Wow Your Audiences with Impactful Presentations
So you’ve landed a presentation session at a local school or library. Now what?
There are some crucial steps you should take to ensure you are putting your best foot forward. Preparation and a carefully crafted presentation will give you the opportunity to wow your audience, attract new clients, and up your chances of being invited back for another presentation down the road.
Good luck attracting an audience to an advertisement. While public presentations can be a great way to drum up business, putting your services and programs at the forefront is a huge mistake.
Approach these opportunities with an eye towards value. Rather than making your amazing business the focus, choose an informative topic like choosing between the SAT and ACT or the college application process that your client demographic would be drawn to. If you can effectively help people navigate something that is confusing or stressful, you are upping the odds that they will come to you about other related matters (…test prep perhaps?).
The bottom line is this: if you aren’t offering attendees something they want or need, you won’t fill the seats. Moreover, you run the risk of not getting invited back for future presentations if your hosts feel like your primary objective is to simply shill your wares.
This is not to say you should miss the opportunity to promote your services and programs; you just need to make sure you approach the issue with a bit of finesse rather than with a heavy hand.
Make a Soft Pivot, Not a Hard Sell
People sit through agonizing timeshare presentations for the promise of a free getaway at the end. People sit through advertisements to get back to the show or sporting event they were watching. Why are people going to sit through your hard sales pitch? Odds are, they won’t want to.
This is where you need to be creative. Find ways to promote your brand throughout your presentation without coming across as the local snake oil salesman set up in the town square. Incorporate your materials and success stories into the greater message; let the audience know the ways you and your business are there to support them without detracting from the main topic of the session.
Some ways to do this include:
- Bring printed materials as handouts.
- Ensure your branding (including relevant contact information and a website address) appears on all handouts.
- Where appropriate, use your own custom-branded practice materials as examples in your presentation.
- Be available before and after the session to meet and talk with attendees.
- Have your business cards handy.
- Be prepared to recommend free resources when appropriate.
While your ultimate goal may be to promote your business, you can also promote confidence and respect for your brand by establishing yourself as someone who is ready and willing to help those in the community. It can sometimes be a long game, but it will establish trust in ways your competitors can't match!
Get the Logistics Right
A great message won’t matter if your delivery is flawed.
Nothing can be more frustrating for an audience than a disorganized presentation. No one wants to sit and wait for a presenter to fumble through files, incorrect information, and broken web links. Good presentations respect the time and attention of those in attendance.
Start by considering your targeted audience. Anticipate what it will take to get and hold their attention. Remember, no one is buying tickets to your presentation; your message is the only thing putting them in the seats, and your delivery is the only thing keeping them there.
Avoid boring, text-heavy PowerPoint presentations. Instead, choose direct, easy-to-understand messaging techniques. Sprinkling in multimedia, interactivity, and time for questions will help make audience members feel more engaged with your message. Providing real-world examples and anecdotes will help give your message some much-needed life.
Another key piece of preparation should be to find out as much as you can about the space you will be presenting in, the technology that will be available, and the time you will be allotted. The fewer surprises, the better!
- Bring your own cords and connectors.
- Don't assume someone will be available to help you with projectors or microphones.
- Arrange to receive wifi access ahead of the event.
- Save your presentation on your local device and on Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Use a smartphone app as a remote control to advance slides.
- Use an app like sli.do to facilitate participation, poll your audience, gather questions and rank their importance.
On presentation day, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to set up your presentation and get comfortable in the space. Walking in cold can be the set up for any number of blunders and gaffes. As mentioned before, you also want to be available both before and after the session to connect with those in attendance. Establishing these personal relationships will be your best chances to draw in new clients.
Every presentation will be a different experience depending on your audience and your message. Careful preparation of a compelling and value-focused session can be the key to building your brand and your business in the local community.
What tips do you have for making public presentations the best they can be? Share your advice and experiences with our readers in the comments below and on social media!