Articles

Never forget WIIFT

When I was a Buyer, I lost count of the amount of sales presentations I saw that began with the 'About us' slide. What inevitably followed was at least a 5 minute self-congratulatory trumpeting from the presenter about how amazing their company was. The problem was, I didn't care. All I wanted to know was could they do the job at a decent price and quality. To make sure you don't make the same mistake, all you need to do is constantly think about the WIIFT (What's In It For Them). The great arbiter The WIIFT is a wonderful help when it comes to thinking about, writing and delivering your presentation, because at any point you can stop and ask yourself "what's…

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Don’t mention the war!

Did you know, that if you made that gesture in the picture - a simple thumbs up - that you would grossly offend people in Iran? Given that I inadvertently make that gesture a lot, I must never allow myself to go to Iran! This, and a recent business trip to Hong Kong, got me thinking about how we perhaps should be more culturally aware when presenting, particularly if it's to a multi-cultural or predominantly foreign audience......... The need If you've spent time lovingly crafting and practising a compelling presentation (you do practise, don't you?), the last thing you want to do is lose your audience by making a simple cultural mistake. For example, I learnt that while in Hong Kong, it's…

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Celebrate success

For those of you that live in the UK and are old enough, if I say the name 'Michael Fish' I know you will think of just one thing - the time the well-known BBC Weatherman guaranteed that there wouldn't be a hurricane less than 24 hours before the biggest hurricane in UK history. The sad part about this is that he had a long career of being pretty accurate, and yet we are drawn like a moth to a flame toward his one, admittedly massive, mistake. So what does this have to do with you becoming a better presenter? Stick around and I'll tell you... It's human nature So why do we think of the negatives more readily than the positives?…

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Clarity is King!

Imagine that a colleague asks you how you are today. How bizarre would it be if, instead of answering with the trusted 'I'm fine thanks, how are you?', you instead reel off EXACTLY how you are, including your recent relationship history and any medical ailments you might be suffering from. That would, of course, be ridiculous. However, give people PowerPoint and that's often exactly what happens, they seem to put the sum total of all human knowledge onto their slides. It's the most frequent mistake presenters make. So let's rid ourselves of this ailment once and for all! So why do we do it? One word...Safety. I don't think there's been a single person I've coached who hasn't overfilled their slides, and…

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How not to do it!

One week ago the eyes of the world were on London for the delightfully quirky opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. You may wonder what that would have to do with presenting? Well, there was a great example of how not to do it. Lord Sebastian Coe - take a bow.... Relax, I'm not having a go at Seb Now, don't get me wrong, I completely understand the fact that he was making a speech to billions of people - that's clearly going to be a squeaky bum moment. As such, in that context, I can forgive him for what he did. However, the fact remains that he read his speech, barely looking up for more than a millisecond. What…

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The seductive force of laughter

Go on, admit it - at some point in your life you've said something so hilariously funny that you had people rolling around clutching their sides they were laughing so hard. At that point you may have stopped to think 'maybe I'm the next big thing in stand-up comedy?' Of course the answer is no, no you're not. However, combine experiences like these with an opportunity to speak to a group, and suddenly we're convinced we're the next Michael McIntyre. So, should we use comedy in presentations? And if so, how? Why bother? Other than the fact that it feels great to have made a group of people laugh (particularly if it's a large group), there are significant benefits of…

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The Conversation Method

As the lovely Bob Hoskins used to say in the BT adverts "It's good to talk". However, an awful lot of people out there would disagree if they happen to be talking to a group of people in a presentation setting. In fact, they wouldn't just disagree, but actively heckle or assault poor Mr. Hoskins for uttering that phrase, such is their dislike of standing in front of a group. So, how then can we use the casual art of conversation to help build our confidence when giving a presentation? It's all in the setting Imagine you were in your house and a friend came round, and that friend was one you really liked (as opposed to any 'inherited friends' that you're…

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Expect the unexpected!

We live in a world where things change, I'm sure that's of no surprise to you. What is surprising though, is how many people forget that fact when it comes to making presentations. They assume that things will go exactly according to plan, and then they are thrown when they don't. If we've learnt one thing from 80's TV action programmes, it's that we need a back-up plan (take a bow McGyver and The A Team).... So what could go wrong? In short, if it can go wrong, at some point it probably will. Here is a small selection of the things that have not gone according to plan during my presentations: A power cut about 1 minute into a presentationA tiny…

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Developing content the easy way

Let's face it - writing a presentation from scratch can be very reminiscent of our days in education. If you were anything like me, your main learning point from that period of your life was that you found there was seemingly no limit to the amount of time you could sit in front of a blank piece of paper without actually writing anything! If that's still the case then don't panic, because there is a much easier way to develop content fast... Keep your computer switched off The biggest mistake that most people make is trying to write their presentation in PowerPoint™ or other such presentation software. That is the equivalent of Steven Spielberg turning up on set on the first day…

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Check your facts

We've all seen it happen, whether it's in real life or on a programme like Dragon's Den, that awful moment when someone catches the presenter out with information they were completely unaware of, and completely contradicts a point they've made. This will more than likely ruin the presentation, but more importantly will probably leave the credibility of the presenter in tatters. Surely we couldn't fall into the same trap could we? If you think not, read on.... Sometimes you get away with it! Two days prior to writing this, I was delivering a conference session to around 250 people who formed the commercial division of a very well known UK company. Part of it was centred around looking out for opportunities, so…

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