Roxanne Glans, business presentation coach and events management specialist, has a very short answer to that question.
The longer answer is below in a detailed walk through of how business presentation coaching works.
In this exclusive interview for write-out-loud.com Roxanne shares the nitty-gritty essentials of business plan presentation.
Read and you'll find out the why, what and how of excellent business presentation skills and what business presentation coaching could do for you.
For the purposes of this interview Roxanne sets a scene.
The story begins with your senior manager/colleague/boss saying:
What follows are Roxanne's own words; her story, talking you step by step through the process of a typical business presentation coaching session
Picture her in your mind working with a client called Joe.
The Business Plan Presentation Trap
When you walk onto a stage or into a room, you have approximately 7 seconds to make your first impression and it goes either up or down from here. The choice is yours as to where you end up!
I have worked with colleagues presenting on stage to large groups on their tonality, content and physical movements, as well as making sure that what they are about to say is relevant to the audience at hand. I have also done business presentation coaching with company experts and sales staff; working together from preparing their material to how they will actually present it. Those 7 seconds count!
Many corporate enterprises have incredibly intelligent people, assets due to their level of expertise and knowledge; and yet it can all fall flat when they get stage fright or their material doesn’t back up what’s coming out of their mouths due to lack of preparation. Often they don't know who they are meeting with or how to get their message across. That's why business presentation coaching is essential!
A Typical Business Presentation
Now Joe is a world class expert in his field. His colleagues and the company’s customers all rely on his knowledge in the field of xx. So when Joe gets the call from the Key Account Director for customer YY he puts together his usual 150 slides on the subject with the thought that they‘ve always worked in the past.
Is this good enough?
It is absolutely essential that you take each and every situation as a new situation.
PACK in Business Presentations
Do not take PACK lightly. It’s not easy to do and demands a certain share of sit and think time to get it right.
But back to Joe. How does PACK apply to his presentation?
His Director has decided that this time they are going to something more than 'business as usual' and calls me in for business presentation coaching. I begin to slog through the mastodon presentation and realize that it is not up to standard.
I speak to Joe using the PACK principles.
1. Why he is doing this business plan presentation and what is the outcome expected? (Purpose)
2. Who will be in the room? Is it only customers from YY? Will it be just R & D folk or a blend of scientists and management? Who are the decision makers amongst them? (Audience)
3. How does he intend to show the new product/development? Will he need power point, films with sound or is there a need to show physical products? Taste, smell, touch – can we and do we want the customer to experience this? (Channel)
4. What key message will the customer take out of the room with him? How do you want him to remember what you have just said? (Key messages)
When Joe has answered the above, I’ll ask him together with his Director what their prior knowledge of the customer is.
Do they have previous installations with them or are we bidding on a first time opportunity?
When we have begun to get a better understanding of what the outcome of the meeting is going to be, we can then begin to structure the presentation material.
Most of what Joe has is totally irrelevant to what we really want to say to the customer, so my advice to Joe is to start at the end and rebuild his material from scratch.
Knowing what you want to say at the end of the presentation and the key message(s) involved, helps you know how to open your material – your lead in to the end message.
Once these two areas are established, then you can begin to work on the content and build up the structure of your presentation.
Structuring Business Presentation Material
The idea is that Joe can relax as he can talk about what he knows and loves best. Afterall this is his area of expertise! He doesn't need to panic about what’s coming up on the 144th slide.
The customer will appreciate the dynamic approach instead of falling asleep watching slide after boring slide!
Rehearsing a Business Presentation
(Yes, that’s right; rehearse, rehearse and rehearse it again! This is another essential step in my business presentation coaching.)
So Joe, how much time do you have? 20 minutes.
Now we set up a mock customer presentation covering everything from when Joe walks into the room, does his introductions and begins.
It’s no good to just start at the beginning of his first slide. The rehearsals must include the entire scenario; from entry into the room and how he introduces himself.
Is there the possibility to go around and shake hands with all in the room?
(This brings us back to knowing the audience and how many will be there.)
It includes where he will stand in the room.
Now Joe, how do you finish up?
Good transitions are essential and to ensure the presentation runs smoothly everyone must know the part they are to play.
Is giving a good business presentation like a movie or a play I hear Joe ask me?
Well yes, you could say that it is. We want to take the audience on a journey and to leave them feeling satisfied and excited about what happens next.
This is also a common mistake. You don’t want to look like you are going to a ball and nor do you want to look like you’ve slept in your clothes!
The decision on what to wear comes back to knowing your customer.
Have they just walked out of the workshop or dairy to meet you and are in overalls? Or are they all sitting in a board room in suit and tie?
You must dress accordingly and it’s not always easy to do!
My hint to Joe is to dress in a suit and tie and if they are all looking a little more relaxed and informal, then he can always take off his jacket and tie.
It’s easier to dress down than to dress up!
Final Business Presentation Coaching Tips
We have created a new presentation with only relevant slides; Joe has rehearsed with his colleagues, his family as well as me. He is feeling very confident and that’s a great way to walk into the room.
Now Joe has last minute questions. He says to me: "What if they ask me a question in the middle of my presentation?"
Well, that can be handled in a couple of ways.
Is the question pertinent to what you are talking about? If yes, you need to make a judgement call.
Sometimes there are folks in the meeting room who just like to be seen and heard and you, as the presenter, need to quite simply listen to the question, hear and acknowledge them.
Or you can say: “Thank you for that and I hear what you are saying. If you don’t mind, I’d like to park that question until later on so that I can answer it more fully”.
Next Joe asks me, “What if their mobile rings and they have to take the call?”.
That’s fine as it does occur and it's something that we sometimes must accept. Should this happen, then put the question to the room like this:
This is just an example of what you can say. Naturally every situation is different but there is no point in getting upset about what you have no control over.
Yes, it can be perceived as very rude if people walk in and out of the room and Joe is going to have to handle that in the best way he can without upsetting the customer.
Due to interruptions it is quite possible that your time is cut short and you need to have rehearsed how to handle that. So I tell Joe; know your material so well that if this happens, you can move forward to the end and give your key messages which are contained in the final three slides. You still finish up strongly and the customer will walk away remembering your closing as being relevant to the subject at hand.
Joe then asks:“How will I know if they are listening to me?”
That’s a great question! Often presenters talk in a monotonous tone without paying attention to what their audience is doing.
If you are presenting and you see that people begin opening their laptops and answering emails or fiddling with their mobile phones you really need to ask yourself WHY.
What’s the speed of your speech?
If you aren’t engaging your audience in what you are saying it’s going to be very obvious in how quickly they decide to switch off.
Joe asks me if he should leave his power point material behind. I have to ask the question WHY?
A powerpoint presentation contains your thoughts and words. They are only support to what you have to say and should not be left behind due to the very real possibility of misconstrued information being passed further into organisations.
Instead leave behind product leaflets or other sales material (including specially prepared power points) that are appropriate to what you are talking about.
If possible, directly after the meeting have a feedback/evaluation meeting with the team involved.
How did they perceive the presentation?
If there is negative feedback make sure it's given in a way that is constructive and that team members can learn from it.
When should Joe call the customer?
But if applicable, then Joe should call the customer after 2 days and within one minute after the initial social “how are you”, get straight to the point.
Tell them why you are calling and ask if there is anything that they would like to know regarding the presentation and if clarity is required on any points. If so, he is happy to either do so via email, phone etc.
If the answer is negative, then make sure you don’t hang on the phone waiting for it to change. Know when to end the call gracefully and you’ll be remembered in a positive light.
You know, standing in front a group of people can make anyone’s legs go to jelly and it takes practice and many hours of actually presenting to get that comfortable feeling in your backbone but when you get to the point that your stomach isn’t tied in knots and that it’s just another walk in the park, then it's time to do something else!
That nervousness is what’s keeping you sharp and ensuring that you put on the best show every single time.
And remember, there are business presentation coaches such as myself who quite simply get a buzz out of watching you grow and develop to become a more proficient and confident presenter whether it’s in front of the small group or on a large stage in front of a huge audience.
Many thanks to Roxanne for sharing her expertise!
A reminder of where you can find her for business presentation coaching:
If you're not in her area and would like to explore the possibility of working with her, ask her about traveling. She loves it and holds dual Australian and Swedish passports.