Preparation, key data points, and thoughtful questions are key in every training session, meeting, or sales conversation.

Whether you’re a leader in your organization, a salesperson, or a frontline team member, exceptional public speaking abilities can drive your career and business forward. Team trainings, sales presentations, and investor meetings can be improved by following these simple practices.

Read on for the top ten tips for more persuasive presentations.

No. 1: Know your stuff.

It should come as no surprise that one of the most important aspects of getting others to buy-in is to know what you’re talking about. Preparing for a presentation, training, or meeting is absolutely essential.

Sure, you know everything there is to know about your birthday parties, but if you haven’t thought about how to outline the packages or what objections might come up, you risk losing credibility in the moment trying to think of what to say on the fly.

Prepare in advance by reviewing the key points of your products and services and their differences. For example, make a list of sales objections and their answers. Research your competitors’ sites and experiences, so you have an idea of your competitive advantage.

No. 2: Get the facts straight.

Part of knowing your stuff is compiling relevant information, both anecdotal and fact-based. Be prepared with data to support your claims to add to your credibility. People have different learning and buying styles, so you can appeal to a wider audience by compiling different information types.

For example, when delivering a frontline training session on upselling, take the time to prepare point-of-sale reports for data points like Team Member (Cashier) Sales, Best Sellers by Category, and Best Sellers by Division. Or, hop over to CenterEdge Business Intelligence and gain sales and profitability insights from your Sales and Employee Dashboards.

No. 3: You’ve got to believe.

There’s nothing more persuasive than conviction. Check-in with yourself to confirm that you believe in the integrity of what you’re discussing.

And remember to believe in yourself. If you’ve done your homework and prepared for your conversation, you are the subject matter expert. Try to relax and have fun with the conversation, knowing that at the core, you’re doing great work: offering exceptional entertainment experiences to families in your community.

No.4: Connect with your audience.

Try to find common ground with your audience. If you’re meeting with potential investors, consider what kind of information and outcome they’re looking for in their meeting with you. Do a bit of research to find other similar projects they’ve taken on or be prepared with questions to help them share more about the type of partner they’ll be. By getting to know your audience, you gain critical insights into what working with them might look like, how they communicate, and whether you’re a good fit for each other.

No. 5: Keep it timely.

Relevant stories and anecdotes can help illustrate your points and connect with your audience. For example, at the recent IAAPA FEC Summit in Nashville, keynote speaker Verne Harnish brought relevant stories from the facility tour to the City Forum the previous night. While Mr. Harnish has probably delivered his presentation many times, he flawlessly illustrated his points with new and unique stories our audience could relate to. That’s what separates the good from the great. 

No. 6: Practice until you feel good.

If you’re giving a presentation on stage or preparing for a new sales conversation, practice. Then practice some more. Practice until you feel comfortable and confident about presenting. Don’t practice too much, though, or you risk becoming detached.

A couple of years ago, I attended a David Copperfield show in Las Vegas. While the illusions were outstanding, it was obvious that the star had become detached from the “story” of the show. This caused him to rush through his script and sound completely disingenuous. While doing this in a magic show isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it could very well be the type of behavior that causes your team or sales prospect to tune out.

No. 7: Know your elevator pitch.

If you only have three minutes to get your point across, would you be able to do it?

Take a look at the content you’re going to present and see if you can cut the number of words in half and still deliver the same impact.

Write out and practice a concise synopsis of your main point so you know you’ll be able to communicate your idea or point. In writing, this is called your thesis statement, and it’s a critical skill for presenting any type of persuasive content.

Once you know exactly what you’re trying to convey, it becomes easier to flesh out your subject matter into a cohesive argument or presentation.

No. 8: Try not to fear.

Easier said than done, to be sure, but try to remember that the people in the audience want you to succeed. If you’re prepared, communicate clearly, and care about your topic, the rest will fall into place. And remember, even if you make a mistake, you have everything you need to overcome it during the conversation or even the next time. You’ve got this.

No. 9: Ask the right questions.

Raise your hand if you like being talked at! Anyone? Anyone? Try to engage your audience and check in with them throughout your presentation or discussion. In sales, it obviously means that you need to gain insights into:

  • What exactly they need or wish to buy?
  • Who is the decision maker?
  • When are they going to make a decision?
  • What is their budget?
  • What’s most important to them in this buying decision (a.k.a. hot buttons)?

In training sessions, the right questions help them discover answers to the problems or subject matter points themselves so they can feel more connected to the content rather than just hearing you present all the points. As an example, some great questions to ask throughout a guest service training session might include:

  1. What do you think our guests hope for when they visit our facility? (looking for ways to have fun, to relax, to celebrate something special, etc.)
  2. How do we help our guests have fun? (we smile at them, invite them to try laser tag, ask them if they’re interested in a membership to visit more often and save money, etc.)
  3. When guests are upset or demanding, what could be the reason? (Looking for more than just “because they’re mean Karens” to help them understand that we have a role to play in preventing negative guest interactions).

No. 10: Leave them with something to think about.

How you finish a training or conversation could be even more important than what happens in the middle. Make sure that you leave your audience with something to think about. In training, this could be to ask comprehension and buy-in questions with such questions as, “how will this change how you greet guests as they enter?” “How important do you think your position is for our guests and our team after what we’ve talked about?” And so on.

The end of your presentation could and should also be to establish next steps. Perhaps you want to thank them for choosing your business for their group event. It could be to confirm the next meeting or follow up conversation with a date and time. Or it could be to confirm that everyone understands what they’ve been assigned. At the end of every conversation, it’s important to know what you – and your audience – is supposed to do with the information presented.

With just a slight shift in focus to prepare for your next presentation or meeting, you can find more success faster than ever. Good luck! You’re doing great!

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