“Can we meet to learn more about your company and its services?” This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for—one-on-one time with a prospective client. But those words can be a double-edged sword if the thought of giving a presentation fills you with dread.
Important presentations are intimidating. Whether it’s an informal lunch appointment or a boardroom presentation, you’ve got a lot riding on what you say and how you say it.
Here are some critical skills to rely upon and remember:
Make a great first impression. In the first seven seconds of your meeting, your prospect is sizing you up. While you’re focused on the content of your presentation, they’re figuring out whether you’re the kind of person they can trust and want to work with. Come prepared and polished.
Be prepared. You not only have to be prepared about what you’re going to say, you need to research your audience. Remember that knowledge is power!
Practice. You should always practice your presentation a number of times before you ever deliver it to your intended audience.
Prepare a visual presentation. A PowerPoint presentation keeps you in control, and it will remind you of your key points. It’s also a helpful tool when deciding what you want and need to say.
Get to the point. Be very clear about your key points and get to them. Tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, deliver the content and wrap up by telling them what you told them.
Have answers prepared. Anticipate as many possible questions and have clear concise answers prepared. That way, you won’t be flustered and will respond while maintaining composure.
Discuss and schedule a follow-up. Don’t leave a meeting without a clear statement of what will happen next. If you need input from your audience, ask for it, but know that they may be looking to you for leadership. Outline some rough next steps and deadlines ahead of time to maintain momentum and give the process a sense of closure.
It can be nerve-wracking any time you’re trying to sell yourself and your organization. However, with some preparation, you can be less stressed, more confident and ready to put your best foot forward.