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We already did a practical deep dive into how to deliver an effective presentation. That blog focuses on getting prepared, from knowing the times, what equipment you might need, tips on what to avoid and much more. Here’s the lowdown on what not to do when presenting at a networking meeting.
You’re up next on the presentation rotation schedule at your weekly networking meeting, so let’s take a look at some things to avoid.
How does this make you feel?
Excited? Filled with dread, panic stations all round, nauseous or full of vim and vigour, with a ‘bring it on attitude’?
Let’s be honest. For most of us, it’s some where on the spectrum of uneasy, so I wanted to break it down and give some practical tips on what not to present at a networking meeting.
A Little Known Secret
In the next blog, we will look at what to present at a networking meeting. But before I even do that, let me let you into a little secret.
There is something that a lot of people miss and don’t seem to understand. Having ten minutes or twenty minutes of someone’s undivided attention is a privilege.
And yet most people come unprepared, disinterested, unfocussed and are just dying to get through the presentation as quickly as possible and hope that it will be a long time before they are on the presentation schedule again.
How often do you hear?
– I just threw a few slides together.
– Apologies, I was up last night and didn’t catch the typos.
– Sorry, I didn’t have time to fine tune my presentation.
But what you are really saying is: ‘I literally poured a lot of content onto a powerpoint presentation to share with you today. I hope you’re strapped in and ready to go as I’m about to bore the socks off you. I only had two, three, four weeks notice, but sure not to worry, you’ll get the gist of it!
Ultimately, I didn’t think you were important enough to spend time developing a presentation, so this will just have to do.’
And then you’ll come to the end.
And you’ll have an ask, for a referral, a testimonial, to be followed on social media or a lead…and, and, and…you’ll give out if people in the group don’t oblige!
Well let me tell you something, it’s time to look closer to home!
Getting a lead, testimonial, referral is the highest compliment another business owner can give you. It isn’t a right or an entitlement. It is earned.
Let me walk you further through my logic.
If you come unprepared, blustering through a presentation, is this the way you are with your clients? By inference, I will think that you are and I’m not going to recommend you in to other companies and clients, as it will reflect badly on me.
So are you ready to earn your stripes?
I’d like to change this focus and get my fellow networking community thinking about presentations a little differently.
- I want to encourage a community of people who look forward to their presentation slots.
- I want to encourage a community of business owners and entrepreneurs to pounce at other opportunities to present to other groups in their network, to find presentation opportunities in other networks or simply to get back on the rotation schedule.
- I want to encourage a group of savvy business people who are ready to ask ‘when can I present again?’.
Would you agree that a more desired outcome would be one of a calm, cool, collected and professional presentation? A presentation that generates applause and a round of questions? I think so.
Safe Spaces & Diversity
Here’s a different way of looking at the presention opportunity. Don’t forget that when you are in that room presenting to this captive audience, you are in a safe space. You are with a group of people who is getting to know you and your business.
Don’t forget that the people sitting around the table probably know very little, if anything, about your business, so don’t take anything for granted. The diversity of the networking group is where the opportunity lies to see if a wide ranging group of people understand what you do. Do they ‘get it’?
The question could be the foundation of a new blog post for your website, or a new set of social media posts. Don’t ever look at questions as a bad thing. Look for the highlight and the opportunity in them. Always ask yourself, what can be learned.
What Presenting is Not
Let’s face it, we are bombarded with so much information each day. Our brain is constantly filtering what we absorb. It’s an information super highway out there.
If you imagine everything you do, every product or service you offer to clients, as the super highway – a bit like the image that I have chosen to represent this blog post – think about how are you going to make your company, and you, stand out above the crowd. This is how you should be looking at the presentation content.
And as I said, it’s a privilege to have the time to present to your audience, so keep this in mind and respect their time and engagement.
To do otherwise, is disrespectful and quite frankly, it’s disingenuous.
Let’s look at what presenting shouldn’t be about:
- It is not about delivering deadly dull pitches.
- It is not about telling the audience and everyone in the room everything about your company.
- It’s not about delivering the same presentation that you delivered last time.
- It’s not about death by powerpoint and jargon overload.
- It’s not about divulging a lot of ‘so what’ moments.
- It’s not about trying to prove how intelligent you are with the use of acronyms and language that isn’t easily understood. If you spot an acronym, be safe rather than sorry and just get rid of it.
What’s a ‘so what’ moment, I hear you ask?
It’s when you tell me where your business is based and your address. Honestly, I don’t care, so don’t tell me unless it’s vital to what you are saying.
How long you are in business. Again, not that interesting really and you are using up valuable airtime.
Who founded the business? Again, not necessarily relevant to the presentation.
So what’s my point?
Stop using irrelevant information to fill gaps and use up time, that could be better spent engaging your audience and helping them become part of your extended sales force.
Spend the time teaching the group. Spend time helping them understand what makes you different and why your clients engage with you. Spend time telling them ‘your why’.
Each time you present, they want to learn something new. If you are not willing to prepare a presentation to engage them, why should they spend time, effort and energy looking for business to help you. You evidently don’t care enough…or do you?
In the next installment, we’ll look at what to present in a networking meeting.
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