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High Impact Presentation Skills: How to Communicate Your Message Professionally and Powerfully
by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, CSP

Are you prepared to make your next presentation, the best ever? You are, if you remember these 3 critical points:
  • It's a conversation. Whether it's a sales meeting, a staff meeting, or a major presentation in front of thousands, remember it's a conversation—not a monologue. The type of presentation doesn't matter! What matters is that your audience, attendees, or your decision makers, are in some way engaged in your message. If you're talking "at" them, you're unlikely to make a connection—or a sale. Have a conversation with them. Ask questions frequently, even if they are only rhetorical questions. (Pause for them to think through their answers, even if you don't intend for them to actually answer.) Use words that help them visualize, hear and grasp your message; pepper your language with words that appeal to at least 3 different senses: visual (Can you see that?), auditory (Does that ring a bell for you?), kinesthetic (Does that make sense for you?). Have an interesting and "enlarged" conversation with them to compel them to listen to you. It's all about them. Toby Keith, the country western singer, has a great song. "I wanna talk about me, I wanna talk about me, I wanna talk about me, me, me, me," he sings. We all want to "talk about me"—or at least the things that matter most to us. Yet most presenters—sales presenters, executives, colleagues in a staff meeting—talk about the topic at hand from their point of view instead of from their listener's point of view. See the disconnect! If you want others to focus on your point, you need to make the issue important to them—not just to yourself. The savvy presenter realizes that the only way to provide a high impact presentation is to talk about what matters to them, how they'll benefit, what they'll get out of it, etc.
  • Whatever you do, don't data dump the features of your new meeting planning service, for instance. Focus on how their meeting will be more successful (ask how they define success, first!) because of what you offer. (Notice how their meeting is the point of emphasis rather than your service, idea or product.) And remember to keep the presentation interesting. Can you show something instead of just talking about it? Powerpoint may be an efficient tool for you to use, but is it the best way to get your message across? Think about how you can demonstrate your differences with clever props. (Here's an exercise for you: If your meeting or service is a cookie, what cookie would it be? What do all the other cookies in your category look like? Why would I want your cookie over any other? How could you introduce the cookie to your audience?)
  • Be yourself. When I first started speaking, a colleague told me that my New York accent would keep anyone (outside of NY!) from hiring me. For weeks after that, I faked some sort of weird accent so that I'd sound less New York-ish and more neutral. It was awful! I tried to be someone I wasn't. Audiences couldn't connect to me because I couldn't connect to me! Trust yourself to be yourself. Fanny Brice once said, "Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, you'll forget the pose and then where will you be?" Don't worry about perfection when you present. Focus more on your passion for the idea and your presentation will be as perfect as it needs to be.
Keep these 3 important points in mind and your next presentation may very well be your best ever.

Copyright Sue Hershkowitz-Coore. All Rights Reserved.

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