"The best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to know what you’re talking about." ~Author Unknown
When I started my business I quickly found that I didn’t have enough public speaking experience. Learning how to give successful new business pitches and persuasive campaign presentations was almost like learning a foreign language. I realized that good presentation skills are essential to securing and keeping clients. I became determined to become a more effective presenter and now teach presentation skills to others.
Here are some tips that you can use to boost your confidence when presenting to current and prospective clients:
Rehearse and rehearse again: Once we write a presentation, we may think we’ve got it down cold. Never – and I repeat never – give a presentation without rehearsing it out loud first. You will dramatically improve your confidence because saying the words will lock them in your mind. You’ll be able to edit long sentences, replace difficult-to-pronounce words and improve the rhythm and flow of your presentation. Then, mark up your script by underlining key phrases to prompt you to speak UP, pause or use gestures for emphasis.
Calm down: Before you speak, go to a quiet place to release tension. Physical or mental exercises, such as rationalizations (saying or thinking the words “I’m prepared”) will help you focus your mind and relax your body. One of my favorite techniques is to do some creative visualization, meaning ‘seeing’ clients smiling and applauding at the conclusion.
Practice positive body language: Effective presentations are a little like ballet – beautiful to watch, seemingly effortless, yet based on a lot of practice. Try to:
- Smile during your introductory remarks and at appropriate points in your presentation.
- Stand straight. Don’t lean over the lectern or microphone.
- Scan the audience to find the friendly faces. Present to the people who nod, smile and look engaged. Ignore those who are busy taking notes, typing on their Blackberry, etc.
- Move your hands and arms to help emphasize key points.
- Open your arms to display confidence and communicate openness and honesty.