The Five P’s of Effective Business Communication and Presentations

Getting ready to a presentation? Review these tips to make it your best ever!

The 5 P’s are: Purpose, Preparation, Planning, Practice and Performance.

The first “P” is Purpose:

� Before giving a presentation, going on a sales call, hosting a customer event, or having a staff meeting, ask yourself:

o What is my desired outcome?
o What is the impact I want to create?
o How do I want the customers or my team to feel during and after this encounter? (Use adjectives such as: moved, passionate, excited, shaken, sold.)

� How does your purpose for this event/presentation/project relate to your vision?

o You need to be able to articulate your purpose and then share that with your audience in order to create a shared purpose.
o This is the part where everyone gets on the same page.

The second “P” is Preparation:

âÂ?¢ Get as much information about your audience or customer as you can-do the research to know who you’re dealing with.

âÂ?¢ Know your material cold. If you’re not sure what you’re going to say, not sure of the facts about your subject, you won’t be able to answer questions from the audience. You will be unprepared and it will show.

Whether giving a presentation, welcoming attendees at a client event, or leading a meeting, preparation is critical to your success. The more you prepare, the better you can successfully improvise. A one-hour presentation that needs to be shortened to 20 minutes at the last minute will not throw you if you’re familiar with the material. Time spent at the beginning is a worthwhile investment.

The third “P” is Planning:

� Planning is designing how you are going to achieve your desired outcomes and impact. The more you plan, the clearer your thoughts, the clearer your purpose and the more freedom you have to be spontaneous and flexible.

âÂ?¢ When working with a customer or team member, know the key message you want to convey and what you want to accomplish. Plan what you are going to use to illustrate or reinforce the idea or concept to leave your client with a “picture.”

âÂ?¢ The key idea must be relevant to your listeners or your customers and emphasize what’s in it for them, and why they will be better off by knowing this information.

� Plan ahead and know your key metrics for success. For example, is it closing the deal by the end of the call, is it buy-in from your team. How will you measure your success?

We find planning is most successful when we work collaboratively, in a partnership with our clients. We never plan in a vacuum. When we design a day to work with a team, we create options and clearly understand the outcomes that the customer wants to achieve.

The fourth “P” is Practice:

Whether you are an athlete, a dancer, or a presenter, the art of practice is critical. Professional performers know that how they perform in practice will be similar to their performance when the game is on the line. And in business, the game is always on the line.

It is in practice that we learn the value of our teammates’ individual skills and how to synchronize our collective efforts; we learn what it takes to win. When the game is real whether in sports or business-the effort you’ve invested in practice truly pays off. It is then that you build the confidence that is so key to a winning performance.

In the business environment, we’ll often hear someone say, “We don’t have the time to practice.” But just as any successful athlete will practice the plays he or she will use in the game, so you should practice the strategy and tactics you plan to use with your next audience. Practice is the chance for your team members to get on the same page, to build on each other’s strengths, and to begin firing on all cylinders. Here’s where you learn what it takes to win. Here are two ways to practice your performance:

âÂ?¢ Many a champion athlete recognizes the value of visualization. Here’s why: it’s another chance to practice your best performance. Go through the entire presentation in your mind. See the audience respond to your humor, to the points you are making, nodding in agreement, and applauding when you have finished. This will give you an experience of success that will allow you to engage the audience with self- assurance.

� Practice your presentation in front of another person and ask for specific feedback so that you can learn which areas were most effective, which moved too slowly, and which points you need to clarify. It is here you can actively design what will work, freeing you up to deliver the performance you were meant to give.

The fifth and final “P” is Performance:

The moment of truth. This is where it all comes together. Performance is the culmination of all your efforts. If you started out with a clearly defined objective, did your homework, planned for questions, and visualized your success, then this is where you shine. It’s also the step in which your audience is directly involved. Take a moment to measure your objective. If your goal was to provide information, is your audience engaged? If your goal was to identify a solution, are the members of your audience reaching consensus?

If you haven’t met your objective, chances are it’s not your audience’s fault. So here’s a learning opportunity: after the performance, evaluate each step to determine where you could improve next time.

A few tips for successful performance:

âÂ?¢ Whether your audience is large or small, don’t start speaking until you have everyone’s attention. Once you do, take a few deep breaths and begin. This simple action creates a powerful moment, focusing attention on your message.

� Keep a soft focus on your audience. Make brief eye contact with each person in the room if possible. This gets their attention and keeps them connected to you.

� Project your voice to the person farthest from you. The volume and tone of your voice keeps your audience alert.

� Be aware of your body language and make sure it enhances, rather than hinders, your message (this is why practice is so important).

� Above all, be yourself! Your audience can sense your honesty and will be more attuned to you when you are comfortable with yourself and your message.

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