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How to Be a Great Presenter

This is not about rehearsing. This is about a daily regimen to hone your presentation skills so that when the time comes for you to make a presentation, you are ready and comfortable.

Unless you are a hermit, you see people and chat with them every day. If it’s family stuff you might talk about plans for the evening, or ask one of the kids to take out the trash or clean their room. You might be negotiating with your spouse about some expenditure or weekend plan. If you are at work, perhaps you’re asking a staff member to handle a project in a certain way that’s different from how she’s been doing it, or you’re asking a colleague to join you in an effort to promote a new direction, or you’re trying to motivate the troops to get on board with a new sales initiative.

Every day in every way you are talking to people and trying to persuade them to see something your way, and then motivate them to take action and do it. A presentation is usually just a formal process of communicating to people to persuade them to see something your way and then motivate them to take action to do it.

Good presenters get good by having lots of practice. If you start looking at every encounter, like the ones above, as presentation opportunities, you will get a lot better faster. But, approach each of these encounters in a methodical way. Make sure your opening gets their attention and communicates what the benefit is for them to do as you ask. Get to the takeaway quickly and reinforce it throughout the conversation. Make sure the close summarizes the conversation and asks for a real action step.  Be very conscious of body language when you have these little presentations.  People are more likely to do as you suggest if you look confident about what it is you are discussing.  You’ll appear more confident if you have good posture, a strong voice, look people in their eyes when you speak, and have animated arm and hand movements.  Don’t forget to smile.

There are a half dozen occasions every day to make a presentation. Use each one as an occasion for you to become more successful in how you try to persuade people to see things your way. If there is a particular facet of presenting that you know you need help on, focus on that aspect in every one of these encounters. For example, if you are not facile at the final step of a presentation – asking for an action step – focus on that every time you meet with people.  You’ll find that over time you’ll get very strong and direct at asking people to take action.

Over time, it will become impossible for anyone to turn you down.  But, remember that with power comes responsibility.  It’s good to be persuasive.  And, it is also important to be a good listener.

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