Andrew Klein, director of Spike Presentations; a communications expert and presentation pro, explains why ‘telling not selling’ is integral to small business success.
About 10 years ago when Skype and video-conferencing technology really took off, I recall hearing doomsayers predicting the end of the conference industry. The commonly asked question was “Why would people gather inside one room to meet face-to-face when they can communicate through technology from the peace and tranquillity of their own office or even their homes”?
Yet the opposite has come to pass. While video conferencing has found its place in the business world, the desire for face-to-face presentations has only increased. The conference industry is booming.
I have a theory as to why this is so. It is because in a world of technology, social media and constant screen interaction we still have a basic human desire for old style authentic contact and connection with other people. In person, not via technology.
As a conference speaker and presentation skills trainer, I cannot overstate the impact that face to face presentations can have to connect and engage with ones’ customers or potential customers.
For owners of small businesses, there are of course a myriad of avenues to promote their products and services – advertising, social media, 1:1 meetings, exhibiting at relevant trade shows, to name a few. However, one avenue often overlooked by small business owners is the never-ending opportunity to deliver presentations to your target market. Many people shy away from these opportunities due to an aversion to public-speaking. You’ve all heard the stats that most people fear public-speaking over death! As a result, presenting for many people is avoided at all costs.
And yet there are few better ways to “sell” and spread the word about your business than to stand in front of a group of people, engaging a captive audience and deliver a presentation connected to your field of expertise. Fortunately, there are countless organisations and forums on the lookout for capable people willing to present to their members and stakeholders. Chambers of Commerce, local community groups, Trade Shows, business networking forums, industry association events and conferences, most of whom are on the lookout for new speakers.
If you are interested in speaking, ask around, check your local community websites, google conferences in your industry, check the local paper, ask your industry association. You would be surprised with how keen many of these groups are to find the right people willing to put their hands up and present at their events.
Importantly though, a speaking spot at one of these forums does not provide the opportunity for a small business owner to “sell” or spruik their business. The opportunity is for an expert or thought-leader in a specific field to present on a topic of interest to the audience. It is not an outlet for the business owner to pro-actively market their business. That is the indirect result of you delivering a presentation (provided you deliver a well thought-out, short, relevant, engaging presentation).
If your presentation goes well, the by-product will likely be that you are considered as a “go-to” person in that space; those listening to your presentation don’t just think “that was a good presentation” but they are left with the impression that if they need help in that area, then you are someone they consider contacting down the track. So, like most marketing initiatives, the impact of your presentation is not felt until a later point in time.
For example, a nutritionist could offer to present at their local school about “Making healthy school lunches” or a financial adviser could present at a Business Networking function on “10 Tips to manage your superannuation” – essentially a short presentation providing your expertise.
The by-product might be that attendees get to know you a little, develop some trust and see that you have clear expertise on that subject. Down the track, if an attendee needs the services of someone in your field (so you must be strategic in where you offer to speak and what you offer to talk about), then your “non-marketing” presentation may well yield a client, down the track. The presentation has sold you, without you actually selling.
Ask people who do these types of presentation on a regular basis and they’ll tell you why they continue to offer their time and expertise – because it works.
3 TOP TIPS FOR DELIVERING PRESENTATIONS
- Put your hand up. Seek out the right opportunities in your industry at forums attended by your target market. Let the right people know you are willing to present on topics in your chosen field. Market to them.
- Ditch endless words and bullet-points on PowerPoint. Better to show a few striking images with one or two words and base your presentation around some stories, anecdotes and case studies with learnings and key messages embedded in those.
- Keep presentations short and punchy with a handful of practical, take-home key messages. Tell them stuff, don’t sell them stuff.