Presentation Etiquette – Do You Have an “I” Problem?

Prospecting with a Seminar The presentation gives you the opportunity that you need to secure prospects and customers.  The presentation can envelop customers and clients and hold them firmly while you show value and solutions. The most important aspect of this is your recognition of who this presentation is for…. the attendee. Let’s take a look at some ways that you can fulfill your etiquette responsibilities.  Whether you have a solid presentation or not, everyone notices the things you do wrong from an etiquette standpoint.

An ‘I’ Problem

Years ago I was in a presentation for financial products as a potential customer. The seminar/sales presentation was entitled “Retirement Moves You Should Make Now! It took place at a local hotel, and there were three speakers.  Each of them was noted as an expert in the field of retirement products, strategies, and investments. The three of them spoke for approximately 15 minutes each, and it was evident to me that they were all experts in their subject matter as they had been billed.  I quickly learned that two of them were ‘experts’ on themselves and felt it necessary to tell us over and over.  The other was a great speaker. It got a little sickening hearing them talk about all of the people that they ‘saved’ and how they were preeminent and what others did that could not compare.

They also did some other rather annoying things.  There were presentation slides with little wording and  numerous presentations featuring cartoons. One of the presenters dined on a piece of hard candy during his whole talk and could not keep it quietly in his mouth. I considered this actual presentation rude and a waste of time given the fact that I was supposed to be there to hear how their products and strategies could help me be able to have a happy and fulfilling retirement. What did they do wrong?  Based on the title of the seminar (and the fact that I understood that it was sales related.  The problem lies in that I just got a basic ‘bait and switch’.  The did not tell me how I could retire well, unless the answer to that is just to turn it all over to their operation.

What Are the Rules?

Here are some things that I am going to suggest that will help you as simple guide to the most vexing etiquette issues:

  • Write or display your name prominently
  • Establish eye contact
  • Be Prepared
  • Never waste a customer’s time
  • Dress “up” at least one level
  • Speak clearly and with intent
  • Do not read slides or copy to your audience
  • Get rid of the ‘uhs’, ‘ums’, and ‘you knows’
  • No candy or gum
  • Mind your time
  • Take questions with a smile

Above all, remember that the presentation is not for you, but for the audience.  The quickest way to lose the audience is to forget this important point.

Write your name prominently – Always include contact information.  Some people are hesitant to ask questions as they forget the name of the presenter or do not know how to contact him/her.

Establish eye contact – Then you will want to keep it.  If you are going to read or focus on your slides then send it to everyone in an email.

Be Prepared – Prepare and practice, then make sure that you have prepared for the presentation and the things that go wrong such as overhead projector bulbs, media that does not work, and compatibility issues with others equipment.  Your audience deserves better.  Have paper copies ready.

Never waste a customer’s or prospect’stime – Avoid useless material, cartoons, and novelties.  Realize that the fewest slides and the most meaningful content is what you need, and what your customers deserve.

Dress ‘Up” a level – Presenters should be properly dressed, which means that they should be dressed that when every one else is casual, a tie should be the mode of dress.  Your appearance is important.

Speak clearly – No one is going to ask you more than once to repeat yourself.  They will just tune you out and begin to doodle.  Speak clearly and with intent for all to hear.

Do not read slides – The rudest action of all is to read slides or text to your audience. You might as well send the content to them and let them be read it for themselves.

Get rid of the ‘Ums’, ‘Ahs’, ‘like’, and ‘you knows’- nothing, I repeat nothing drives an audience mad like the chorus of these three phrases.

Lose the candy or gum – This one is easily self -explanatory.

Manage Your Time – Proper breaks and adherence to the schedule is in your audience best interest, and remember, “It is all about the audience”.  If you need to, assign someone in the front row to help you manage time.

Always leave time for questions – Did I forget to advise that, “It is all about the audience?” Advise them of the format for questions and honor it. Leave ample time for questions.

Have Your ‘I’ Checked

As I spoke of in the practical example, the last thing you want to have is an “I” problem.  That is of course when you start talking about yourself and don’t know when to stop.  If you are selling a product or service it cannot be about you.  You will alienate many, and not sell anything. Tell your qualifications and credentials quickly, and then deal with what you are there to do.  Keep it short, and give a link to a bio if they want to get assurance that you are the real deal.

Remember, the best presenter is the one who gives the audience what they need.

Be the best.

Your comments are welcome.

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