Great orators are born, and not made.

While that is true to a large extent, it is still possible for a person with average oratory skills to polish them, so that he is able to better persuade people. Great oratory and the power to move audiences is simply a matter of using the right presentation skills. When you look back in history at some of the most prominent personalities of the last century, like Churchill and Dr. Martin Luther King, you notice a common thread running through both – the deep power of persuasion. In their own way, these two men were able to rouse extreme passions in their listeners and invoke change with their words.

The most articulate speech accompanied by sophisticated visuals and slides can be all for naught if the entire oratory is not presented in a manner that tickles the curiosity of the listener, hooks his sense of intrigue, and finally, draws him in to produce an action. Effective presentation skills must include a well-executed series of steps that are designed to help the listener understand why he should listen to you, what benefits are in it for him if he follows your suggestions and how he can begin taking the actions that will produce these benefits.

If you look at the simplest and most effective advertisements on television, you will notice that they follow a strikingly similar theme.

  • There is a problem.
  • The product can help them solve the problem.
  • Solving the problem starts with some action.

Take another real world example of presentation skills that follows this formula and uses it to convince a group of likely cynical listeners that what you have to sell is immediately worth buying. A lawyer making the case for his client won’t begin by appealing to the jury to acquit his client. Instead, he builds up his case slowly and deliberately, laying out exactly how he plans to prove that his client is innocent. He verbalizes his conviction that the jury will have enough proof of his client’s innocence when he’s done with his arguments. Similarly, delivering the perfect presentation requires complete confidence in what you are selling as well as confidence in your ability to convince listeners of the product.

There is no single right way to deliver a picture perfect presentation. Your modus operandi will have to be modified depending the product you are selling and your target audience. For instance, delivering a presentation to a group of homemakers at a Tupperware party will clearly be different from a presentation to hardened executives in a boardroom. Even so, there are several similarities between the two audiences.

Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your presentation skills.

Use visual aids. Bullet point slides are simple to put together, but boring to read and leave a minimal impression on the minds of the audience. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of a presentation doubles when you use visuals. Most information that the human mind can retain is visual in nature. In comparison, vocal and textual information tends to get filtered out rapidly.

Avoid giving information-heavy presentations. This is a common mistake that most sales professionals make. Delivering a presentation speech that is full of data and statistics, can make you seem like a knowledgeable expert who can be trusted on the subject. However, this kind of heavy information needs to be dispensed effectively, otherwise, there is a risk that the audience will be overwhelmed with information overload, and will lose interest in what you have to say. Statistics are good. In fact, they are an excellent way to back up what you have to say when you combine them with visual presentation slides, and cloak them in language that appeals to listeners. For instance, it’s a fact that people relate to dollar amounts or specific numbers more favorably than they do to statistical percentages. Back up your evidence of profits that you have been able to bring about at other companies with cold hard dollar values, and you will see your audience’s interest noticeably perked.

Make use of light humor and jokes to make your point. Even if you have millions of dollars worth of business at stake, you will lose your audience if you insist on being overly serious during your presentation.

It isn’t enough to quote statistics that you have managed to accomplish for others. People aren’t interested in what you can do or have done for others. They are only interested in what you can do for them. This may seem like a minor point, but it’s one of the foundations of delivering a great presentation. Of course, this means that you may have to make a commitment to helping listeners achieve the same kind of results that you have helped others accomplish. This is the time you prove your confidence in your own product. A born sales professional with excellent presentation skills knows that being convinced about the product he is selling is a big part of persuading others of the quality of the product too.

Born orators may be able to deliver an impromptu presentation, but others will need plenty of rehearsal to polish their presentation skills. Rehearse your presentation in front of your family, co-workers, friends, and even your boss. Rehearsing in front of a variety of people will give you several viewpoints on the effectiveness of your presentation. Remember to scale your presentation according to the amount of time you have to deliver it. Better still, video tape your presentation rehearsal, and make notes of little gestures, tone inflections and other aspects of your presentation that could be enhanced.

Learning great presentation skills requires a great deal of commitment and an open mind. A person who has been schooled in a rigid way of delivering a presentation may find it hard to make changes to his behavior. To truly enhance your presentation skills you must be open to criticism, willing to change and effectively implement improvements to your delivery and style. With a little effort and focus you can improve the quality of your presentations and gain more product sales as a result.

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