Preparing for a Business Speech

Wednesday, October 09 at 09:25 AM
Category: Business Banking

Making a speech in front of customers and prospects can be a great opportunity. It enables you to position yourself as an expert in your field which improves your reputation with customers and establishes your credibility with prospects. However, delivering the right speech in the most effective manner requires some planning and effort.

Know Your Audience
Spend some time before the presentation learning about your audience and identify what their interests may be. Try to speak with some of the audience members before the presentation, and then include some reference to that discussion in your speech. This demonstrates how well you understand their needs and positions you to offer expert advice.

Tailor Your Presentation
Make sure your presentation is relevant to the audience. If the group includes executive level decision makers (not implementers), then covering extensive details may lose them. For that type of higher-level listener, it is important to appear credible and knowledgeable about the topic. You may want to include a "trends in the industry" section in your remarks. Decision makers are always interested in what is new and what the competition is doing.

Don’t be afraid to use notes. Even the president uses notes when he delivers his State of the Union speech. Consider using bulleted notes instead of having your speech completely written out. This will probably make the speech delivery more natural. If giving speeches is new to you, then consider having your first couple of sentences completely written out and then using bullet points for the rest of your speech. That way, you are sure of starting the speech the way you want.

Use Visuals and Handouts
The effectiveness of your presentation can be greatly enhanced by using images to help make your points. The use of presentation software, like PowerPoint, has made it possible to incorporate quality visuals in speeches. You can create text and graphic images relatively easily.

Be sure your visuals are relevant and clearly demonstrate your point. For example, if you are talking about trends, a colorful graph will make a more lasting impression than just reporting the numbers. If you are using text images, keep them readable. A few bulleted points on the screen are more effective than a full screen of text.

It is also good to have some handouts for the audience. Copies of your slide presentation with room to write notes will encourage the listener to follow along and reflect on how your topic may affect them. Be sure to include your name and contact information on handouts.

Be Comfortable Making the Presentation
If at all possible, visit the podium before the speech and test the audio/visual equipment you will be using. The podium should be about breastbone height so the audience will be able to clearly see your face. Be sure there is enough light to read your notes. And ask for a glass of water to be kept on the podium in case your throat becomes dry.

Make eye contact with the audience when you are making the presentation and don’t avoid questions. In fact you may want to ask a question at the beginning of your presentation to involve your audience and get a better understanding of their interests. Ask for a show of hands on some questions.

Two Final Thoughts
First, make sure your presentation is organized. It should have a beginning, middle and end. Remember the saying — tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them. Second, practice your presentation. The more comfortable you are giving the speech, the more effective it will be.

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking
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