Salespeople are no strangers to presenting. Whether it’s at a conference, sales kickoff, or simply on a sales call, there are numerous situations where presentations are common. What many sales leaders don’t understand is that a presentation can make or break a deal, partnership or event. And it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. I spoke with Jennifer Kammeyer, a professional communication coach that has helped numerous business leaders with the preparation and execution of presentations, who offers five tips for improving presentations for salespeople.
1. Cater to your audience.
Too often people get nervous about presenting, and only think about rushing to get through it. Putting the focus on the audience—why attendees are there, what they want to hear and learn—will make for a more beneficial experience for both the presenter and the audience. Whether on a sales call or presenting publicly, make sure that your audience is getting what they wanted to get out of your presentation or conversation.
2. Use a story structure.
This is more pertinent for speeches and public presentations, but can be useful on sales calls as well. Creating a story doesn’t necessarily mean using an anecdote (though this can be helpful to foster understanding). But making sure your presentation has a beginning, middle and end and constantly summarizing what points have been discussed will help your audience easily follow your presentation. Signaling where the presentation is headed provides clarity for your audience, encouraging them to be more attentive.
3. Leverage verbal and nonverbal communication.
When most people are preparing for a presentation, most of the focus is on what will be said, not how it is going to be said. According to Kammeyer, research has found that 50-85% of all communication is nonverbal. There is a good chance you don’t plan this nonverbal communication, but it is crucial to focus on how you are delivering your presentation so it comes across as natural and confident. Focusing on word choice, gestures, voice variation, and body language will help this preparation.
4. Make visual aids work for you.
Visual aids, such as Powerpoint slides, pointers and even podiums can take away from your presentation. Your brain can’t process visual and verbal aids at the same time, so if you are reading right from your slides you are asking your audience to choose between reading along with you and listening to your speech. Keeping your visual aids simple and relevant will help keep your audience engaged.
5. Keep it interactive.
Another drawback of reading straight from your slides is that your audience is simply following along, disengaged. Even your speech needs punctuation; pausing, asking questions and listening consciously to audience responses makes it easy for your audience to follow along and stay involved. While pausing might seem awkward, it gives your audience a chance to catch up and digest what your message is. This is especially important in online interactions, such as demos, screen shares and webinars. It also ties back to our first tip: asking questions keeps the presentation about the audience and what they are trying to get out of it.
These tips are useful for any public presentation, but especially for sales interactions. When you are preparing for a presentation or sales call, make sure to focus on the audience and the quality of delivery, not just the words you plan on saying. This will lead to more successful presentations, sales conversations, and maybe even a few closed deals.
Jennifer Kammeyer is a professional communication coach who helps leaders improve their reputations and their businesses through effective presentations and communication. Sales professionals work with Jennifer for improving communication for raising funds, launching new endeavors, interacting with the media, holding company meetings, and delivering sales presentations.