Home Entertaining and Catering Presentations

When you entertain at your home, it’s easy to show your food in beautiful bowls or on gorgeous platters. If you take food to someone else’s home, most people bring food in disposable plastic or aluminum containers. Plastic and aluminum are not usually eye-popping and your food doesn’t stand out until they taste it. No matter what dishes are used, presentation will make all the difference in the impression that your table will make.

Presentation can mean many things: table cloths, centerpieces, food holders, table accessories. 

1.   Let’s talk table cloths. These can be plain white or colored for the occasion. They can be a single layer or overlaid lace. You can put boxes or other sturdy items under the cloth to elevate some food above others. Food can be grouped on different color cloths for division; ie… a Christmas party may have appetizers on green cloths, entrĂ©es on red, desserts on gold and drinks on white.

2.      As for centerpieces, these can be flowers, candles, fountains, themed vases/pitchers, tiered holders for theme items (such as baby accessories at a baby shower). Your imagination makes these opportunities endless.

3.     Food holders can be a mix of things. I use my cream dishes for an elegant look. But, the majority of my parties use colored aluminum, colored plastic wrap, or non-disposable plastic serving items; all of which give a thoroughly delightful look to a table. Plastic serving items are light, colorful and easy to transport.

4.      Table accessories are unlimited. These can be colorful utensils, name placards for menu items, cut fruit/veggies for eating/displaying, clever holders for silver/plastic ware, or nonsensical theme items (holiday decorations, special salt/pepper shakers, little gifts for guests to take home) placed around the food.

However you wish to display the table, use a theme or color scheme and your guests will rave over the food and presentation. Oooh’s and aahhh’s are just as good as getting paid, well, almost. Please visit my blog at www.homebasedcatering.blogspot.com.

Unique Anniversary Gifts – Learn to Stay Away From Traditional Anniversary Presents

Year in and year out I have seen people flip through the pages of a gift book, looking for unique anniversary gifts. I have some bad news people, you just are not going to find it in there. Those are for the traditional anniversary presents, and you really need to learn to stay away from them.

First off, traditional anniversary presents are tacky, and boring to the point of uninspired. Those magazines you flip through are designed to have simple gifts, for the simple giver. They could blindly pick something out, give the gift, and move on with their hum drum lives.

If this is you, then here are a few reason why you need to learn to stay away from traditional anniversary presents:

- it might be re-gifted. You might even get it back. I’ve seen it happen, so don’t say it won’t happen to you.

- getting the pained look of fake joy on their faces as they think of how to get rid of this thing as fast as possible.

- finding it in the garbage, and either having to ask them about it, or knowing it’s there, and leaving it at that.

- asking them about how they liked the gift, either a bizarre story about how it was lost or borken, or how they love using it, and then telling you a story about it, and you realize they don’t even remember what you got them.

Those are only 4 possibilities on what might happen if you try to give them something from a cold, lifeless book. Didn’t you ever wish someone else would find something unique for you? I know you do, I feel the same way. Why would they, if you won’t? That is the question you really have to ask yourself.

So now that you’ve learned to stay away from traditional anniversary presents, and to buy only unique anniversary gifts, the next thing you need to know is where to find them. That’s easy, look for a professionally, hand crafted, artisan product. You will not find anything more unique anywhere else. Since it is handcrafted, it can never really, truly be replicated. Think about it, wouldn’t you want a unique gift?

Presentations That Sell – Seven Fatal Flaws and How to Fix Them, Part 3

You are serious about sales and you want to be the poster child for saying it right–so you can repeat your successes and avoid the failures.

Here’s the problem. As technology becomes increasingly complex and every desk becomes a wireless hub, a printing press, a research library and a record archive, it is clear that machines are getting better and better at communicating with each other and people . . . are not.

We now have broader bandwidth, instant connections and wireless access–and nobody talks. We have telecommuting, teleconferencing and automated messaging–and nobody responds. Most PowerPoint presentations are better than Thorazine for putting an audience to sleep and most presenters are a pale imitation of R2D2 whose delivery style could be described as practically giddy by comparison.

It’s time to get real, time to put people back in business, to make person to person connections–the heart of the sales process. So what can you do to make your presentations come alive? Eliminate the third fatal flaw.

You deliver “professionally”.

Hands serenely at your sides or carefully clasped like a member of the choir, you begin with the tried and trite, “Hello. My name is (fill in the blank) from (fill in the blank). Thank you for inviting us to present our (fill in the blank). We’re very excited to be here today representing (fill in the blank) and we have a very exciting presentation to show you. But before I begin, I’d like to introduce my team. This is (fill in the blank) from (fill in the blank). This is (fill in the blank) from (fill in the blank).”

You may think you look professional when in fact, you simply look weird. You may think you sound like a pro when we all understand intuitively that professional speakers are warm, animated and engaging. And if you think anyone in your audience will remember a single name you have recited, you are sadly mistaken.

A brilliant presentation is one that feels to your listeners like a conversation among friends. When friends talk to each other, they look friendly. Real people move easily. They smile often. They tell stories to illustrate important points and they punctuate words with gestures and real, human expression.

If you are presenting “professionally” it’s time to free yourself to be yourself. Be real when you present and your audience will respond with real pleasure. They’ll have found a “friend in the business” which means they will like you. When they like you, you win–because we all know that people buy from people they like.

Preparing An Older Home For The Market: Tips For The Best Presentation And Price

A home that has been lived in for over fifteen years by the same owner should be carefully prepared for the resale market in order to present it competitively. Building codes have changed over time, and you will want the home to present well when the prospective purchasers have their home inspection. If attention is not taken before the property is listed, various defects may be unknown and cause serious problems which could result in a deal falling through if the buyer and seller cannot agree on a remedy. Then the home owner is faced with having to disclose deficits to other potential purchasers, and this may make the home less than attractive to possible buyers.

Our advice is to hire a qualified home inspector do a pre-inspection on the property, and to make the appropriate repairs before listing. Anything that would cost the home owner more than they wish to spend may be referenced on the listing as being sold in “as is” condition.

Some features that may come up would include are the following:

Vermiculite insulation- This can be a problem as some vermiculite contains asbestos which is a health hazard. A qualified laboratory can test samples of this product for around $400.00 and verify if asbestos is present.

Mold- This may be present in areas where moisture has penetrated. This can possibly be in the attic or basement or behind walls. There are various treatments to remove it from the home, and the reason it occurred in the first place must be dealt with. Is there a leak present that needs to be repaired as well?

Basement leaks- Be sure to have these repaired, and request that a warranty for the work is written on the bill.

Wood trim around windows and doors should be properly prepared and painted.

Downspouts should be extended six feet from the house to prevent possible basement leaks and dangerous ice build ups.

Replace or repair any defective outlets. If there is aluminum wiring on the property, be sure the proper outlets are installed.

Have the electrical panel and wiring checked to be sure it is up to code.

The recommend pre-home inspection carried out by a qualified home inspector will identify any unknown defects. Preparing a house properly may take some time and expense, but in the competitive real estate market it will allow you to market the house with confidence and negotiate for the best price.

If there are any structures that are close to the lot line, double check what the minimum set backs are for that part of town. Make sure if a structure is not conforming to current by-laws you are aware of it and you do your best to rectify the situation.

A well prepared house is far less stressful to sell.

One final point- Select your agent wisely. Be sure that they are willing to put the time and attention into your property before it goes on the market.

Sales Presentations – The Big Picture!

A common sales myth is that you make a sales presentation. Most B2B sales are not impulse-driven but the result of a set of sales presentations, which, when coordinated properly, produce the end result: buying.

The danger of the myth is that companies don’t coordinate all aspects of the presentation-related events. Typically, buyers have to develop trust and confidence in:

- the product or service

- the company’s ability to stand behind it over time

- the sales team/person’s ability to tailor the product/service to meet the buyer’s needs today and tomorrow.

A sales “presentation” includes all the buyer/company touch-points from receptionists to website presentation. All must be aligned to deliver, powerfully the key messages of why the buyer should choose your company, product and sales person. There has to be a clear and convincing, rational and emotional triggered communication of its competitive advantage. Without it, the sales person has to work harder than necessary to get the message across, as he/she has to overcome fear of risk, uncertainty about long-term success, and doubt as to the benefit. This produces an unnecessary expenditure of sales effort or, even worse, loses the sale entirely.

The sales team must make sure all elements of the sales-chain are aligned and focused. Depending on which stage you’re in, the presentation content differs because it’s addressing the concerns of different people.

- The Scout wants to identify firms providing needed products and services

- The Qualifier wants the detailed features: does the product/service meet the company’s specifications

- The Decision-Maker (and team of influential) needs to determine whether he wants to be held accountable for making the decision, given the implications for his organization.

The key to success is orchestrating the presentation’s message and means of delivery so all the parts are aligned and reinforce one another. Whether you’re coordinating a presentation by a tightly knit team (e.g., responding to an RFP) or coordinating customer service, sales and operations, you want to make sure that everyone looks and sounds like they are working together. Just as everyone on a relay team has to pass the baton smoothly to the next person, each person in a sales team needs to perform their part without gaps or unnecessary repetition.

The task, therefore of the sales director, is to be an effective “orchestra conductor” making sure that all the “instruments” are delivering complementary components of a powerful message that compel the audience to take the desired action: BUY!

Presentations Tip 02 – Begin With the End in Mind

Stephen Covey offers this advice in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The book is a guide to developing your personal leadership. “Begin with the end in mind” is the first habit and thus likely the most important. You can apply this first habit from Stephen Covey’s leadership prinpcles  to your presentation in three ways.

1. Develop your presentation with the end in mind. The first thing that you should do is to write a short simple statement that clarifies your purpose. Then you will develop your presentation faster and it will be better focused. Invest the time and thought to clairify the purpose and desired outcomes of your presentation. Too many people speak just because they were asked or told to speak. Thus, their presentation becomes a chore – to them and the audience.

2. Give your audience a roadmap. Tell your audience, early in your presentation, where you are going. Don’t make them guess – because you might lose, confuse or annoy them. Your audiences needs to know why they should listen to you. They have plenty of others things on their mind and they will not give you the attention you want unless you convince them that you know where you are going.

For example: “By the end of this presentation you will have a better understanding and appreciation of the safety measures that we have put into place for you.”

3. Deliver your presentation with the end in mind. The only reason you are speaking is to achieve your goal. Stay focused on your goal during your presentation so you don’t get thrown by diversions or drawn off on tangents. And if you reach your goal early – they agreed to the deal – then finish your presentation early and sign the contract.

When you know where you are going you will avoid the tangents and diversions that often destroy presentations. When you begin with the end in mind you will waste less time and be more effective. Use the advice of Stephen Covey – Begin with the end in mind.

Guidelines to Achieve a Professional Visual Presentation

Presentations can be difficult at the best of times when there is a lot riding on the result, so the last thing you want to be worrying about is the audio visual component. In this articles I will present some basic guidelines that will help you set the room layout so you can achieve the highest quality projection from your presentation.

General Guide-Lines

Viewing

  • For optimum viewing, the audience should be seated within:
  • +30 degrees of a line perpendicular to the screen’s centre.
  • They should be seated no closer then twice the image height.

Note: (If this is not possible perhaps consider multiple viewing options for the audience).

Type of Content

  • Entertainment – The last row should be no further than eight times the image height.
  • Corporate – The last row should be to six times the image height.
  • Critical Applications – The last row should be four times the image height

Setting the Screen

To avoid obstruction of viewing he bottom of the screen should be approximately four feet (1200mm) above the floor. If the seating is staggered, or if the floor is raked you can adjust this accordingly. Try and avoid setting the screen to high. The ergonomics associated with comfortable viewing indicate no viewer should have to rotate their head more than +30 degrees from straight ahead, or tilt their head no more than 25degrees from horizontal.

Seating

The design of the seating is very important so viewers can gain full sight of the projection. Often the staggered seating arrangement is best suited for most situations. Overall they must be in rows, with a minimum unobstructed horizontal clearance between plumb lines from the front of an unoccupied seat to the back of the seat in front. This clearance may vary, but is typically 16 inches (400mm). Aisles must be provided so that there are no more than seven seats between any one seat and an aisle. The entry and exit doors need to be take into account when designing the layout of the seating. The layout needs to designed to:

  • Allow for easy of enter into the room
  • Allow for quick exit in the event of an emergency
  • The row contains no more than 100 seats;
  • Each doorway serves no more than three rows.
  • Aisles must terminate in a cross-aisle.

Front or Rear Projection?

There are a variety of factors that can determine whether front or rear projections are best suited for your presentations.

Front Projection

  • Front Projection can generally provide a wider viewing-angle than rear projection. It requires: Controlled lighting (ambient light must be kept off the screen to eliminate a reduction in contrast ratio).
  • Requires either a projection room at the rear of the theatre, or a platform or mount for the projector(s) out in the theatre. Note that this latter is a potential noise source.
  • The projection geometry must be carefully worked out to get the best compromise between image keystoning and blockage of the light path by the audience.
  • Must be accessible for maintenance. A projection booth must be dust free (positive pressure preferred), and have adequate ventilation.

Rear Projection

  • Rear Projection Generally has a narrower viewing-angle than front projection – better for long, narrow rooms.
  • Can be viewed with higher levels of room illumination, and is less immune to “wash out” by ambient lighting.
  • Available in flexible & rigid materials. A rigid screen is more expensive than a front projection screen, and has size restrictions.
  • Requires space behind the screen. Mirrors may be used to reduce the required depth. Must be accessible for maintenance.
  • Rear projection room must be dust free, and have adequate ventilation.

To decide whether front or rear projection will enhance your presentation, ask yourself ‘What type of presentation do I want to give’ and “What is the purpose of the presentation’. If for example the presentation is “canned” you can consider either front or rear projection. If a live talker is interacting with the presentation, rear projection is best so that the speaker can interact with the images without being in the projector’s light path. In addition, the higher allowable room illumination allows for note-taking, etc.

Screen Width

Determine your minimum screen height based on the distance to your farthest viewer and your ceiling height. This figure may be adjusted based on the application (e.g.: an entertainment application will require a larger than minimum size screen for impact).

ADA Requirements

Where required arrangements will need to be made for attendees who require wheelchair access, and/or who have visual or hearing impairments The accessibility and size of these spaces is defined as:

A minimum number of aisle seats will be required to have either no aisle-side armrest or an aisle-side armrest that folds up. Certain additional signage may be required. Your sound system will require the addition of a hearing-assisted system. Your emergency systems may require the addition of strobe signals or visual messaging systems. Your video and other visual presentation systems may require captioning.

Miscellaneous Considerations

Equipment location

Is very important to avoid any damage. This is usually, but not always, located at the projector(s). This equipment may include projection controllers, a show controller, video equipment, and audio equipment.

Adequate power supply

Don’t forget to provide adequate electrical power for this equipment and the projector(s). Don’t forget to allow conduit for speaker cables, control signals, etc. For boardrooms and meeting rooms you will also want to provide accessible sources (such as VCR’s and DVD players).

Aesthetics or Theme

  • Does it require the loudspeakers and other equipment be concealed?
  • How is the presentation started?
  • Automatically,
  • Audience-demand,
  • Host-demand, and live presenter (may require random-access control or other interactivity).

Whether your presentation is for the boss or for a large corporation, taking a moment to plan how you would like to deliver the information can make a significant difference to your audience. So take a moment a review what you are wanting to say, how you would like to say it and how is the best way for your audience to receive it. It could make the difference between wining that new job or losing it.

Public Speaking & Business Presentations – Feel and Share Your Passion For Self, Subject & Audience

Among the qualities great communicators personify, whether in public speaking or in business presentations, are passion, sincerity, confidence, humility and credibility. Your ability to effectively persuade an audience, will directly correspond with the level to which you personify these qualities.

Of course, great presentation skills require that you first are knowledgeable about your subject of discussion as well as articulate in your presentation of this subject.

To be a great public speaker, first inhabit and own knowledge and passion about yourself. I don’t mean this in a vain or narcissistic way, but in an organic, appreciative way. We are most taken and moved by people who truly know themselves, believe in themselves and have a passionate position about an important subject that they need to share with us.

But as a great public speaker or business presentations expert, your self-appreciation should be balanced with an even greater dose of humility and appreciation for others, your audience in particular.

Next, as a great public speaker, be passionate and knowledgeable about your message. Not just the subject of your message, but your personal perspective on your message. Audiences don’t want overly opinionated speakers, but they do want to hear your perspective, expertise and passion.

Once you begin your speech, your passion, focus and intent is on the audience and your need to reach and move them with your important message. This is the most important of public speaking and presentation skills. The ability to connect with your audience visually, intellectually and emotionally.

It’s important to reiterate that kind of self-knowledge and self-enthusiasm that you, as a great public speaker, want to personify is not the egotistic, self-centeredness we find in self-absorbed people. The effective public speaking pro wants humanistic self-awareness, as well as other-people awareness.

In public speaking and in business presentations, inhabit and express enthusiasm and joy to be alive and part of the interconnected whole of being in general, and a part of this group you speak with in particular. This includes an awareness and appreciation that the people you seek to motivate are an equal part of this greater beingness of humanity and that everyone benefits from your message.

In public speaking, business presentations or any other kind of presentation, your audience will buy your message based on emotion. We are all persuaded most by our feelings, not by our intellect.

You want to reach into people’s lives and minds, but most of all, their hearts and souls, and let them know that you understand their pain, their joy, their fear, their needs; that you too have been or are there or at least you understand and that you have knowledge, tools, information and inspiration that can support them in their mission to emerge victorious. You have the genuine concern, understanding and sympathy regarding their needs and life experience and you have tools that will fill the gap between where they are now and where they want to be in life.

To gain the confidence of your audience and their commitment to act on your message, you must inhabit passion (for your subject of discussion in particular), sincerity, confidence, humility and credibility.

Presentation skills can be learned. Few of us are born speakers. With commitment and practice, you can become a brilliant public speaker or presentation expert and rock your business and income.

Overcoming the Fear of Sales Presentations and Public Speaking – Part 1

If the thought of an upcoming sales presentation or speech causes you to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, you are not alone. Whether it’s an important sales meeting with your boss, an open discussion with customers or a keynote speech in front of an audience of hundreds, the fear of critical sales presentations and public speaking keeps many a sales presenter awake at night. If you have an upcoming sales pitch or speaking engagement, breathe deeply; effective sales presentation training can help you address and manage your fear.

First let’s examine the kind of fear many salespeople experience before speaking in a professional setting when the stakes are high. We don’t mean the fear that pushes you to think through and prepare for the sales pitch; we are talking about the kind of paralyzing fear that takes you from excited anticipation to dread-the fear that detracts from your ability to concentrate and drains your energy and lets your competitors win.

When this fear rears its ugly head, you have a choice of three responses.

1. You can ignore it.
This is the most common response but it has very negative consequences. It affects your performance as you deliver your sales presentation in a very physical way. You are apt to move stiffly rather than in a casual, confident manner; your breathing may be uneven and show your stress; your voice is likely to betray your unease. All these manifestations reduce your ability to connect with your audience and prevent you from conveying genuine excitement about your message.

2. You can avoid it.
Though you will need a longer term solution, this response can at least help you in the interim. You can take this step in order to create the time and space to devise more effective, more lasting approaches for effective sales presentations.

3. You can overcome it.
To overcome the debilitating fear of failing, follow the strategy of professional athletes. They imagine the desired end result in great detail…exactly how it will look and feel to cross the finish line ahead of the pack or carve the perfect figure eight on the ice. Creative visualization is a powerful and effective way to move away from scary thoughts and consciously move toward your goal of speaking confidently and engaging the audience.

To use the visualization technique successfully, here are some guidelines:

  • Feel the emotions as you imagine reaching your goal. Music can be the vehicle to help you do this. Who can forget how the high energy Rocky theme came to symbolize the hard work, dedication, perseverance and ultimate triumph of the down-and-out fighter?
  • Observe your success in your mind from the point of view of an outsider. See the whole event…your confident, smooth, persuasive delivery and the receptive and attentive audience. Then imagine the scene from the point of view of you as presenter. What does it feel like to easily find the words to make your points and address an audience that is transfixed by your message?
  • Place yourself in the actual setting. Imagine the scene…the stage, the room, the seating arrangement…so that you can picture the event with even greater detail.

Are you ready now to try a visualization exercise? Think of an upcoming public speaking challenge and walk through the following steps:

  1. Picture yourself seated in the room prior to the sales presentation. How will you feel as your time nears?
  2. You’ve been introduced. Imagine approaching the stage. Is your heart pounding? Let this be a sign of excitement rather than fear.
  3. Once on the stage, look directly at the audience. Breathe deeply and imagine a feeling of calm with your buyers.
  4. Take a moment to really see the faces of the group before you. Are they ready for you? Do you need to shift gears a bit before you launch into your prepared sales presentation? Feel the confidence that comes from observing your audience closely and being flexible enough to adapt to their feelings, goals, and needs.

Practice this technique and you will find that, little by little, your fear will decrease and your effectiveness and confidence with sales presentations and as a public speaker will increase.

Business Presentations – Build Faster, Clearer Business Presentations by Asking Questions

Most people who have to build a business presentation do it wrong. They start by making a note of everything they want to say in the presentation; dead wrong. All that happens is a lot of rambling with no points and no structure. So if you’ve got a blank page and you have to turn it into a presentation what do you do? Easy start with questions not answers.

As a management consultant I must have built over 300 different presentations over the past ten years. About five years in I got fed up spending hours and hours building business presentations that literally sent my audience to sleep.

Then one day I was given a brief by a client for their presentation. But the brief was different, rather than telling me what they wanted me to say, they sent me a list of questions.

And guess what. It was the easiest presentation I’ve ever built in my life, it practically wrote its-self. But it gets better, the client loved it. The audience gave me 10/10, and look at what they said:

“The clearest presentation I ever heard.”

“It was like reading a good book chapter by chapter right to the sizzling conclusion.”

Since then I’ve never done it any other way. And I’ve taught it to hundreds of trainers and consultants, they all report faster to build, clearer presentations.

So here’s the, nothing held back, secrets.

1. Start by writing out the big question you’re trying to answer, just like a term paper e.g.
“What are the two most important skills a leader needs in business today?”

2. Answer the big question e.g.
“To understand her customers’ problems and know how to fix them.”

3. Write out all the sub-questions you now have about the answer to the big question e.g.

  • “Why should you start with looking at the business from the customers’ perspective?”
  • “How do you identify what angers and frustrates customers?”
  • “Having got the information, what should you do with it?”
  • “How do make sure that the organisation has the capability to meet the customer need?”
  • “How do you engage your staff in the exercise?”

4. Now you make a note of the answers, with supporting evidence for each question.

5. Finally, based on the information name your presentation, use each question as the agenda, get some cool images, drop them into power point and you’re good to go.

Now do yourself a favour. Stop doing hours of presentation planning. Stop buying expensive speaking programmes. Instead, work on your structure.

If you have a look at all the articles I’ve posted on this site you can get everything you’ll ever need to build outrageously good business presentations for free.

And start with this: stop looking for answers and start asking questions.