​PowerSpeaking Blog: Tips and strategies for crafting presentations

The Fine Art of Drinking Wine from a Beer Glass (or, Knowing What a Customer Wants)

Say your company is offering a new line of artisanal beer glasses designed by local glass blowers. You’ve just stepped in front of the C-level team of a large wine and spirits firm to wow them with your product.   You don’t want to waste any time, so you launch right into your pitch. Three minutes into your presentation, the CEO stops you and says, “Wait. We’re discontinuing our beer line this winter.” Uh-oh. Wrong product, wrong time? Not necessarily.  Listening more upfront, establishing the need before you advocate, or having an internal coach can avoid wasted time.


It’s a Conversation, Not a Pitch

Ever tried to have a conversation with someone who absently nods while you talk because—you can see—he or she is just waiting to say what they want to say?  Annoying, right?  Makes you feel like getting up and walking out of the room?  Welcome to the world of a potential customer who is at the receiving end of a one-way sales pitch.  


Know Thy Customer

KNOW THYSELF?  BETTER YET:  KNOW THY CUSTOMER.  The sales landscape is littered with stories of salespeople who pitched products and services to potential customers they didn’t bother to research.  Taking a naïve (at best) or arrogant (at worst) approach, these kind of salespeople think all they need to do is dazzle with facts, figures and sales acumen to seal the deal.  Or they think the product pretty much sells itself, so why do any research about potential buyers?

We recently interviewed 24 top executives in the process of developing our SalesSpeaking® course.  Listen to Sharon Black, President of Strategic Accounts at Robert Half International, as she tells the story of the novice salesperson who didn’t put much stock in knowing his audience.  


Video Preview: Guiding Principles for Starting Effective Sales Conversations

Starting an engaging sales conversation takes more than the words you use — it’s about presence. Watch this short clip from our newly redesigned SalesSpeaking® program to understand the role presence plays, and how to break free of routine interaction. As Everett Oliven, Group VP Sales at Oracle says, you won’t be successful if “you take a cookie-cutter solution to a complex problem.” Learn how to move the conversation forward at every stage of the sales process with SalesSpeaking. Our next program is December 7.



Center of Attention: Dealing With Audiences and Devices

The prevalence of personal devices — from laptops to smartphones to tablets and now even smartwatches — poses a challenge for presenters. When you're speaking, you are trained to want an audience's undivided attention. It's natural to feel irritated or disheartened during a presentation when you see people looking down at their phones as opposed to looking up at you.

In today’s world, as a speaker, we may need a new mindset. An audience glued to their devices isn't always the kiss of death. In many ways, devices are simply another tool to help enrich and enliven your presentation — or at least something you can simply work around. Here's how:



Coaching Yourself: Technology and Tips to Keep Learning

After you’ve taken a workshop or engaged with a professional speaking coach, you may have improved a lot, but you will continue to fine-tune your skills as you apply them at work. Becoming a compelling presenter is a learn-by-doing process, and it’s never-ending. So it’s important to know how to be a good coach for yourself going forward. Fortunately, we have tools close at hand and we have some experience of what makes coaching effective. We just have to apply those to ourselves. Here are some ideas:



Breaking Through 'The Real Glass Ceiling': Executive Power Culture


For decades, people of all backgrounds have sought to break through what they consider a "glass ceiling" to live up to their full potential at work. Often referring to the struggle for highly qualified women to break through an invisible, unspoken barrier and achieve the highest echelon of executive leadership, the question is what gets in the way. 

There are multiple reasons that quality candidates aren't promoted when they should be. While this glass ceiling may be in response to socially held prejudices and misconceptions (relating to gender, race, sexuality, and background), the basic obstacle that stands in the way of the promotion of many to senior and executive positions is simply the culture of power that permeates the highest levels of business leadership.



Lean On Me: The Importance of Having a Sponsor When Presenting

You’ve been asked to present to upper management. You’ve done the research. You’ve worked hours to get everything to logically flow and the numbers to tie. When a subject matter expert is asked to present to decision makers, the hurdles can be a challenge. These spaces are typically "by invitation only," meaning that — regardless of how innovative your idea may be — you need someone on the inside to help steer the way. 

This is where a sponsor — another high-level decision maker who acts as your guide within these rooms — can be an invaluable asset. When making steps to put yourself in front of executives, business leaders, or other managers, a sponsor can be the difference between a cold, indifferent presentation environment and a warm room full of decision makers who are open to your ideas.



Tough Questions: Tips for Dealing with Difficult Audiences

If you are feeling apprehensive about public speaking or presenting, typically at the root of the anxiety is fear of embarrassing yourself. With careful preparation and focus on delivery, it can be easy to avoid embarrassment in a monologue style presentation. But what about when you open up the floor for questions and comments?

Audiences can be tricky: Even if they're your peers, co-workers, or experts in a certain field, everyone has their own agenda and emotional logic. By giving a presentation and soliciting feedback, you are inviting a variety of different personalities to listen and comment on your work. Audience member responses can range from boredom to outright hostility for reasons that may be unclear to you. To conquer a difficult audience, follow these tips:



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