How can you
guarantee you get top results in your next high-stakes presentation? Learn the
5 lethal mistakes that will send your clients and prospects running from the
For years, professionals and subject matter experts have relied on their organizations for presentation skills training. But these days with training budgets slashed, the new motto is: Do more with less. This doesn’t help professionals learn new skills that are critical for getting ahead.
While many of my clients opt for online presentation skills training for affordable, quality skill development, you may not be so lucky. Since you are reading this article and serious about improving your skills, here are the 5 lethal mistakes.
Hint: take notes. The sooner you correct these troubling problems, the faster you’ll win results.
1. Never Prepare
You’d think that professionals would know better. But, hold on there. Haven’t you ever thought:
• I know this so well…I could do it in my sleep.
•I already have the slides.
If you’ve ever been tempted to not prepare, not rehearse, and not get ready until the night before, you are in danger. You may have come to your senses before. But the risk is there. You could fall prey to this kind of thinking that begs procrastinating.
Recently I coached a gentleman who should have known better. His exact words: “I don’t like to prepare. I prefer to ‘get in the zone’ of creativity.” Not being prepared is not the same as creativity.
What’s the best thing to do before performances? Rehearse. Prepare. Practice. It might look spontaneous, but great presentations are the result of rigorous practice.
2. Never Ask Questions
Know any presenters who don’t like to ask questions? I bet you’re nodding your head, yes.
Many experts, sales professionals, and advisors prefer not to ask questions. Questions are risky. You don’t know exactly what people will ask. You don’t know precisely how you will answer.
While it is true that questions carry an element of risk, not asking questions is much riskier. By avoiding questions, you signal to the group that you don’t care, aren’t capable or aren’t willing to engage. These are not positive characteristics.
If you hate asking questions, get better at it. Hint: it is a skill that can be learned. Most people are not born with the ability to handle questions with poise. They had to learn how…and you can too.
3. Never Listen To Answers
Strange, but true. There are presenters who ask questions…but don’t listen to answers. These are often people who are subject matter experts, technical geniuses, or brilliant in their field.
Not listening to answers sends a bad message. It can be interpreted as impatience, arrogance, or disrespect. By not listening, you are not showing your brilliance. You are showing that you’ve missed the opportunity for dialogue.
Ever see the road signs: stopping is part of driving? Well, listening is part of presenting. It is a skill that can and must be learned, if you’re serious about being successful. Anything less will kill conversation, destroy dialogue and doom your presentations to be one-directional data dumps.
4. Talk Down To Clients
As smart as you are…talking down to clients is bad for business. In many organizations, professionals and especially sales professionals appear to talk down to clients.
You may not intend to. You may strive not to. But it still happens. Often it is because you’re very versed in your content and expertise. You know your message and power stories down to the ‘t.’ But your client is just seeing your presentation and hearing the value of your recommendation for the first time.
Presenting is a good time to have an open conversation. Get feedback from an objective expert to find out if you are unwittingly coming across as arrogant.
5. Race Out Of The Room
After a terrific presentation, this is the worst thing you can do—fly out of the room. Even if you have to cut across town to avoid traffic. Even if you have a flight to catch. Even if…anything. Don’t race out.
The best way around this is to plan your schedule with more spaciousness. Organize your time and allow extra time for one-on-one connections with clients
and prospects. Rather than being ‘wasted’ time, this kind of informal conversation is where decisions are made.
Build your business presentation skills fast. Avoid these 5 lethal mistakes and you’ll be on the fast track towards winning results.