Presentation skill, an inevitable part of sales success | Sunday Observer

Presentation skill, an inevitable part of sales success

Presentation skill, in other words, the ability to maintain attention and achieve your desired outcome from presenting to the opposite person or a group of people, is an important soft skill a person must learn.

This is one of the most important tools to communicate in business. Once learnt, this skill can effectively be used in many professional and personal endeavours whether it is a customer presentation, job interview, business meeting or in a personal engagement such as a speech at a private function or a religious event. An effective presentation consists of a meaningful, inspirational, creative and memorable message that will bring definite results in business and in life.

My intention is to discuss a presentation in a selling situation. The most important commercial circumstance in this regard is that of a presentation made to a customer. This act can vary from a face to face individual presentation to an address to a large gathering with a video  or slide presentation.

Effective presentation in all forms of advertising is a crucial factor for business entities. Delivering a clear, concise and easy to understand message is the key to success. Whether the message is verbal, written or imagery, its contents must be understood by the audience clearly and precisely.

Prior to a customer sales presentation, it is best to do brief research about the customer profile. Preceding knowledge about the customer’s business lines, policies, success stories (certainly not failures, as no customer will discuss failures with a stranger) and product lines would be a distinct advantage against a competitor. A customer benefit plan (customers always buy the benefit, not the product itself) will also be extremely useful along with a properly developed sales presentation.

A successful individual presentation always practically commences with your first approach to the customer. There are no second chances when it comes to making first impressions, so it’s best to get it right the first time. It is said that the first impressions are the most lasting. Therefore, enter the meeting confidently with a proper greeting, a firm handshake (only if your customer offers the hand), waiting to be invited to sit or asking permission to sit and finally your posture while seated are the key elements of the first approach.

However, if it is a group presentation to a small or large audience, the presenter should adapt a different initial approach somewhat similar to a public speech. Let me give you a few tips. Arrive early at the location to adjust yourself to the surroundings. This will make you settle down before the presentation and help dispel the usual nervousness before speaking to an audience. Positive thoughts of visualising an effective and entertaining audience response can give you an incredible amount of confidence.

Walking at a brisk pace and greeting the audience with a suitably loud and confident voice will not only attract the attention of the audience but also establish your credibility in the first few seconds which is of absolute importance.

The presenter has to understand that most audiences want to see the speaker succeed and they are not there to laugh at, unless the presenter makes a serious blunder in the all important first few seconds. Even if a mistake is made, the presenter must learn to carry on with confidence after making corrections.

A cheerful attitude with a smile on the face makes an enormous impact in a group presentation. Your attitude at the beginning can place the audience at ease before the presentation starts, a goal that you must have in your mind. This practice alone is a valuable criterion, often more effective for customer decision making than a complex product feature. Actively engaging the audience during the presentation also is essential and result oriented as people love to talk and express their opinions.

Delivering the prepared presentation convincingly needs data and facts, descriptions and personal experience on the topic. In personal and group presentations, the presenter must understand that if the subject matter is technical or heavily descriptive, the listeners may quickly become bored and uninterested. Therefore, the presenter must not try to cover too much material too fast. Pace out and be entertaining to the audience to drive out monotony.

Being animated is a sure way of drawing the interest of the individual or group audience. It demonstrates enthusiasm which any person accepts as a sign of a positive attitude. To use the voice effectively, presenters practice voice modulation techniques to vary the impact of the message. Your body language during the appearance gives additional strength to the product, service or concept. Voice and body language with proper animation are strong elements of a presentation.

Engaging a physical demonstration through a white board or a flipchart, even in this modern day, can be extremely practical. Along with the verbal explanations, with or without slides, writing down facts, figures and information can give a boost to the presentation. This practice helps the customer to make the buying decision.

Finally, it is of paramount importance to believe in the product or service you are presenting. This belief makes your points tremendously strong in the eyes of the audience. Without getting excited by the contents of your subject, you cannot expect to get the audience to become motivated enough.

A good presentation is an absolutely certain way of knowing that the desired result is guaranteed. In my long experience in selling, as a seller and a buyer, I have seen salesmen fail due to poor presentation of facts. I also have witnessed expensive campaigns fail due to weak and arbitrary presentations. The reason is that they are not aware of the necessity of presentation techniques. Learning the art of making presentations can help close business deals, win job interviews and make successful public appearances. Presentation skills not only help self promotion but is also important for career, business and life.

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