May 31

3 Surprisingly Simple Presentation Hacks.  (Hint: One involves duct tape…)


There are many things that can derail your presentation. Some, like a faulty structure or poor delivery, require an investment of thought and time to change. The following however are surprisingly simple presentation hacks you can make right now to address three common problems occurring in sales presentations which can distract your audience and significantly reduce your chance of success.

3 Surprisingly Simple Presentation Hacks:

Presentation Hack #1

Check out the picture above.  The presenter is smiling, facing the audience, appears to be engaged.  But you probably also observed that he is standing in the projector light. Now you may be thinking, “big deal,”but here’s the thing:  whatever critical point the presenter may be making, most of the audience will miss as their attention is focused on the slide elements running across the presenter’s shirt, arm, and face. Don’t’ blame the audience as they can’t help it: There is an area of the brain called the Limbic System which is drawn to distractions like this.  As a presenter, you could certainly try to remember to avoid the projector light, but the reality is that you have many things to pay attention to when presenting and this is probably not the top thing on your mind. So here’s hack #1:

Hack #1:  Always carry duct tapeDuct tape for presentations

Get to your space early (if you can), turn the projector on and walk the stage, noting where the light starts to hit you on each side. Pull out your duct tape and take a small piece and mark the edges of the light on the floor.  This serves as a quick visual reminder to avoid standing in this area. Don’t worry if you have to cross it, just do so quickly and near the projector to limit distractions.

Tip: Can’t get in early? Use a pointer or stay to the side of the screen.

Presentation Hack #2

Asking your audience a question and being greeted with nothing but silence or blank stares is every presenter’s nightmare.  Not only does it feel awful, but interaction is key to the success of your presentation.  Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get audiences who are used to passively watching a presentation – especially a web presentation – to get involved.  What can you do?

Hack #2: Get a plant

No, not that kind of a plant.  Identify someone in your audience before your presentation (could be a sponsor or an early bird) and enlist their help.  Tell them the question or activity you have planned and ask them to jump in and provide the first response.  Most people are glad to help and often all it takes is one person to break the ice to encourage others to participate.

Presentation Hack #3

Here’s a situation you may be familiar with:  The invite to your web presentation said 9:00, now it’s 9:02 and everyone’s arrived – with the exception of the key decision-maker.  So do you make everyone else wait and engage in awkward small talk until he joins, or do you go ahead and start, risking the decision-maker misses a key point or set up? No pressure, but how you handle this will affect the first impression your audience forms of you (read how those first few seconds can influence the outcome of your presentation.) How can you avoid frustrating on-time audience members without penalizing latecomers by missing your opening?

Hack #3: Make a false start

Save your “hard opening” for when the decision-maker arrives, but have a false opening that leads your audience into the topic, and gets them engaged without revealing your big “hook.” A prepared poll or a story is  a great way to do this — just make sure that it ultimately ties into your topic, but is not mandatory to someone’s understanding of your key message. The second opening is your real opening, reserved for when everyone is in attendance. This way you can start both on-timers and latecomers on the same page.

Bonus Hack #3.5:

The decision maker can’t make it?  Record the presentation so you can send it to him or her as a follow-up.

When you don’t have a ton of time, these surprisingly simple presentation hacks can make a profound difference.  Sales Presentations for Dummies - by Julie Hansen

Featured photo courtesy of Flickr:  Jesper Rønn-Jensen : Lukew presenting



Openings, presentation hacks, questions, web presentations

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