4 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills and Wow Your Audience

It was that far away look in my students’ eyes that told me something was wrong. I was teaching grade 8-mathematics and trying to show the kids how to solve expressions with exponents. But what I didn’t realize was that they didn’t know how to solve algebraic equations yet, so I might as well have been speaking to them in a foreign language. As a newly minted teacher, early on in my career, I hadn’t yet learned that before you start holding forth you’d better find out what the students already know! Otherwise, you risk losing them, and your lesson flops.

In many ways, this same principle applies to business communication. If you want to be an effective communicator – whether it’s a presentation or a written document such as an email message, a letter, or a report – you really do have to know who your audience is and what their needs are.

We’ve probably all experienced opening an email from someone who is anxious for our business only to find the message is totally irrelevant. What’s the first thing you do when this happens? Right! You hit the delete button. No doubt you’re grumbling why this message was sent to you in the first place, since its content clearly doesn’t apply to you. And that’s not a good start for building a business relationship!

The fact is; it’s hard to persuade your audience to respond to your message if you haven’t done your homework. The Plain Language and Action Information Network (PLAIN) which is at the forefront of a movement promoting communication that’s clear and simple, makes the idea of focusing on audiences their first defining principle:

“Written material is in plain language if your audience can:

  • Find what they need;
  • Understand what they find; and
  • Use what they find to meet their needs.”

Or if you think of it in retail terms: the customer truly does come first. As I like to put it, “It’s not about me, it’s really about you.”

So how do you figure out who your audience is? Do a little homework.

Here are My Top Tips for Getting to Know Your Audience:

  1. Talk To Me: A good old-fashioned conversation is frequently the best way to find out what your audience knows, doesn’t know, and wants to know. Whether it’s a casual chat or a formal interview the goal is the same – find out who your audience is, and what their needs are.
  2. Make Google Your Friend: Do a little research online before you write that proposal or send that email message. If you’re working with a new company, their website may reveal a great deal about their current status and future goals.
  3. Survey The Crowd: Much like a pollster or a broadcast measurement organization, you may want to send out a survey to your audience. It may be the best option when you have a new client with a complex catalogue of needs, and limited interest in face-to-face or phone meetings.
  4. Get Social: Sometimes social media (Facebook and Twitter) are a good way to conduct research. Facebook recently introduced Facebook Questions, which some feel can be a useful tool for polling your already existing community.

Getting to know your audience so that you can be an effective communicator isn’t terrifically complicated. It’s more a matter of taking the time to do your due diligence. Of course, sometimes it’s tempting to skip this step. After all, many people find the thought of “research” and “interviewing” a little dry and dusty. But what outcome would you prefer – reaping the rewards because you put in the time? Or watching as their eyes glaze over?

5 Investor Development Equity Capital Raising Presentation Tips For Principals

Raising capital is a critical skill and requirement for investment principals. The organization and management of this process is challenging. The experience, credibility, and skill needed requires years of practice, exposure, and serious focus. Most never really feel fully comfortable performing the effort. Developing a solid concept and format eases the process dramatically.

Tip #1: A standard presentation organization helps get the process off to a good start. I typically include an opening chart that gives a “teaser” description of the investment. Next, a very brief chart about the principals allows for introductions at the presentation. A good investment requires a positive economic environment. Because of this, I always lay out the situation framing the investment. Next, cover the basic terms of the investment. Describe what the investor will be investing, key terms effecting capital, and what the investment purchases. Explain management, operations, and funding for these items. The closing section includes sources and uses, financial terms, return expectations, and the exit.

Tip #2: Don’t write a presentation and simply show up for the meeting. Preparation is key. Realize and ensure that the presentation is not the in depth description. The in depth description should reserved for the business plan and subscription agreement. That said the presentation if the investor engages will be practically as in depth as the business plan in that you should seek to fully engage the investor, provide and explain the details and intricacies of the investment. This means preparation includes preparing to drive home the key points and ensure critical questions are answered.

Tip #3: Complete a Q&A preparation. Spend time developing the questions and issues investors will raise. Prepare clear, cogent, effective answers addressing each question and each issue. If necessary, bring background material to address the issues.

Tip #4: Seek commitment at the meeting. Don’t go to the trouble delivering a well prepared complete presentation and fail to ask for the sale.

Tip #5: Have a clear plan to follow up and complete the closing process. Investors are busy people. Executing a clear effective plan communicating with them and setting the clear expectation in their mind of what that plan will be says a great deal about your organization and respects the limited time that they have available.

Principals should never give a presentation without adequate preparation. Having a plan for the presentation will organize your thought process, make your points more compelling, and significantly increase your opportunity for success.

Visualization Technique – Past, Present and Future Visualization

What works best for you, may not work at all for me and thus, it is important that we find the best technique that suits us personally. There are hundreds of techniques around and you only need to practice once to work out whether or not it will work for you in the long run. I call this technique the “Past, present and future visualization.” Follow the steps and see if this is a visualization technique that could help you in the long run.

Step One:
If you want something within a certain time limit visualize yourself having it by that date, however, one very important point that i want to stress is that you should always begin your visualization with emotion. Feel the feeling of having the thing you desire from the very first scene of your visualization and allow the emotion to grow as your visualization continues. Remember that the scene is happening now, you already have the thing so add the five senses to your visualization by touching objects such as the new car you desire and smelling, tasting, hearing and seeing everything in your surroundings. For example, if you desire a promotion at work you would first begin by feeling the joy and sense of achievement associated with getting the promotion. Then you’d see yourself in your new office, touching your new desk and feeling the leather of your new office chair. Taking a call from your secretary, etc etc. Do this for 30 seconds then go to step two.

Step Two:
Now, go back in time to the events leading up to your promotion. Create a past series of events leading up to the moment of your promotion. For example, following the above example, 6 months earlier you achieved a sales goal that made you eligible for the position. You also took some courses and gained more education in the area of your promotion. You may also have come up with a new idea to boost sales in your department. Think of and visualize the ideal set of circumstances leading to your promotion and then visualize them for 30 seconds. Remember to feel emotion every time.

Step Three:
Next, project yourself into the future. What has happened as a result of your promotion? What kind of lifestyle do you now have? How does it feel to walk into your new office everyday? See it, feel it and live it from present to past, to future.

Do this once a day everyday and your subconscious mind will move mountains to bring the desired outcome your way because your wish is its command!