, you might want to arrive the
Check the room and
test your equipment
presentation room before anyone arrives. Get into the room and get comfortable
with it. This is easy to do if you arrived the day before your presentation. At
least plan to arrive one hour before the program begins so you can get into the
Start even if...
At the promised time
start your presentation. If you've checked the room and your equipment then you
are ready to go. If you've clearly communicated the start time and directions
then most of your audience will be ready. Someone will always be late.
To help get people
into their seats and ready as the time to start draws near, announce "Five
minutes to start", "Two minutes to start" and even "We're
starting in 30 seconds."
If your equipment
fails just before your presentation - start! Start on time and that means you
need to have a Plan B opening while the crew is fixing the equipment problem.
Don't make the audience suffer because of your equipment failure or lack of
Don't do what one
Vice president of an IT company did at a presentation. Clearly she hadn't
checked her equipment. When she was introduced she walked up to the stage with
her laptop and handed it to the crew who were seeing her for the first time.
They scrambled to hook up her laptop and ran into problems. Meanwhile the
audience was waiting.
She watched the crew
for a couple of minutes, remembered the audience and turned to us with an exasperated
tone, "Talk amongst yourselves."
She clearly didn't
demonstrate respect for the audience or the crew who got her equipment working
in a few minutes.
Respect your audience
and start your presentation on time.
Should I tell a joke when I start my presentation?
Ha, ha – don’t do that. Don’t start with a joke.
That is an antiquated piece of advice given to novice
presenters by other novices.
I’ve seen it done and it was painful to witness.
There’s nothing wrong with making people laugh but you
should avoid telling jokes. Maybe you heard a joke over coffee or while having
drinks and it sounded funny – but don’t use it in your presentation.
The traditional jokes told by comedians might have made the
audience laugh but the comedian was a professional joke teller. You have no
idea how much effort they put into rehearsing the joke so they could get the
delivery just right. Most jokes die when the delivery is wrong.
You probably don’t have that experience so the joke will die
and that’s a terrible way to start your presentation.
Also the joke probably doesn’t relate to your message. The
audience will be wondering “What does that have to do with this?”
And most jokes poke fun at someone. It’s not a good way to
start your presentation by putting someone down. There’s a good chance that you
will offend some people in your audience with your insulting attitude.