The seven secrets of a convincing presentation
How do I prepare my discussion partners for the goals of my presentation? What do I want to convince them of? How do I achieve a common basis? How do I establish communication with the participants? How do I react to objections and critical questions? And what should I do about my excitement?
First of all, the correct attunement of the participants is just as important as the content of the presentation itself. For example, a decision about opening up a market in China could be introduced with success stories from well-known companies, or with quotations from recognised authorities. Great examples of success are those where calculable risks were accepted. This way the participants are prepared for entrepreneurial decisions by taking courageous risks and calculating underlying high opportunities. Other ideas and examples would be chosen when it comes to buying a house (family, security, etc.) or a reorganisation of a project (risks of the status quo, the inevitability of change, etc.).
Second of all, a convincing presentation should not be a "performance" up which you dance in front and the audience watches and applauds. Instead of this, it should be a conversation with the participants. It best begins with questions that involve the participants and are not only rhetorical phrases.
- What are our (strategic) goals and priorities?
- What are the reasons to look for a decision right now?
- What happens if nothing is done or decided?
The third secret is to focus on the immediate conversation with the participants, not of the fixation on a particular outcome. The presentation and better conversation should not be a challenge to be won, but rather an opportunity to ask the right questions and discuss them. You should be open to new ideas in the discussion while not losing sight of the common goal.
The fourth secret is to forget "Yes, but..." and to force yourself to respond with "Yes, and...". It signals to participants that you have been listening and accepting other views. The best way is to repeat the argument in your own words. The questioners think you understood their point of view, therefore they accept your perspective more seriously in return.
The fifth secret is that quick answers are rarely good answers. The best answer is: "It depends...". This gives you time to think about the answer and what the answer might depend on. This is certainly true if you know the answer directly. "When do we reach the breakthrough? "What budget do we need for the launch?" "How many walls can I paint with 10 litres of wall paint?" - And the answer? "It depends..."
The sixth secret is that critical questions and objections should not be understood as a personal attack, but as an opportunity: "Thank you very much for this question. It gives you the opportunity to address the "Let us consider.." context and in any case, you should avoid getting involved in a confrontation instead you should take the side of the questioner and find a solution together.
The last secret is that nervousness is normal. If you notice that you are anxious, accept your nervous side and use the extra adrenaline in a positive manner for yourself. A good lecturer will always be nervous at some point. A positive attitude is always vital here.
And finally, every presentation, every difficult negotiation and every pitch has a benefit for itself, even if the result is sometimes different than desired. There is always a learning experience to be had that can improve your presentation skills and negotiating strength.
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This article was published in the Freelancing.HK-News 62.