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Public Speaking


Ten Powerful Presentation Skills Secrets to Outselling Your Competition

by Ed Sykes

copyright © The Sykes Group

Usually, you have one opportunity to present your organization’s ideas, products, and/or services to the audience. You work on the account for months and the presentation is your big moment. You speak to an under enthusiastic, yet polite audience; they thank you for your presentation and say they will get back to you. Unfortunately, after the presentation you learn that they went with another vendor.

What Happened?

It amazes me how often we see presenters with only one opportunity to make a presentation to sell their products, services, or ideas who come nowhere near meeting the needs of their audience. It’s almost as if the presenter is apologizing for making a presentation, and this prevents them from presenting well.

Why is it important for you to give a powerful presentation that sells you and your organization? You face more competition during these economic times, so you need to stand out so that the prospective “customer” chooses you as their provider. Your job as a presenter is to convince the decision-makers, whether they your managers during a meeting or potential new clients, to choose your organization or act on the information shared during your presentation. The following are ten presentation skills secrets that will help you give a powerful presentation that will sell you to decision makers:

  1. Research Audience Needs
    Invest time to find out what is important to the audience members so that you can meet their specific needs. Find out what challenges they face and how you can help them overcome these challenges. You will find out your audience members will appreciate your presentation more since you took the time to find out what is most important to them.
  1. Be Organized
    Have a clear opening, body, and closing to your speech. Take the time to outline your main points and keep it simple. Don’t put everything in your presentation. Keep your presentation to three main points with sub points.
  1. Get Excited
    Show your excitement and passion for the subject you present. When you are excited and it shows, the audience will also become excited about your presentation. Excited audience members are audience members who will take action.
  1. Dress the Part
    A friend once told me, “Dress like you want to be listened to.” Take time to dress the part of an expert. Be professional in the way you dress. Investing in your looks shows the audience that you respect them and want to do a good job for them.
  1. Open Strong
    Bring in the audience members by creating a strong opening that will engage and challenge the audience. Be confident and know your material so that rest of the presentation will be smooth.
  1. Present Features and Benefits
    Most presentations I listen to are laden with feature after feature of what the organization does. You will distance yourself from the competition by presenting how the features you present will benefit the decision makers. The difference between features and benefits is that features are elements a product or service has (e.g., easy opening parts, multiple customer service shifts, fast processors), while benefits are how those features can benefit the customer (e.g., easy opening parts allow you to quickly clean the product without hassle, multiple customer service shifts provide you with 24/7 service so that you get the answer you need when you need them, fast processor allow you to process your work in half the time). Remember, decision makers will not care about you and your organization until they see how your organization will benefit them.
  1. Questions Are the Answer
    As you prepare for your presentation, ask the following question: “What are the possible questions I might be asked during my presentation?” Once you have a list of possible questions, develop powerful answers. Develop the mindset that questions asked by the audience are positive because they give you clues to how you can adjust your presentation to meet their needs. So, embrace questions as a way to make your presentation better.
  1. Use PowerPoint As An Aid
    How many presentations have you seen that suffered “death by PowerPoint?” The presenter has hundreds of slides they must go through. The slides are cluttered with several lines of text and multiple graphics on the each page. Presenters read directly from every slide, as the audience grows bored. Remember the following to prevent death by PowerPoint:
    You are the presentation; PowerPoint is the supporting aid to your presentation.
    If your presentation cannot work without PowerPoint, it’s not a strong presentation. Look for unique ways to simplify your presentation by eliminating PowerPoint slides that do not enhance your message.
  1. Close Strong
    Close your presentation by asking audience members to take action on the information you shared in your presentation. Ask the decision-makers in your audience to take the next step and chose you and/or your company. Repeat the benefits of doing business with you so that you become the obvious choice.
  1. Ask for Feedback
    Your presentation doesn’t end with your closing. After your presentation, ask for feedback from decision-makers in the audience. Listen to the feedback so that you can address the concerns they may have concerning you and your organization.

Your job is to stand out and be a cut above the rest of the competition so that decision-makers will choose you or your organization. Follow the ten presentation secrets and you will gain more opportunities and success.

Additional Presentation Resources


How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking in Seven Powerful Steps

Presentation Skills: Seven Presentation Secrets Learned from the Academy Awards

May I Have Your Attention, Please?  Five Ways to Retain Focus and Stay in the Moment

Explain Yourself! The Reason Why Excuses Sabotage Your Success

E-mail Protocol – 12 Simple Rules to Stay Connected

Common Courtesy Isn’t So Common – 10 Telephone Blunders in Everyday Business

Verbal Faux Pas – The Words You Use Can Empower or Confuse

Bite Your Tongue! 10 Ways to Be an Effective Listener

Five Secrets to “Thinking on Your Feet”

Ten Quick Tips for Outstanding Presentations

Dr. Seuss's "The Cat in the Hat" Will Help You Get Your Point Across! (Yes you can, here's the plan!)

How to Set Boundaries and Say No 


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