Dressing for success
When making a professional presentation, keep in mind that you are representing your company. If you have a professional service, you should wear business attire, even if the meeting is in the evening. If you work in a labor industry, a uniform can be appropriate, or even casual but clean work clothes.
Women have to be especially careful to avoid overtly sexy clothes that detract from your seriousness as a business person.
The clothes should fit the industry. For example, if you are a personal trainer, stylish gym wear can be considered appropriate. The look has to match your image.
Walk up to the podium with a firm, brisk step, keep your head up and make eye contact with several members of the audience. Remember they don’t know that you’re nervous, unless your mannerisms tip them off.
Practice your presentation. Memorize what you will say so you don’t have to read from a piece of paper. Practice the presentation in a mirror to see what you look like, practicing what you will do with your hands, your gestures and facial expressions.
Remember that the more often you give the presentation, the more comfortable you’ll be. Ask people to help you practice, whether it be your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your neighbors or anyone else who will listen!
What you say
Keep it geared for a general audience. Don’t overuse technical language, and explain the terminology you do use. Make sure they know the basics about your company.
Of course, you should start with your name, the company name and perhaps a motto that explains exactly what you do. With 10 minutes you can get away with perhaps a two-minute background story on how the company started, and how you chose your name.
Next, take a couple of minutes to list the benefits of your product or service, emphasizing the advantages for the customer. Put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself, what can this company offer to me?Leave them with one concrete idea of why your company is the best at what you do. Let them know what you can do for them, from their point of view.
If you are a member of a network, perhaps you can offer the membership a discounted rate for a product or service purchased within the week to encourage sales.
Make your phone number and other contact information easily available. Invite your audience to meet you personally after your presentation.
Include the time for your question and answer period into your presentation, don’t add it afterward. The host of the meeting will appreciate your keeping their time frame in mind.
Speak up! With an aging population, keep in mind your audience may not be able to hear you. If they can’t hear you, they won’t remember anything about your business, except that they were irritated by you, for some vague reason.
Go to the People
Afterward, meet the crowd in person. Take the time to get to know people, even if briefly.
It is critical to keep your hand firm, not stiff or limp. Shake with energy, but don’t crush their hand. Shake twice and let go. Only initiate further contact (double hand for more warmth, hand on arm or elbow), if you are personally comfortable with more physical contact.
Cultural Differences regarding personal contact
Know whom you’re speaking to, if they are from a culture that discourages close personal contact with in the business arena, respect that and do not overdo it on the first meeting.
Have a 10 minute and a 30 second “soft pitch” ready at the drop of a hat. Always carry business cards. Have a sample of the product in your car, if possible.
If you greet and meet people, once the meeting is over, make brief notes on their business cards to remind yourself of the date and meeting place or event. Jot down a brief physical description of the person and any personal information they may mention.
Within three business days, email or call them to thank them for the meeting. Ask them more about their business and ask what type of clients they would like referred to them.