Are You an Effective Presenter? Connect with Your Audience

Are You an Effective Presenter? Connect with Your Audience, Not with Your PowerPoint



Tom Woodcock

Many contractors look for the opportunity to present to potential customers. They strive to get lunch and learns, happy hour presentations or morning coffees. When they finally attain the meeting, panic sets in as they realize they have to have a presentation that fits the customer type they’re approaching. The usual response is to focus on a PowerPoint and how much information they can drive into the customer’s head in the short amount of time allotted. The issue is that the focus shifts to the presentation. In reality, there are many other factors that will determine whether the core message is received or rejected.

The point many people miss when they are determining what they’re going to present is that connecting with the presenter is just as important as delivering the information. Trust is the number-one buying motive, and we tend to trust people before we receive the information they’re disseminating. The person doing the presenting needs to establish a level of trust right out of the gate. Putting as much time into accomplishing this as well as your PowerPoint presentation is crucial. As a matter of fact, your PowerPoint should be minimal and image-heavy. No one wants to “read” a live presentation. You may be wondering how this connection and trust is established when many times you’re only given a brief segment of the meeting to present. Here is some insight.

First, prepare by managing the environment. If it is a meeting such as a lunch and learn, elements such as food, furniture and audio/visual can affect the mood of the event. If you’re supplying food or refreshments, go top drawer. Cutting corners to save $50 to $100 immediately tells the attendees you don’t value their time. I cannot stand the cheap box lunch mentality. It’s just lazy. Also, forgetting an assortment of drinks, utensils and napkins is borderline inconsiderate. Gaining the “wow” factor right away with the food selection begins to move the clients to your side.

Second, greet everyone upon arrival as opposed to standing off to the side waiting to begin. Get names and roles while thanking them for taking time out of their busy schedules for you. This is the beginning of establishing personal trust. Also, recognize the individual who set the meeting up for you and restate your appreciation.

Next up, be there early enough to make sure there are no A/V issues. There’s nothing worse than starting a presentation and your remote doesn’t work or the projector isn’t reading your laptop. This can delay the presentation and cause unneeded stress for both you and the attendees.

Now we’re moving into the actual presentation. Before you dive into your meaty presentation, tell the audience a little about yourself – how you came into this career, your family’s support and why you chose the company you’re about to present. This will personalize you and make it more enticing to hear what you have to say. Then let them know you have knowledge of their business and market approach. People love to hear about themselves. Let them know you educated yourself on who they are and what they do.

Now the meat. Tailor the message as closely to their business as possible. If it’s a new innovation or service they haven’t used before, be sure to outline the benefit in their usage of that product or service. Make sure your points are clear and concise. Stories and metaphors need to be used to reinforce the message. People love a good story, especially if they can relate to it. So many people focus too much on pounding their information through. A reason for this is the fact that public speaking is now the number-one fear in the USA, more than death.

You’ll always be nervous regardless of your presentation experience level. But as you accomplish more and more presentations, you’ll learn how to calm those nerves. Close the meeting by thanking the audience again for taking so much time out of their day. Offer to answer any questions then close the presentation with a next course of action. Be sure to walk the room and let people ask questions in a non-group setting. Thank the individual who booked you once again and offer to send a recap. You’ll leave as a trusted expert and potentially a viable option.

Tom Woodcock, president of seal the deal, is a speaker and trainer for the construction industry nationwide. He can be reached via or (314) 775-9217.