speaking to customers

10 Presentation Trends for 2014

In 2014 presentation skills will reign supreme. Leaders and entrepreneurs will need to be more visible across different media platforms. Speaking is the new competitive advantage and the bar has been raised. Here are the trends in presentations that I predict for 2014.

  1. Broadcasting skills - Whether you're an entrepreneur or employed by a company, expect to have your 15 minutes of fame.Today's presenters need broadcasting skills. Media training will become a vital success skill even for those who do not speak to the press. I'm currently coaching a client to lead quarterly webcasts. Five years ago this senior executive wasn't doing any broadcasting. This client has since been filmed for executive promotional videos. Video presentations will increase in popularity. I use eyejot.com to send quick video emails. Videos can be very effective or very detrimental if you have weak presentation skills.
  2. Mobile presentations - Mobil technology is exploding and the number of apps is growing. This will require adjustments in the way we communicate. Slide shows and websites must be adjusted for mobile devices.The key word in presentations is portability. On a personal note, I now videotape my coaching clients on the ipad. The quality is as good as a video camera and it's easier to transport.
  3. Increased Need for Speaker Training - The need for excellent presentation skills will increase.due to the competitive nature of the market. Products and services can quickly become commodities and in order to be persuasive, presenters will need to know how to capture and hold the ear of the listeners.
  4. Self marketing presentations - Personal branding will become even more important. In a crowded market place where good jobs are at a premium. Job candidates will have to master marketing and selling. That means understanding what makes them unique and how to position themselves, their message, and their value with clarity and impact. Lack of confidence will be the deal breaker. Speakmarketing will be a growing factor for small business success. Presently, I'm coaching  small businesses to develop webinars to grow their businesses.
  5. Storytelling - Telling stories will no longer be the domain for the talented few. Leaders will be challenged to learn the art of storytelling to develop trust, express their vision and to lead their teams. And storytelling skills will be the differentiater in the job interview.Certain companies such as Pepsico, have a culture of storytelling. The best interviewers will invest in public speaking coaching to learn to tell their story instead of presenting their resume.
  6. Authenticity - Audiences are more sophisticated and less tolerant than ever. They want to know who the speaker is as a person.Do they walk their talk? Audiences will value  presenters who are real versus a just-the-facts approach. I was asked to coach somebody who had a well-crafted PowerPoint deck but delivered it like a talking head. Listeners are thinking "Who are you?"
  7. Increased Audience Interaction - The key word is connection. In a society where there is less time for socializing and more stress, people want to have an experience and participate with the speaker. Watch for increased live polling, tweeting, live streaming,and audience participation. Technology will level the playing field as speakers can now use inexpensive polling software on their mobile devices.There will also be an increase in virtual presentations. I'm coaching more clients remotely due to technology tools.
  8. Less Fluff More Value - Motivational speakers will always be popular as long as the human soul craves uplifting messages. But today's presenters need more than a string of 'feel good" stories. They must be able to provide value, tips, strategies, action steps, a different way of thinking along with those stories. Audiences are more demanding.
  9. Shorter Keynote Speeches - The 18 minute TED-like talk will become more commonplace. This is already happening at conferences. Instead of the one to three hour breakout sessions, event planners and audiences are opting for a series of shorter talks.
  10. Continuity - The old transactional model of giving a one hour presentation and then return to business as usual,  will give way to the idea of continuity.The message will continue after the event or meeting with additional contact and add-on resources. Despite the fact that younger audiences are leaving facebook, social media will continue to be an important communication channel for staying connected. However, people will consider the return on their time and become more focused and narrow in their social media communication.

All of these trends can be summarized in one idea: Public speaking is more important than ever. The need for excellent presentation skills is not going away. It will only increase in 2014 and beyond. Just as with technology upgrades,presenters will upgrade their public speaking skills or risk becoming obsolete.

Adrian Miller Speaks About Growing Your Business

Adrian Miller rocked the audience this morning when she gave a knockout presentation entitled 4 1/2 Ways To Grow Your Business. As a public speaker Adrian was dynamic, pragmatic, and drove home her message with humor. Her tips for increasing sales were appropriate for public speaking and giving presentations. Her 4 1/2 tips included:

1. Be Different 2. Stay on the Grid 3.Qualify 4.Probe 4 1/2. Quantify everything

So how does this relate to presentations? Speakers who are different are memorable. But being memorable isn't enough. You must stay on the grid. Speakers can stay front of mind by sharing ideas and information that add value to their customers and audience. It's important to qualify the audience by conducting a listener profile. The more you know about the audience the more effective the presentation will be. This involves the use of probing skills prior to the presentation. But masterful presenters probe the audience during the presentation by taking a quick poll to create engagement. Finally, be sure to survey the audience so you can quantify results. You may have a good feeling about your speech but don't rely on gut feelings. To measure your speaking performance it's better to compile audience comments and a numerical rating scale.That kind of process will give any public speaker real time data that can be quantified.

So why did Adrian give 4 /12 tips? To be different! Weren't you curious about the 1/2 tip? What have you done as a presenter to differentiate yourself from other public speakers?





Are You Overshadowed in Meetings?

Renee was a young associate for a marketing research company; it was her first job. She was smart but soft-spoken. Renee's manager frequently interrupted and dominated meetings, and wouldn't allow Renee to lead a meeting in her absence...

Coffee, Tea, Don't Bother Me

I'm about to hit a triple header with this blog post. Hopefully, this will be my last post about airlines. On the first leg of my journey from Newark airport to Hilton Head, South Carolina,  the pilot announced that we would be arriving late. Knowing I had a tight connection in Charlotte I was concerned that I could miss my next flight. It would board in thirty minutes and the plane  I was on was a one hour flight.

I approached the flight attendant in the back.  I showed her my ticket and made a request. "Would you announce that the connecting passengers will deplane first?"

She looked at my ticket and said, "It doesn't leave for an hour. You'll be fine."

"But the pilot said we'd be late," I countered.  I had heard other airlines make this kind of announcement in the past.

"Oh they wouldn't listen, " she volleyed back. I persisted and finally she admitted that they were not authorized to make the announcement. "That would have to come from the lead attendant. We could ask her but that doesn't mean she would do it."

To make a long story short, they didn't make the announcement. I doubt that she approached the lead attendant. The good news is once we were in the air, the pilot announced that we would be arriving early.  Even so, I now  had a negative impression of these flight attendants and the airline.  They couldn't be bothered with my needs even though I was a customer.

Whether you speak to one or one thousand, your audience is your customer. What kind of message are you sending them? When they ask a question, you don't say "I don't know." You say, "I don't know. Let me get back to you."  When your audience is physically uncomfortable, you take a moment and adjust the thermostat. If you're talking to scientists you don't give your typical sales pitch. You provide them with the data and studies they value and respect.  When you sense the audience is bored, you don't keep yammering on.  You check in, ask questions, start a discussion or take a break. If a layoff was just announced before your presentation, you don't do your happy dance. You acknowledge the elephant in the room, let them vent for a few minutes and then begin your talk.

As presenters, we are all in the business of serving customers.  We set the tone. When you come from a place of service you communicate that you care.  Take care of your audience and they will take care of you.

What Presenters Can Learn Not to Do from the Airlines

The other day I was on my way to Hilton Head South Carolina. I boarded the airline which was on time. I sat back in my seat awaiting the usual safety drill. The attendant ended the announcement with "This is a no smoking no complaining flight. If you complain you'll be the entertainment - outside gone with the wind."

There was some knee jerk laughter and then the message set in. Ouch! The real message was "Don't mess with us. We're not putting up with nonsense." Not exactly warm and welcoming.

What kind of tone do you set when you begin your presentation? Do people feel that you're glad to be there? Humor is a great ice-breaker when used appropriately. But when used to couch a threat the atmosphere can quickly turn negative.

By all means let the audience know your expectations and use humor to engage and drive home the learning points. Otherwise, your message could end up blowing in the wind.

Even Dry Cleaners Give Business Presentations

This morning I dropped by the dry cleaners to pick up my clothing. As I handed her the ticket, she gave me my dry cleaning and then asked me a question. "Do you send out your husbands shirts?" "No," I told her. "He's retired. He doesn't wear shirts." She smiled as she explained in her accented English, "Oh I was just trying to..." I supplied the word she was searching for. "Upsell?" "Yes," she said. "Well my husband only wears golf shirts. But very good marketing. If we ever have a wedding to go to I'll bring in his shirt." We both had a good laugh.

But the laugh is really on business owners who don't see an opportunity and follow up. This woman realized that a presentation doesn't end when there is an exchange of money. The presentation lives on as you continue the dialog.

Even the post office now asks if you want stamps, mailers, or other supplies. The way you approach a customer is a presentation-from the greeting and smile, to the conversational interaction, to the thank you, to the upsell. Just like any presentation there is a beginning, middle and an end.

Unfortunately, not everybody gets beyond the first presentation.

Did BP's Chairman Diss the American People?

Carl-Henric Svanberg, Swedish Chair of BP was blasted for his comment about "small people".Here is what he said:

..."He's frustrated because he cares about the small people and we care about the small people. "I hear comments sometime that large oil companies or greedy companies that don't care but that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people."

Had this been said by an American it would have been condescending;however, Mr. Svanberg is Swedish. English is a second language. He was referring to President Obama's frustration about the impact on the people in the Gulf area and he was saying that he shares his frustration and concern for the people.

When it comes to communication, there is a sender and a receiver, an intention and an effect. My belief is that Mr. Svanberg's intention was to show concern for the common man and to convey that they are sorry for the oil spill and it's impact.

The effect was to trigger emotion and a feeling that he was talking down to the citizens. Two words-"small people"caused this reaction. And that is the power of language. Language and culture don't always translate. When the Chevy Nova was introduced in Mexico it didn't sell. NOVA in Spanish translated into" No Go".

It would have been more effective if the Chairman had used the terms, American people, people in the gulf region, or the workers. When listening to words we also need to listen for intention. And when somebody is speaking a foreign language, understand that there will be miscommunication.


Shame On Nike

After seeing the Nike commercial of Tiger Woods several times I started thinking about the impact on you- the audience and what that means for your presentations. The pundits loved the ad. They thought it was a piece of brilliant advertising. I did not! Am I alone in this opinion? Here's how that ad impacted me. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NTRvlrP2NU]

I thought it was manipulative, contrived,and downright creepy to hear the voice of Earl Woods from the grave. It was manipulative and contrived because Tiger became a willing actor in the ad. He stood in front of the camera and made a remorseful face. It wasn't authentic. It also seemed humiliating. Once again, we don't see the real person; just an image of what Nike thinks Tiger needs to project. Nike wants to keep his endorsement without alienating the public. So they used his father to chastise him as if to say, Nike doesn't approve of his behavior. People see through this.

What was more effective for me was the Jimmy Kimmel spoof of the ad. It made me laugh out loud and it delivered the same message- Tiger's behavior was not okay.


When speakers act instead of relating;when presenters speak from a script instead of from their hearts, they lose their authenticity. And that's when they lose their audience. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and go on. If you're not perfect, so what? When we try to "get over" on our audience we're insulting them. People see through phoniness.

Be real, Be sincere, Be you.

The Biggest Mistake in Sales Presentations

So what do you think is the biggest mistake in sales presentations?

  • Selling features instead of benefits?
  • Talking too much and not listening?
  • Not knowing the product?

In a recent presentation, Ron Karr, of Karr Associates, Inc. and author of Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way, asked the audience, "What are you selling?" People responded by calling out their products and services. Ron went on to say that one of the biggest mistakes in sales is selling the "how" instead of the "what". "You're selling outcomes", declared Ron. He challenged the audience to get clear about the outcomes their audience or clients receive from them. The outcome he presents to his audience is to "sell more in less time." He went on to explain, "Most people spend 70% of their time talking about what they do when they should be spending 60% of their time in first impressions and qualifying.

As with all presentations, it first begins with mindset. How do you think of yourself in relation to your audience? Are you an expert? A peer? A trusted adviser? Ron recommended that people begin to position themselves as a resource. Selling is self-focused but a resource is customer-focused.

Whether you're selling a product, or giving a status update, good presenters live by WIIFM-What's in it for me? They know that the audience cares only about one thing-their own self interests. In other words, it's all about outcomes.


Presentations That Lose Business. What Was Google Thinking?

Good presenters get better jobs, receive promotions, make more sales and get more business. They also build a strong brand reputation. Consider Steve Jobs of Apple.He uses the platform to launch his new products to an audience that's engaged, excited, and eager to hear his message.

Now consider the launch of Google's new Nexus 1 phone. Here was an opportunity to create buzz for the new technology with their presentation. Instead of opportunity, the company became the target of much ridicule. Why? Because of their presentation. It takes seven seconds or less to make a first impression and the visual impact was immediately negative. The presenter used an overhead projector. Why would anyone use an outdated way of presenting when they are touting the newest technology? This was a disconnect for the audience. In addition, the presenter appeared nervous and dispassionate.

When launching a new product, companies must choose the best presenters. Speakers who are confident, dynamic, and passionate sell products. The impact of the presentation was negative. News shows mocked the presentation and this affected the brand reputation.

Whether you're launching a product, seeking funding, or pitching business your communication must be congruent. And be sure to put your very best presenter forward!