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Hone Your Sales Presentation Skills

Tips to help you make the most of your presentations

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you deliver an in-person sales presentation, you have aunique opportunity to appeal to your prospect on a number of levelsat once. Your physical appearance, your choice of words, yourgeneral demeanor and your level of enthusiasm all play a part inwhether you come across as powerful and persuasive or weak andineffective. No two sales presentations will be (or should be)alike, but there are some elements common to all successfulpresentations. Follow these pointers to make the most of your nextpresentation:

Be enthusiastic
You can't persuade anyone if you aren't persuaded yourself.Believe in what you are offering and communicate that confidencewith your enthusiasm. This doesn't necessarily mean talkingfast or loudly. It means being lively and punchy as you make yourpoints and ask your questions.

Keep it simple
Don't try to dazzle your audience with jargon or fancy words.People are rarely impressed by language that they don't readilyunderstand. More often they'll be confused, irritated, orbored. Say what you mean as clearly and concisely as possible. Beyourself and speak with the vocabulary you normally use.

Keep checking in
Remember that a powerful and successful presentation will beinteractive. As you work your way through your presentation,constantly monitor the communication process, "Is this clear,so far?" "These are the items most important to you, isthat right?"

Make eye contact
When you meet someone's eye, you are much more likely to winhis or her confidence and trust. Remember that a presentation islike a conversation. Keep eye contact with everyone in the room anddon't focus on only one or two people you think may be key. Youdon't necessarily know who the major player will be or how muchinput others will have in the decision-making process. And it neverpays to alienate anyone in your audience.

Put yourself in your listener's shoes
Make your presentation interesting and informative, and besensitive to the amount of time you are taking. Picture yourself onthe other side of the table and ask, "what would I want to behearing and seeing right about now?" Remember that for yourcustomer, there is nothing inherently interesting about you or whatyou are selling. You have got to make him care by answering thequestions he'll be asking himself: "So what?""What's in it for me?" and "How do Ibenefit?"

Be well rehearsed
Don't think you can create a successful presentation on thefly. Plan your presentations carefully and run through them severaltimes in advance to polish your techniques and build yourconfidence. Check your timing. If you're using slides andcharts, make sure they're in the right order. Try andanticipate questions or issues that your prospect might raise, andprepare answers to them in advance.

Dress for success
In this day and age of the casual office, it's sometimes hardto figure out what's appropriate to wear. You should be dressedat least as formally as the people you will be meeting with.It's always better to err on the side of being overdressed.When in doubt, dress conservatively in traditional businessattire.

Exit gracefully
Whether or not you think you've been successful, be graciousand leave the door open for further communication. Always concludeby thanking your prospects for their time.

The viewsand opinions contained herein are not necessarily those of AmericanExpress and are intended as a reference and for informationalpurposes only. Please contact your attorney, accountant or otherbusiness professional for advice specific to yourbusiness.

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