Presentation Skills: Knowing Your Audience

“With presentation skills, the work is in the preparation, the fun is in the presentation.” Colleen Kettenhofen

To improve presentation skills, allow plenty of time, if at all possible, to find out exactly who will be in your audience. Consider obtaining some of their names, phone numbers and email addresses so you can do a “survey” or interview to find out more about their needs, challenges and expectations before the day you present. Are they colleagues or clients you’ve personally invited? What will be the attitude of your participants? In other words, do they want to be there or is attendance mandatory? Are you going to be presenting any “bad news” or information they may not want to hear?

In my seminars, people often tell me that two of their biggest presentation skills challenges are “how to handle a hostile audience,” and “how to present bad news.” If you start by knowing who will be in attendance, what their expectations are, as well as their objections, you can then begin to prepare your presentation. Other than rehearsing, nothing will improve presentation skills more than knowing details about your audience.

Incidentally, studies show that by rehearsing and truly being prepared, you can reduce nervousness by 75%. If you take the word “rehearse,” and delete the “se,” what word do you have? “Rehear.” When you rehearse, you are actually rehearing yourself. In addition, 95% of the success of your presentation is determined before you present. So knowing something about your audience, and then rehearsing the information, will greatly improve presentation skills.

Your main source of information will be the individual who invited you to speak. When you ask questions, it also gives the impression that you’re conscientious and meticulous in planning and preparation. Also, find out if there are any issues sensitive to the group or topics to be avoided. What about any cultural differences or language barriers?

Before I give a keynote speech or lead a breakout session at a conference, I inquire about getting a list of all attendees, their phone numbers and email addresses. I like to “interview” at least 3 people who will be attending. Often times they’ll come up with other pertinent issues that the contact person may not have known about or simply forgot to mention.

If your presentation is to a client, or potential new client, keep apprised of their company news, goals and objectives. What is an average work day like for the participants in your audience? What are their greatest challenges? And if applicable, how does your product or service help solve their problem?

Presentation skills = defining your purpose. Ask yourself, “What is my purpose in being here?” And, “Why are they here?” Everyone is always tuned in to “Radio Station WIIFM,” which stands for, “What’s in it for me?!” So, how does what you’re talking about address their problem, the “what’s in it for me?”

In addition to interviewing individuals ahead of your presentation, do “meets and greets” if time permits. Get to know people one-on-one right before your talk. It will calm your nerves and you’ll no longer see them as total strangers. Also, it shows you’re taking an interest in them. Often by talking one-on-one beforehand, you discover a wealth of new information you may want to bring up in your presentation.

In improving your presentation skills by knowing your audience ahead of time, here are some questions to ask yourself:

o What is the attitude of the audience? Do they want to be there? o What are their approximate ages? o What is the percentage of males to females? o What are their levels of education? o What is their technical expertise? o What about their geographic locations in terms of home base? o What about their cultural make up?

Remember, 95% of your presentation skills success is determined before your presentation. What do you know about your audience? How can you incorporate that information into the tailoring of your presentation? The work is in the preparation, the fun is in the performance.

Copyright 2006 Colleen Kettenhofen

Encountering the Money Curve on the Interview Road – Negotiating a Job Offer

Let’s assume for a moment that your job search has finally resulted in the hoped-for outcome. You’ve made it through an extensive, lengthy, and grueling series of interviews. You’ve given your best effort to dazzle and impress your future employer and it has paid off. They’ve decided to make you a job offer. Congratulations! It’s all smooth sailing from here on out. Or, is it?

As a rule, YES, it is a time to celebrate. However, this may also be the point on the road to being employed where you will encounter a signal to “proceed with caution”.

Sometimes the job offer is just right and the new company and position are ideal. You accept immediately, establish a start date, and prepare to resign from your current employer with fortitude and grace, excited to start a great new career path. That most often is what happens. However, what if you have to negotiate the dreaded money issue?

If so, the straight road you’ve traveled on through the process may hit a curve. If it does, a thoughtful approach and knowledge are essential. If you handle salary negotiations without this knowledge, you run the risk of alienating your future boss or the company and having the offer disappear into thin air.

Be assured that if a company wants to discuss money, it is a good sign. They are seriously interested in you. We all know, too, that money is important in any career decision you make and is a definite factor when you evaluate an opportunity.

This is a subject that is multi-faceted and complex, but let me give me some key points that may assist you in the event you need to negotiate.

First, let’s go back to the beginning. It is a standard rule of interviewing that the candidate should not be the party to bring up compensation during the job interview process. There will be plenty of time for that to take place and it’s the employer’s responsibility to discuss it when THEY are ready. Like in any type of negotiation, he who speaks first most often loses. If for some reason the money issue goes completely unaddressed and the ball is left in your court, the time to bring it up is late in the process and only after they have indicated that an offer is forthcoming. Keep in mind that the minute you name a price and fix it, any chance of negotiating is over. At that point, the employer will have that number in his mind, set in stone, and if you try to change the rules and ask for more, you look very disingenuous.

Before you start the interviewing process, it’s also wise to evaluate your current compensation in relationship to the average in your industry and the specific position for which you’re interviewing. Some companies have higher pay scales than others. You may not be affordable to a company if you are in a firm that pays on the high end of the scale. Yet, you may be very interested in them for a myriad of reasons (culture, growth opportunity, location, technology, etc) and making a lateral move or taking a small step back to make a big step forward in your career may be wise and a fine decision. If you have emphasized your current compensation and stress the desire to increase it early or during the interview process, it may frighten the prospective employer. Rather than risk making you an offer that is less, he may pass. So, take care not to price yourself out of the market. It limits opportunity. If you are realistic, compensation is only one piece of the puzzle anyway. You should and probably will consider many factors when you make a career change which are unrelated to the money issue.

A question I am asked often is, “Can I negotiate an offer?” The answer is, “Maybe.” Some companies will negotiate and frankly, some will not. No two companies are alike. There are sometimes ways to know beforehand. If you are working with a recruiter, he will probably have an idea about offer flexibility or should. Actually, it’s the recruiter’s job to insure that by the time the offer rolls around, everyone is on the same page and if so, there won’t be any issue over whether the offer will be accepted. Other sources of information might be a previous employee of the company or perhaps contacts you have in the industry. Often, though, if you have no third party input, you are simply flying blind. However, if you listen during the interview process to the potential employer, you may pick up clues as to whether his company is flexible when it comes to compensation. If you’re unsure, it’s a judgment call on your part when the offer comes in and you were expecting or hoping for more. If you do decide to negotiate, be open and reasonable. Have solid reasons regarding why you are asking for more compensation.

Also bear in mind that the best time to look for a position is when you’re employed and don’t necessarily need to make a change, but would for a better opportunity. That is when your marketability is at its highest. If you are unemploye, it’s a whole new landscape. Negotiating, while not impossible, becomes more difficult, especially if market conditions dictate an abundance of available candidates. It’s entirely possible that if you don’t accept what they have to offer, they’ll move on to someone who will. You can certainly query about flexibility on the salary, but keep it just that, an inquiry. Don’t expect a better offer just because you asked for it and don’t assume that there is more to be had or that they’re offering less than they can. Most employers will come in at the point that they feel is reasonable for them while ensuring that you’re pleased and excited to be in their employ.

The last word of caution in terms of salary negotiations is this: never try to evaluate two or multiple offers, pitting one against the other. It’s unfair to each employer and a disservice. It’s like comparing apples to oranges most of the time which can be very confusing for you. Each company and offer needs to be evaluated on its own merit based on the criteria that matter to you. Compare each opportunity with your objectives, not to each other. Every opportunity has pros and cons and money is only one factor. Only you know whether your instincts say, “This is my job.” Making a decision on that basis is far better than to invite a bidding war. To do so can result in no bid at all in the end.

In traveling the interview road, everyone will come to the money curve eventually. Proceed with caution, and if you choose to negotiate, do it with solid reasoning, respect, tact, and a reasonable expectation of a positive outcome for both you and the employer. Consider each offer on its own merits and present your value in terms of your own. From that point forward, it truly is smooth sailing.

Powerful Presentations

Powerful Presentations are not reserved for just listing and buyer appointments. Presentation skills should be utilized in any conversation you are having with consumers.

Today’s consumer has a new sophistication level and expects their real estate professional to be as forward thinking and savvy as they think they are. Presentations to the consumer must be powerful and straightforward without misrepresentations and your message clearly communicated. The consumer of today wants convenience combined with a new level of service for less, in addition to a number of other components that drive the bid to win customer care.

If you feel you are losing potential listings or buyers, then it’s time to make some alterations to your approach. Since we only get one chance to make a first impression, it’s important to avoid blowing it. Many agents deliver a communication style they feel is effective when it actually isn’t. Some agents feel they are showcasing an enhanced level of professionalism that should give the potential client confidence to work with them only to discover someone else has just listed their house. If this sounds familiar, then it’s probably time to work on your ability to actively listen and effectively communicate.

Meeting the needs of the consumer by providing the information they think they desire to understand the home buying and selling process can be tricky. Many consumers are not really sure what they want. So, when making your presentation, it becomes a platform for highlighting your value in a way the consumer is interested in building a relationship with you. Many potential clients want to know you care and showcasing your concern by sharing the information they really need to know is the best way to get there.

The consumer can typically see a phony baloney from a mile away. One of the best ways to build confidence is by being yourself and providing them with the facts of what lies ahead. Don’t hold back… tell them the truth and help them sort through it. If they want to list their house at an unreasonable price, discuss strategies to minimize the risk of hurting their marketability and ultimately themselves. Suggest they secure an appraisal so they get an expert opinion. Telling them the truth while leaving room open for alternate opinions is a great way for you to lead them while they maintain the control they need.

Let’s go through 8 key business boosting elements in preparing for a memorable presentation:

1. Have a Story and a Mission Statement. Letting others know why you do what you do as well as the Stories to illustrate your experiences in business and life brings your prospective client closer to you more quickly. It’s all about building that strong lifelong relationship. If you need help with ideas for your Story line, visit ted.com or Craig Worthmann’s video on “What’s Your Story”. Get them wired to listen to stories. Be contagious!

2. The Simile. Clear communication comes from a variety of skills. One of those skills in better understanding between you and your prospective client by using Simile’s. This helps others see what you are saying more clearly. For example… Q: How did you like the painting contractor selected to get your house ready for sale? A: He was like the Leonardo Da Vinci of Painters for his gifted quality and style. Similes help people understand what you do when using the words “like” or “as”.

3. Layout. People respond to color. When you make your decision on a PowerPoint or Google Slides or whatever means you select, be sure to use researched color. My favorite is always blue because research has shown it tends to be a good trust color. Some agents opt for an outline or checklist. Whatever keeps you on track and keeps the consumer engaged is great. You just want to make sure it’s your style and not someone else’s.

4. Questions. Asking questions and listening to the responses is a fabulous way to build that rapport. Too many agents are preparing their comeback instead of actively listening. Start asking questions from the time the interview is booked. You will learn a lot about how to craft your presentation so it is a home run.

5. Motivation. Find out what is motivating them to buy or sell. Do they really want to move, are they being forced because of their job, and specifically where their emotional state is on the topic. This knowledge will help you achieve better results through better understanding and handling of their emotions while securing their trust and confidence. You don’t want to walk in for a listing appointment with a happy face thinking about that big commission assuming they are happy when they are miserable about moving the kids again.

6. Active Listening. Understanding how the consumer thinks is a key ingredient to a successful presentation. You can find out how to communicate with your client just by listening to them. People want to be heard and most salespeople are on send rather than receive.

7. Less is more. One of the biggest issues with presentations is the overkill. Trying to cover too much ground or include things like graphs and technology that the consumer has no understanding or real interest in can be a deal killer. Plan your presentation by framing it properly and focus on your delivery.

8. In their shoes. In order to connect with different types of clients, real estate agents need to understand the different generations of people today to remain relevant. From Gen X to Millennials to Baby Boomers, you have to know who they are so adjustments can be made in your approach. The younger client uses tech devices to communicate. Many only want to receive texts or emails. In order to remain current and compliant, we need to learn new methods to understand how to work with everyone.

Get out there and practice your Powerful Presentations!