Want to know a secret? One of the critical skills needed for gaining recognition in your chosen field is the ability to communicate clearly. You may be among the best and the brightest, cross all your t’s, dot all your i’s and get to work on time, but if you are not able to present your ideas to others in a clear concise manner, along with some enthusiasm and passion, most likely you will get lost in the pack. This is true for just about anyone who wants to get ahead – whether in sales or not.
Think about the last opportunity you had to present your ideas – whether in front of a group or 1-on-1:
- Was your delivery organized?
- Were you engaging?
- Did your audience understand how listening to you was going to benefit them?
- Were you credible? Was there personal knowledge or experience to back up what you were saying?
- Did they leave with something that benefited Them?
Let’s breakdown some of the ideas above so you get a good idea of what needs to happen so your chances of success go up.
Gain clarity around the message(s) you want to get across. This takes some mental elbow grease so work on this in advance (not in the elevator going up to your client’s floor). What are the three main points or ideas you want them to leave with? When they think about your presentation later what will stick with them as unique or different about your service or product? Boil all this down in your mind and write the three main points down. Tip: Don’t open up PowerPoint and start putting your presentation together. This leads presenters to create too many slides, which causes sleeping sickness in your audience. Clarity around your ideas will keep you visuals pithy and smart.
2) Engaging Your Audience
How you kick off your presentation has a lot to do with engaging your audience. People make a decision within about 10 seconds on whether you have earned the right to speak on your topic. There are specific ways to engage them right off the bat – ask a simple question that leads to interactivity or take a quick poll. Open body language, a smile on your face and energy draws them in. Tip: Lecture is dead and lose the lectern.
3) How Does it Benefit Them?
Show them, near the beginning of your presentation, how your presentation is relevant to them. Tell them the benefits of listening to you. For example, when I talk about my model for introducing yourself I say:
"The model I'm about to tell you about will assist you in gaining credibility, save you time when preparing and will help you engage your audience." Right away, they understand how listening to what I am saying will benefit them. Tip: It’s all about them.
Book knowledge is great but will only get you so far. Personal knowledge goes a long way as proof that you know what you are talking about. Consider adding a story that illustrates a point. An example of this may be how another client experienced your product or service – what pain were they in before and how your service or product solved their concern. Tip: Don’t wing it, practice.
Need some ways to practice before the stakes are high?
Now, with all of these suggestions you want to get your “sea legs” before the big day. Here are a few ways to gain more skills, both formally and informally. Consider using some of these ideas and then practice. Practice a lot - even at work!
- Ask to take the lead on a group project
- Offer to share responsibility for facilitating team meetings
- Give the next report for your team
- Next time there is a new employee at your workplace offer to introduce her/him around the office.
I recently read an article on the Top 10 Most Valued Job Skills – guess what was number two? Yes, communication skills. It came right after enthusiastic/positive attitude. This is a skill that can be learned. Being a good communicator will help you find a job, keep a job or gain recognition – maybe even get a promotion.