By Arnold Sanow
Your ability to speak well is one of the most powerful keys to business and
personal success. Research reveals that those with the highest incomes have
superior presentation and persuasion skills.
In fact, speaking well and getting your point across in clear and concise manner
are stronger factors in achieving high status in business than education, length
of experience or career field.
Presentation skills aren't just for top executives and CEOs anymore. They're
necessary for any person in business who wants to get their point across
confidently, clearly, and without nervousness, whether they're presenting a new
idea ... selling a product ... or making a presentation before a small group or
board of directors.
The two most crucial areas of successful presentations are planning and
Planning includes understanding the audience, assessing their needs,
establishing objectives to meet their needs, researching the topic, designing
the presentation and making sure the facilities are adequate for the
presentation. To develop a successful plan you need to answer the following
Who are your participants? Do they share the same background and level of
experience? Have the participants attended presentations similar to yours? Do
they have any knowledge or skills that pertain to the topic of your
presentation? How many participants will attend the presentation? Did the
participants volunteer to attend or were they required to attend? What is the
preferred learning style of the group? i.e. lectures, demonstrations How much
time will you have for the presentation? What are the goals of the presentation?
How will I open the presentation? How will I close the presentation? How will I
organize the body? How will I get their attention? How will I keep their
interest? What questions will I ask? What questions will they ask? What notes,
visuals and materials do I need?
Ninety percent of the success of a presentation is attributed to planning. If you don't
plan, all the tips and strategies you use won't make a difference.
Delivery includes the presenter's style and his or her ability in knowing
how to use verbal and nonverbal communication, questioning and reinforcement,
group interaction, and the appropriate use of humor. Some guidelines to make
your presentation a winner include:
Whether you are speaking to one person or hundreds, the success of your
presentation depends on more than what you have to say. How you say it and how
you interact with your audience will also determine their response. By following
the guidelines above, you'll be well on your way to planning and delivering a
- Be sure to tell your audience why your presentation is relevant to them.
- Keep your presentation within or under the allotted time. Never go over
- Make sure you have enough breaks. Research shows that adult
concentration peaks out at 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Do not tell jokes unless you are a great storyteller ... and then make
certain that your story will offend absolutely no one in the room!
- Eliminate all material that is not directly relevant to the central
theme of your presentation.
- Your visual aids should be aids and not crutches. Do not overwhelm your
audience with them.
- Maintain eye contact with your audience throughout your presentation.
- Listen actively to audience questions. Often the questioner is asking
more than what meets the ear.
- Always rephrase what you think the question to be before you respond to
- Show enthusiasm. People are more convinced by the enthusiasm of your
message than by the message itself.
- Deliver presentations in your own style. To come across as genuine,
sincere and knowledgeable, you must be yourself.
- Keep the audience's attention. Have a question, anecdote, story, exercise
or discussion point every 3 to 5 minutes.
- Have an attention getting opener. You can do this by, asking a question,
sharing a personal experience or anecdote, starting with a strong
statistic, commenting on a current event, or by using a visual.
- Use your voice and body language to make your message memorable. Only 7%
of the way your message is perceived is by the words you use. The other
93% is from the tone of your voice, the rate of your speech and your body
- Relieve anxiety by, organizing and planning, practicing, focusing on the
happy faces in the audience, doing relaxation exercises, arriving early to
get to know and feel comfortable with the audience.
Winning Presentations: Present Like a Pro … And Win More Sales (725
Arnold Sanow, MBA, CSP (certified speaking professional)
is a speaker, seminar leader, author and business and marketing strategist. He
is the author of 4 books to include "Marketing Boot Camp" and
"Entrepreneur Boot Camp."
About the Author
He can be reached at 703-255-3133 or
Web site: http://www.arnoldsanow.com
This article and others are available from www.speakersvoice.org