Why you should present more (and how to do it)
We all know the truth – almost no one likes giving a presentation, and few people look forward to watching one.
I see this as a tragedy because, in the right hands, presenting is a wonderful tool. A great presentation can change minds. It can inspire and motivate people. It can deepen trust with clients. It can bring teams together and help build an effective culture. A great presentation can create energy and goodwill and, at the extreme, can change the world.
But it’s not just about other people – presenting can be great for you.
A good presenter can quickly become a respected expert. Good presenters are often ‘front of mind’, both internally and with clients. One of the best ways to build your personal authority, credibility and visibility is to present. The other way is to write a book, but trust me – presenting is much easier!
Presenting is a fantastic way to extend your reach, and make new connections . In ‘real life’ it’s impossible to speak to 30 people all at the same time. In presenting, it’s easy. In fact, you can speak to hundreds.
I met my biggest client because of a presentation I gave to prospective clients. I could never have reached that client through advertising or cold-calling, even if I’d spent thousands of pounds and hours.
If you’re in any kind of new business role, presenting to, and with, clients can help to make you competitor-proof. Getting out and presenting more gives you an automatic ‘difference’. When I work with small but growing businesses, I advise all of my clients to build presentations for their clients.
A professional services firm that I worked with reconnected with an ex-client because of a presentation that they created for their market. That client has been worth almost £3 million to them since that presentation.
I often recommend that clients take the top three problems that their industry is facing, and build a presentation around that. There’s no ‘selling’ involved, they just present about the solutions that they’ve found to client problems. Time and time again, there’s a queue of people at the end who want to know more, or work with them. Even better, these audiences have self-selected. They are there because they are interested in the topic. If they are still there at the end, it’s because they like you. The combination of the two is magical. This is the model I’ve used to build my own business.
Personal ‘brand’ and influence.
Presenting is not only great for those in a sales role. If you want to build internal reputation and influence, then presenting is perfect – especially in a digital world. When you present, people get to know you, not just your job title. They want to meet you, and will ask you for your advice and opinions. They’ll present you with more opportunities. People talk about you and you’ll be amazed at how you become ‘the person you must speak to…’
If it’s so good, why doesn’t everyone do it?
Most of my clients want to build their brand, visibility and authority. So, one of the things I encourage them to do is present more. Most people say two things in response:
‘I already present a lot’
I hate presenting!
Let’s look at these:
‘I already present a lot’. In fact, many people are not presenting – they’re just giving ‘updates’ in front of some PowerPoint slides. This is not the same thing as real presenting. Real presenting is not about information, data or updates. It’s about how you affect people with information. It’s about engaging, provoking and inspiring people. It’s about helping people with your insights and experience.
Once you realise that real presenting is more than just listing some facts in time with some slides, the possibilities of what presenting can do for you start to open up.
‘I hate presenting’.
Although a lot of people say this, I’m not convinced that it’s presenting they actually hate. I think it’s two things – the possibility of looking foolish in front of other people, and the idea that you have to ‘perform’.
Presenting is not ‘performing’, it’s ‘communicating’.
But if you view presenting not as ‘performing’ but as ‘communicating a valuable and relevant message to a group of people who need it’, then it can become much easier. Try some of the ideas below, and you’ll find that your confidence in presenting can grow quickly.
And here’s a secret of presenting – the standard of presenting in business is so low that you don’t need to be very good to appear to be brilliant! It doesn’t matter if you’re nervous, or shy. The only thing that matters to an audience is that you have a clear message that is relevant and useful them. If you get that right, they’ll forgive you anything.
How to do it:
Work on your message – make sure it’s right for the audience (there are plenty of other posts on this blog to help you do that.) Here’s a quick way to do it – ask the audience in advance what problems they need solutions for. For example, I often run seminars about creating a great presentation in business. I’ve asked ‘What are the three most important things you’d like to know about presenting?’. I always get lots of questions back, and they help me to write a presentation that is tailored to what my audience needs.
Remember that a presentation can take many forms. It doesn’t have to be one person talking for 30 minutes with PowerPoint. You can use interviews, interactive exercises, or a facilitated Q and A session. Often, with my clients, I’ll ask them to create ten minutes of material – perhaps a provocative point of view, or a new insight into their industry, and then hand over to the audience. If you’ve got this right, the audience will ask lots of questions and write your next presentation for you!
If you’re in sales, or new business, present to prospective clients as often as you can. Find out where your clients go to solve their problems, and present there. DO NOT SELL! You’ll build much deeper relationships and be more credible if you just help people. If your presentation has value, you’ll get lots of enquiries about working with you. Even better, the potential client will want to work with you
Where possible, present with your clients. Often, your clients will want to present to their clients. Have you solved a problem together that’s useful for your clients’ clients? I’ve seen many very successful presentations built on this model. It’s a fantastic way of deepening relationships.
If you’re a business owner, look over your advertising/marketing budget and work out whether presenting might give you better results. For example, a client of mine stopped exhibiting for six months and paid to present at those exhibitions instead. Not only did they perform better, the quality of the leads was better. Of course it was – the audience came to solve the very problem that the presenter was solving!
If you really hate presenting, but see the value of it, then get a professional in. For example, an expert presenter can ‘top and tail’ your presentation, or they can field questions and comments from the audience. You can relax and just be the ‘content expert’. The audience won’t care, as long as they’re getting value.
If you want to increase your internal influence, then create some presentations to get your message out into the business. Do you, and your team, for example have value that is not immediately obvious to other areas of the business? Can you present that value at a lunch-and learn, or an internal networking event? I worked with an IT team recently, who realised that they had huge value in terms of their ability to create problem-solving processes. So they created a presentation to help other people in the business solve problems in a structured way. The presentation was successful, and the reputation of the I.T. team grew quickly.
There will never be a perfect time to start presenting more, so you might as well begin now! The benefits can be so great, and the downsides are so few. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on.
Do you have any further reasons why people should present more? Or have you experienced benefits in your own business from presenting? I’d love to know, so leave me a message below.
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