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.

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.

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.