Confidence is probably at the very top of the list when it comes to the ‘must haves’ of a successful sales presentation.
So if yours is a little lower than it needs to be here are some tips:-
With so much to remember and get right, the confidence you thought you had when practising in your sitting room at home can easily evaporate when in front of your audience. Suddenly you’re in the ‘spotlight’, everyone’s looking up at you and they’re expecting great things. Meanwhile, you’re frozen in terror and you can’t even remember how to begin.
One excellent way to get round this is to mentally ‘role play’ your way into the scenario, beforehand. You will need to do this several times for it to be effective.
Close your eyes, and even if you are not familiar with the venue, visualise yourself in front of your audience. Let the words run through your mind. Envisage how good you will sound, in front of an appreciative audience as they engage with you.
Watch yourself delivering your best presentation, calm and in control, as you mentally speak to them. This is not the same as rehearsal; avoid speaking out loud when you role play, just let your mind do the work.
When you get out there for real, you will have visited the place so often in your mind, it won’t feel so intimidating - because you’ll be on familiar ground.
2. Don’t start too soon
It’s tempting when you stand up to start your sales presentation, to listen to your nerves telling you to launch in and get going. This not only doesn’t look very good, it also means you’re likely to begin gabbling. Once you start, you quickly find you can’t stop as you go racing along like the fast train from Waterloo.
Instead, stand for a few seconds and wait until the audience settles and you gain their full attention before speaking. You don’t have to look impatient or critical but this is your time and you’re already communicating this to the audience.
You are now in control, not your nerves or your audience. It may seem nerve wracking at first but well worth it. When you begin in control, you are likely to stay in control; you will also see the effect it has on your audience as they prepare to listen to you.
3. Leading the way
When you stand up to speak and it suddenly hits you that your confidence has evaporated, what can you do?
Remember your audience is there to listen to you – that’s why they turned up. They’ve come to learn something new and be inspired. You are in a far stronger position than they are because you are the person who has the answer to their problem.
Instead of thinking: ‘I’ve forgotten what it is I wanted to say’, think instead: ‘What can I give these people, how can I help them?’
What will they – and you – lose, if you don’t speak to them? What will they – and you – gain, if you do?
How you look, feel and dress has a direct effect on both the way you project yourself and how the audience perceives you, and relates to your topic.
Your image must establish a rapport with your audience and help them to feel you’re ‘one of them’.
Think about the occasion and the audience. How will the attendees be dressed? In formal, smart casual or even jeans?
Your image is part of the sale - it should be appropriate to both the presentation content and the audience, rather than a hurried afterthought.
When you rehearse at home, you will soon find the dog gets bored listening to you trotting out the same old thing and it isn’t always easy practising with family and friends.
Cut out a selection of faces from magazines or newspapers, including some famous ones. Attach blue tack and stick them around the room. This is your ‘audience’ and you can use their faces to practise eye contact.
Another tip is to switch the TV onto a news channel and turn down the volume. As newscasters read from an autocue, and will be highly trained and confident in their role, they will have direct eye contact with you. Now practice giving your presentation to the television as they look at you.
Maintaining good eye contact is one of the golden rules to boosting your confidence when speaking in public.
By Sandy Eifion-Jones, Toastmasters International