Last Wednesday, I spent the day teaching and coaching a small group of insurance salespeople on their presentation skills. Like you and me, these salespeople want to be better at informing and influencing the people they work with.
The best presenters and communicators make things look so easy. It’s as if they are just getting up and talking off the cuff.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
It turns out that there’s a critical ingredient to all effective presentations. It serves as the foundation that successful communicators build upon:
Have a structure, and prepare your structure in advance.
- What is your key message? Make sure it’s clear and to the point.
- What are your main supporting points? Make sure they connect back to the key message.
- Make sure everything you do and say reinforces the key message, so you’ll be remembered and understood.
Applying a sound structure was a giant “A-HA!” for many of the salespeople that day. By practicing creating and applying a structure, three different people got three incredible benefits from doing so.
Jim is a relatively quiet, introverted guy. He knows this about himself, and when he starts speaking, he puts in some extra effort to come across passionate about his topic. But when he had no structure, his presentation ran out of gas. By having a clear road map of where he wanted to go, Jim was able to sustain his energy through the end.
Sam is a bubbly, smart passionate guy who loves to talk. Sam’s challenge was that he could easily go off on tangents, and spend way too much time on minutiae that would ultimately undermine his credibility. People just got lost in the details. For Sam, the structure meant he could stay on topic and stay out of the weeds.
Helen came into the workshop terrified of talking to groups. She’s not alone, according to research, fear of public speaking ranks right behind fear of death.
When Helen got up to speak, she was so nervous that her vision would literally blur, she’d rush, and her breathing was shallow. It was a challenge for her to command her audience’s attention.
Once applying a clear structure and knowing where to go and what to do, Helen was transformed. She reported afterwards, “I’m calm. I can breathe. I can see your faces clearly.”
By all accounts of her peers, her confidence and presence went through the roof. It was as if she was a different person.
Energy, clarity, presence. Just some of the incredible benefits you’ll get when you structure and plan your presentations in advance.
What other benefits have you found by structuring your presentations in advance? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.