Presentation Skills and the Art of Persuasion

by REP04 Jun 2014
If you want to make a compelling case to a client or business associate and persuade them to do what you’re asking, it’s vital to hone your communication skills and use them to support your case. Cindy Tonkin offers seven essential strategies for making a world-class professional presentation.

You probably spend a large chunk of your life getting others to do things for you: persuading your boss to give you time off; influencing your spouse to spend time with you; convincing the kids to go to bed.
But right now we are talking about major deals. You have to stand at the front of the room, take a deep breath, and make such a compelling case that they can’t say no. Here’s how you can do this:
1. Take a breath
First off, it is important to start breathing.

When you’re nervous you can hold your breath. This makes your brain stop thinking. It triggers a fear response in the brain: you retreat into defensiveness. You just want to run away or punch someone. So breathe.

Practice deep breaths right down into your belly as you rehearse your presentation. Unclench your fists. Move your elbows away from your rib cage. If you find it hard to breathe, here’s a tip: speak lower and slower and your breath will slow down.
2. Prepare the words
Begin as you mean to end—calmly. Prepare the first two sentences. Practice them until they sound natural and normal. Then the rest will flow. You should also prepare the rest of the presentation, of course!
3. Use images and props
If you stand up and use visual aids, your audience is more likely to be onside. And, according to research, they will spend 26 per cent more on your product. Examples of visual aids include posters, photographs, PowerPoint images or actual props. If your audience tends to fiddle with pens or rubber bands or phones, give each person a prop; it will keep them focused as they listen. And if the prop promotes your business, that’s even better.
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