Winning The Big Pitch - The 7 Deadly Sins Of Business Presentations And How To Avoid Them!

Are poor presentations costing you business?

The ability to deliver a presentation to potential investors or clients is an essential skill for any budding entrepreneur, sales professional or consultant.

Whether it's a '15-second elevator pitch' or a more extensive presentation, winning over and persuading audiences is vital in today's competitive capital raising and sales environment.

Learning the art of making powerful and persuasive presentations in any business situation and you will win more work.

My premise is every start-up entrepreneur, seasoned business operator or consultant can win more business by being a better presenter.

Here are the Seven Deadly Sins of Business Presentations and How to Avoid Them.

1. Not Having a Clear Goal.

It is essential to know what the objective or end outcome of your presentation is. Is it to raise funds, educate and inform, build relationships, to sell or build credibility?

2. No Structure.

This is an absolute must for any presenter - at the very least have a beginning, middle and end. You may be the best presenter in the world with outstanding delivery skills but poor structure will lead to a poor presentation.

3. Not Connecting with Your Audience.

Building empathy and rapport with your audience is critical. Connect with them on three levels - head, heart and hip-pocket.

4. A Poor Beginning.

First impressions always matter. If you have to raise $8 million in 8 minutes, make every word count. I learnt this tip from attending Patricia Fripp's speaking school recently and I think its brilliant. For business presentations she says avoid using 'Thanks, its great to be here' as your opener. She rightly points out you've just wasted 10 seconds. At a million dollars a minute that equates to nearly $167,000!

5. Too Much Content.

The cardinal sin of all business and technical presenters. In my media career, I estimate I have attended more than 300 conferences, events and seminars. That's 1500 hours worth of presentations I've had to sit through and the most common mistake I've seen is presenters rush and overload the audience with too much content. Remember, presentations rely on the spoken word and the visual - use the written word and a handout to provide more detail.

6. The Presenter's 'I's' Are Too Close Together.

We all like to talk about ourselves. As a radio manager, I spent hours listening to and providing feedback to broadcasters. Those that really connected with their audience talked with them rather than at them. I observed they used the word 'you' a lot more than the word 'I'. This led to the saying that with some presenters their 'I's' were too close together! Here's another great tip I learnt from Fripp. Record your presentation and have it transcribed. Every time you see the word 'I', cross it out and replace it with 'you'. She calls this working on your 'I-You Ratio'.

7. Poor Closer. Again it is beginning and the end that is the most important part of any presentation. With your closer - what is the key message or action you want the audience to take away with them as they walk out the door? In business presentations the closer is often the 'call to action'. When I heard Bill Clinton speak at a Fundraising event for sick children, his closer was 'I want you to help'. Simple, direct and effective.

Here's another tip I learnt from Fripp. If you want to take questions, take them before your closer, because ending on question time is a poor and weak way to end a presentation. Worse still, you are unlikely to be able to control the last question. Take questions for a set period before the end, wrap that section up and then end with a strong closer. I've already tried this on several audiences and it works a treat!

Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries. You can subscribe by visiting http://www.8mmedia.com Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar or event. Visit Tom's blog at http://www.8mmedia.blogspot.com

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