As a professional you’ve worked hard to position yourself as a subject matter expert. You’ve uncovered opportunities to author articles or whitepapers, you’ve gotten interviewed or quoted in the trade press and you’ve been able to get some wonderful speaking engagements.
So, now that you’ve done the hard part and gotten the opportunity to get in front of your ideal target prospects, what comes next? I hope the answer you formulated in your head was something about knocking it out of the ballpark and gaining new clients.
Let’s back up and look at how not to knock it out of the park, how not to create a favorable impression. Speaking and presenting opportunities are fantastic ways to reach your prospects and/or referral sources but there are some sure-fire things you definitely want to keep in mind as you prepare to deliver the presentation. I’ve outlined 7 things to remember as you get ready to step into the spotlight.
- Practice, practice, practice – no matter how great you are or how wonderful your services are, if you get in front of the audience unprepared you will flop. You should practice your presentation in front of the mirror at night, in front of your spouse and definitely in front of your co-workers so that you get to the point that you can deliver it in your sleep. Nothing’s worse than sitting through a bad presentation full of stumbles or having the presenter lose his or her way.
- Be sensitive to the time you’re given – along with being able to present in your sleep, please make sure that if you’re given 30 minutes to present that your presentation lasts 25 minutes so that you have 5 minutes for questions. Nothing might leave more of a negative impression on your presentation than going over on time.
- Make sure the slides are readable from the back of the room – need I really say more on this? If the audience can’t read the slide, you’ve lost their attention (and respect) before you even started.
- Make sure the slides are clean and uncluttered – just as important as making sure the slides are readable from the back of the room is making sure that there’s enough white space on them so that they are easier on the eyes. Many people make the mistake of thinking the more info I put on the slide the more helpful it is to my audience. Wrong. Don’t fall into this trap.
- Make sure you provide takeaway copies of the presentation – the audience will not remember 100% of what you present. That’s why giving them a copy of the presentation is a good idea that will help build that relationship and give them a reference point long after the presentation.
- Make sure you provide multiple ways to contact you – along with a takeaway from the presentation, make sure that somewhere in the slides you give your audience a way to contact you. You know, email address, phone number, website URL. How are they going to contact you, the presenter, if they have questions or have a need for their service? I think you get the picture.
- Brand each and every slide – this is a great way to build that awareness of the firm in the prospect’s mind. Not only should you have a title slide with your name, firm name, firm logo and contact info, you should have the firm name or logo on all of the slides.
Presenting at conferences and other opportunities is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and that of your firm. You really want to make sure that those in the audience come away with a favorable impression of you as a subject matter expert and of your firm. Delivering a well-prepared and thought-out presentation will reflect positively on you and the firm. Likewise, delivering a bad or mediocre presentation will have a substantially more negative effect.