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22 May 2018
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The thought of giving a presentation can be a terrifying one for even the most seasoned businessperson. Having to stand in front of colleagues, superiors, complete strangers or important clients – sometimes all at once! – can set the pulse racing, the sweat glands pouring and leave your tongue twisted, tied-up and uncooperative, to say the least. 

However, the real tragedy in this scenario is the fact that all your hard work and great ideas are rendered far less impactful by a poor presentation. You might have a game-changing idea or a report to blow your boss’ mind, but if your presentation is a mess it will leave your audience with a less than impressed perception of you and your work.

So, next time you’re required to give a presentation, try these tips that actually help, instead of imagining your audience naked and ending up queasy, uneasy, or on the wrong end of a sexual harassment workshop!

1)  Prep like a pro

Presentation preparation should extend beyond simply firing up PowerPoint, scribbling on some cue cards and dry-cleaning your ‘take me seriously’ suit. Although it’s crucial to ensure your props and visual cues are on point, you should spend time learning your presentation intimately – practice it in front of the mirror and really get comfortable with the content to ensure you aren’t just standing in front of your audience reading from a sheet of paper. If you really know your stuff, you’ll have some freedom to improvise should you draw a blank and the cue cards just don’t cut it. You will also come across as far more knowledgeable and genuine, and the audience will warm to that and the effort you’ve clearly put in.

Furthermore, it never hurts to get a feel for your audience before presenting to them. Are you talking to a no-nonsense boardroom of time-poor executives? They might not appreciate your ‘working hard, or hardly working, amiright?’ one-liner – whilst, conversely, it might go down a hit with the sales staff. Cater your presentation to your audience and you’re bound to make a more positive impression.

2)  Strike fast, reel ‘em in slow

The fishing analogy might not register with everyone, but the sentiment is rather apparent: start your presentation off on an exciting note, hook them, take your time winning them over, then land it on the right note.

When you first stand up in front of your audience they should hopefully be receptive to what you have to say, or at the very least, they will give you a fair chance to make your case. If, however, you stand up there and immediately start pouring over the latest sales figures, they will probably switch off before you even get through your first slide. Once you’ve lost the attention of your audience you aren’t likely to recapture it, and your presentation will fall flat.

It’s essential that you grip the audience as soon as you start speaking. Open with an insightful quote, an interesting fact or statistic or an entertaining anecdote to get them hooked, then proceed to spoon-feed them the less exciting stuff (though you would do well to spice this up too and present ‘boring’ information as concisely and passionately as possible to keep the audience interested). If you excite them from the off, you will have a much longer window of attention to work with.

3)  Talk to them, not at them

Don’t ever think of a presentation as, well, a presentation – it’s a conversation. You’re not standing up there to reel off monotonous facts and stats, you’re conveying important information in an interactive, engaging, and hopefully two-way discussion that allows your audience to feel like they are part of the performance.

If you just stand up there and talk at them unenthusiastically, without creating eye-contact, they aren’t really going to care about what you’re saying, even if they feign it. You aren’t a presentation bot reading out the daily news, you’re a fellow human being sharing something that you actually care about, and you want them to care too. Ask the audience questions, or for a show of hands, ask for their input or opinion; make them feel included and they will take a vested interest in the content of your presentation.

4)  Learn from the experience

You don’t exactly need to go as far as videoing yourself during the presentation, unless you’re that way inclined, but you should always be open to feedback from your colleagues and members of the audience. Don’t shy away from constructive criticism and try to take this information on board and use it to refine your presentation technique.

As with anything in life, the more you practice something, the better you get. Although you may not regularly give presentations, you will find that  improving your presentation skills not only makes you better at public speaking, but enhances your confidence, empowers you in the workplace, and allows you to assert yourself in a number of social situations.

So, next time you give a presentation, don’t fear it: embrace it as an opportunity to share your hard work, improve yourself and show what a powerhouse you can be!

 

17 May 2018
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The impact that social media has had on the contemporary business world simply cannot be understated. With just over 40% of the world’s population numbering amongst ‘active social media users’, or people that use social media on a daily bases, it has never been easier for businesses and brands to not only reach a diverse and engaged audience/target market, but to foster authentic, valuable relationships with them, going beyond simple business transactions.

 

Social stats

 

So in this era of ubiquitous social media saturation, are there any implications for brands that choose not to have a social media presence? As a small business, does it really matter if you’re not engaging on Facebook or hashtagging on Instagram along with the rest of the world? Let’s take a look at some of the cons of neglecting social media:

Drastically reduced audience reach

This couldn’t really be clearer. As the most recent stats show (see infographic above) of the 4 billion plus internet users, over 3.1 billion are actively engaged on various social media platforms. You have a website, right? Well, if you have a website to cater for the digital audience, you should also have a social media presence to ensure you aren’t missing out on reaching that massive audience.

Risk of becoming outdated

The modern consumer is more connected than ever before, and with a smartphone in nearly every pocket, these tech zombies are spending much of their waking life browsing on their devices. As such, this connected consumer opts to do as much as possible online, including interacting with the brands they use. If your customer can’t find you on social media, it may just be a matter of time before they lose you entirely.

Missing out on the conversation

As a business dealing with individual consumers you are bound to receive both good and bad feedback from your customers. Unfortunately, a negative experience simply can’t always be avoided, and someone is going to have a bone to pick with you at some point. In the ‘good old days’ they might have picked up the phone and called your office line to complain, but in the age of social media, they are far more likely to go on a Facebook rant. If your business has no social presence, you probably won’t ever know about disgruntled customers badmouthing you to their circle of friends, but in this case ignorance certainly isn’t bliss. Just as positive word of mouth can do wonders for your business, negative sentiments can lead to unwanted consequences such as lost sales, reputational damage and even boycotting of your brand.

So, although you can’t always control or steer the narrative around your business on social media, if you are aware of it and can attempt to engage with a stilted keyboard warrior, you might be able to save face and sway the hearts and minds of the social media masses.

Falling behind the competition

The simple truth is that, although your business might not have a social media presence, at least some of your competitors will. And whilst your nemeses may be creating crappy content or sharing terrible memes through their Instagram account, they are engaging with your shared customer pool, showing they take an interest in more than just their consumers’ wallets. You might provide a far superior product or service, but the modern consumer demands more, they want to feel a personal connection to the brands they love and engage with them on a more intangible level than a simple, cold transaction.

So, although using social media simply for the sake of it isn’t going to drastically change the face of your business, making an effort and finding your audience in their comfort zone can ensure you aren’t doing potential harm to your brand. Get with the times and embrace the future of connected consumption!