Polishing Your Act

Lessen your terror of presentations with these tips.
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This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

If just the idea of making a presentation makes you break out in a cold sweat, think of it simply as a verbal business card that enables you to more effectively communicate with your clients and better market your business. Good communication skills are important because whether your presentation takes place at the kitchen table or in your client's conference room, you still want to come across as self-assured, according to Darlene Price and John Messerschmitt, co-founders of Well Said, an Atlanta firm specializing in presentation skills training.

"Whether you're an architect or a craft supplier, it's really crucial to develop a message you can confidently and quickly get across to potential clients," says Price. "Try to think of your message as a commercial that people you meet briefly-say, in a cab line-can take away with them like a business card."

In general, if you remember Price's three Ds and four Ps, you'll make an effective presentation. The three Ds, which you determine prior to client meetings, are:

  • Defining your audience. Who is this person and what does he or she want?
  • Defining your objective. What do I want this person to come away with after our meeting?
  • Defining your business's benefits. What are the three things I have that this person needs?

The four Ps, determined during face-to-face meetings, are these:

  • Profit. How does my product or service boost this person's bottom line?
  • Pleasure. How does my business increase the comfort or enjoyment of this client's life?
  • Power. How does my business make this person more powerful in his or her own marketplace?
  • Prestige. How does my product or service speak to the exclusivity of my client's business?

While using the Ps and Ds as a guide, don't ignore about your greatest tool when making a presentation: you. As Price says, "The most important thing to remember is that your own personality and style will be more effective than any formula or script."

Julia Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in business and marketing. She can be reached at juliam129@aol.com.

Edition: July 2017

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