Love them or hate them, presentations are a large part of a salesperson’s life. They can vary from a quick 5 minute impromptu talk for one person to a structured talk to many hundreds of delegates at a major exhibition.
All presentations hinge on the speaker’s ability to hold their audience’s attention. There are many reasons why an audience may be listening to a speaker so the speaker needs to understand why the audience is listening to them.
For example, if people have paid to attend a motivational seminar, the speaker is likely to have a very receptive audience to start with. How receptive the audience is after they started is down to the speaker! If a manager has bullied a sales team into attending a product presentation, the speaker is less likely to start with a receptive audience. Again it is down to the speaker whether the audience will stay dis-interested or will start to sit up and respond to the presentation.
Step number one in preparing your presentation is to consider the audience. You must establish credibility in the eyes of your audience. Remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder! For your presentation to succeed you need your audience to believe that you have the knowledge, authority and right to talk on the subject. This task can vary depending upon the audience. If you are talking to three people who know and respect you already, your credibility is beyond question. If you are presenting to an audience that does not know you, you will need to build credibility. Here are some of the factors you can use to build credibility with your audience:
Display your credentials
- 1. Nothing establishes competence better than credentials. You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner, but any Degrees, certificates and licences you hold that are relevant to your audience add weight to your character.
- 2. If you have any honours or awards, even something ten years ago for being the best hamburger salesman can be relevant to a group of salespeople! Has your community, or charity honoured you? All of these seemingly small points help to build your credibility with your audience.
- 3. Have you ever been published? Even an article five years ago in a trade journal carries weight. There is still something about the printed and published word that impresses people.
- 4. What experience do you have? Presumably you are working in the industry about which you are presenting. Experience is important – it implies competence.
So how do you inform your audience about your impressive credentials? It is a bit unseemly to stand up and launch into a ten minute commercial for yourself and how great you are! The best way is to let the person introducing you handle the bulk of the chore. Prepare a written briefing for them to read. If this is not possible as you are not being introduced, you will need to introduce the relevant points into your presentation. Don’t force them, use them as logical supports for your points.
Associate yourself with high-credibility organisations
Can you claim membership of a credible organisation or, failing that, link yourself to one?
You can build credibility by admitting past mistakes or shortcomings. Doing so will help you be perceived as honest.
Display similar values
People have a natural tendency to believe those who hold similar values, beliefs and attitudes and to distrust those who don’t. If you have similar values to your audience let them know early in your presentation.
Lead by example
Are you recommending a particular course of action? If so, it will lend credibility to your presentation if you can show that you have already followed your own advice. Any time you can reference an action that supports what you’ll be saying – do it.
It is far more convincing for someone else to sing your praises. Get quotes from satisfied customers and industry figures held in high regard. Get the person introducing you to work some of these into their introduction and use some yourself in your presentation.
Now that you have prepared to build your credibility to an all-time high with your audience all you have to do is to deliver your presentation and sit down!