Whether you are running a training seminar or presenting in front of clients, communication is KEY!
Some people have a natural gift of effective communication; for others it can be learned. In my last article I talked about how important our image is and how it can influence people’s perception of us.
There are 3 key components of image, lets call them A, B and C:-
- Body Language
- Communication Style
These are important whether we are talking to one client or a group of clients.
I recently attended a presentation where a reputable business man was doing a presentation on social media tips. As time was limited he clearly felt it best to rush through the slides and talk very quickly. At the end of the session I felt I hadn’t learnt anything valuable about Twitter or LinkedIn and didn’t manage to get anything written down in my notebook due to him skipping onto the next slide! I thought he had missed an opportunity to share “quality” and “value” in his knowledge and skills, as well as the possibility of gaining some clients and further business. I don’t know what the outcome for him was, or whether he has reflected and learnt from this experience himself. What I do know is I want to avoid this happening to me.
With this in mind I have put together some tips which I trust will be helpful.
What do you need to think about before a presentation or seminar?
Appearance – You are your message!
If you have a large audience it is a bit like theatre. You are performing and you need to think about the impact of your ‘costume’. Your best red will project confidence and make you feel more confident, even if your heart is pumping!
As business women, whether we like it or not, our credibility is based on what we wear. Consider what attire is appropriate for the audience and the occasion.
A jacket is a great equalizer; if you feel over-dressed you can take it off, however a if you need a more professional look, keep in on. If you are wearing a jacket or trousers with pockets make sure your pockets are empty so there are no unsightly bulges.
I suggest you keep your jacket buttoned up, to avoid others focusing on your midriff, it looks tidier and more professional.
Avoid fussy jewellery, anything that is too bright, dangling or makes a noise is distracting for your audience.
Wear stronger make up than normal.
To make yourself appear taller stick to one colour from head to toe; as wearing block colours makes you appear smaller and cuts your body in half.
I may be stating the obvious, however, I have seen this happen – underwear faux-pars! If you are wearing a light colour top/blouse avoid a dark bra underneath. I would always suggest going for skin tone underwear, so if a fraction of the bra is showing it is not distracting for your audience. In selecting colours for your hosiery aim not to contrast with your outfit, but to tone in with your skirt, dress, trousers and shoes. For example if you are wearing a navy skirt and navy shoes, beige tights stand out and break up your look; go for a sheer navy or blue-grey.
Who are your audience?
Make sure your content is appropriate and flexible. I remember going to teach at an Adult Education Centre and prepared for a class of 10 adults. However, on arrival I found out these adults had either severe learning difficulties or physical disabilities, so I had to “wing it” and change how I presented some of the content. There’s an example of unclear communication from the Manager!!
Always go prepared with paper hand-outs in case the IT equipment lets you down.
Have a structure to your content, for example:-
- Get their attention with a story, visual or question.
- Let audience know what’s in it for them.
- Let them know where you’re going with your talk
- Try to keep to THREE key points; as people only retain so much in their short-term memory.
- Summarise what you have told them. It is OK to repeat 2 or three times what you have told them through your message.
- Bring it to a close in an impactful, memorable way i.e. like a call to action and maybe offer a discount on your services or products.
Choice of Words
Effective communicators use simple and easily understood words and phrases. As much as possible keep it jargon free. Using appropriate humour to break the ice gets the audience on your side. Sharing personal stories is a great way to build rapport.
Positive Body Language
Wearing a SMILE is the most important!
Your body language has 38% impact on your audience, whilst image has 55%.
If you wear a single breasted jacket whilst presenting it makes you appear more approachable. Use open body language, regular eye contact and be a good listener to any questions that are put to you.
The image of your voice
Does your voice enable you to create impact? Your voice is worth about 40% of the impact you make, whilst what you are saying only 7%.
To succeed in business it comes down to how you sell your message and ideas. A good voice enhances your power of persuasion and keeps your audience captivated.
If you are unsure about the impact of your voice, ask a colleague, friend or better still a voice coach.
Learn to adapt your communication style to your target audience
Do you consider different communication styles?
You will communicate in your own style and will instantly build rapport and connect with those who communicate similarly. For instance, I am an enthusing style, so have high emotion, I buy concepts, I enjoy new ideas, cutting edge and experimenting/playing.
However, if I am talking to a client or some one in the audience or at a networking event, that is, for instance an Analysing style; I need to communicate in their style, e.g. this style talks slowly, needs time to consider what I’m offering, likes statistics and proven track records. If you are unfamiliar with different communication styles, you can start by mirroring their use of words and body language.
As you are aware, people buy people and if you can understand and build rapport with your clients they are more likely to choose your services and products.
Wishing you successful and effective communicating!