Please a Crowd

By Malcolm Fleschner

When you present to a group of buyers, you want to captivate everyone’s attention, excite them about your product or service, impress them with your in-depth knowledge and compel them to give you the business. Following are some of veteran sales trainer Bob Frare’s critical tips for presenting to groups, adapted from his book Partner Selling: A Dynamic Selling System For the 21st Century (Partner Selling Group, 1999).

1. Have a clear purpose
At the conclusion of your presentation, what exactly do you want to accomplish? Do you want to inform, entertain, initiate a specific action, train, what? Know this before you go in.

2. Know what you’re getting into
How big is the room you’ll be presenting in? How many people will be there? What’s happening before you go on? What’s happening after? Try to get in a little early to set the room up to your liking, so that you will be most comfortable.

3. Cool as a cucumber
Be yourself. Don’t affect gestures or speaking tones that don’t come naturally. Try to speak conversationally, and let the presentation flow out of you.

4. Get a visual
Visual aids make presentations much more interesting. For groups of less than 25, consider a flip chart. For large groups, you might use overheads, slides or a multimedia display. A couple rules of thumb: whatever visual aids you use, don’t stand in their way, and make sure people don’t have to strain to see them.

5. Hit the stage running
Get that presentation going quickly, and keep a steady pace throughout. Poor presenters start slowly, and then the audience is lost for good. Grab their attention early and keep it with a crisp pace, solid eye contact and a conversational tone.

6. Handouts available upon exit
If you provide reading material during the presentation, you invite people to distraction. Don’t compete with your own materials. Give participants written information to take with them when they leave.

7. Wrap it up
A good presentation always has a concise conclusion that leaves no doubt that the presentation is over. Find an effective way to accomplish this.

8. Cue up the Q&A
Figure out whether you want to answer questions during the presentation or afterward, then let people know. To get the Q&A session going, plant someone in the audience to ask an initial question. This will break the ice and make others more comfortable about raising their hands.