Presentation Skills for Marketers

Successful marketers know that presentation skills are just as important as the message – maybe more.

Steve Martin

The reason for this is every message is subject to interpretation, and the better it is presented the more likely the audience will draw from it the necessary elements that are going to be of value to them.

Media used to be the domain of specialists. Some had expertise in radio, television, newspapers, and other forms of print. Now we are surrounded by media – which means anyone in business needs to develop the skills for using it well.

This also means that every small business is indeed a media company. It’s both an opportunity and a responsibility, and presentation skills are an integral part of it.

Presentation skills are as much of an art as they are a science – you can (and should) expect to invest a lifetime into mastering them.

Ultimately, your goal is to follow the axiom that Steve Martin lived by when he was building his career as a stand-up comic – be so good they cannot ignore you.

That’s sound advice, whether your audience is live or virtual.

Skilled Presenters are Flexible

When you are delivering a message you have to own it – its a mindset. That’s the first step.

After that, you have to be ready to adapt to your audience, and this begins before the presentation – by getting to know as much about them as possible.

Presentation preparation is a practice that can only be developed through direct experience with audience members.

Speakers often comment on how they customize presentations for their audiences. Yet, customization feels like something you do to your audience – a calculated adjustment intended to earn a favorable response.

Skilled presenters, on the other hand, are more aware of being flexible – ready to use their familiarity with an audience to respond to even the most subtle signals.

Flexibility is a state of readiness that creates opportunities for learning and inspiration. It’s a collaboration – something you can only do with your audience – in real-time.

It resonates long after the conclusion of your presentation, and also serves to get you invited back to do it again.

Practice is Essential

When you are preparing and practicing your presentation there are often conflicted feelings of excitement – and fear!

This is what creates writers block and stage fright. It’s the two sides of your brain fighting with each other – one rational and one emotional. This has to be resolved – and hopefully before you get on stage.

Practice is the surest method for resolving this conflict so that you can effectively serve your audience. It’s a skill, and one that can only be learned from the platform.

If you want to be a better speaker, you have to speak. It works the same with blogging, selling, and every other endeavor that requires presentation skills.

As a professional speaker, I’m often asked prior to my presentation if I am nervous. My response is always the same.

I hope so!

Coherence is Connectedness

For a presentation to start and progress well, there has to be a certain amount of angst to heighten your awareness – and just a little is enough.

After that, experience comes to bear on the situation. Paradoxically, your intense focus on you will suddenly shift to them. There is simply no other way to do it.

You have to first get centered and grounded within yourself, and then shift that awareness to the audience to create coherence – one in which you are all of the same mind. 

Some people think of this as being in flow or in the groove. It doesn’t matter what you call it, just know that it works.

Presentation skills are vital for marketers. Since I’m often asked for advice in this area, you can expect me to share more presentation tips and best practices here from my personal experiences.

Until then, how about sharing yours?

Leave a comment below.

And please share this with your community and encourage them to join the conversation.

Until next time, Jeff

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Comments

  1. This is great info. I’ll practice being flexible in my presentation through all my interactions.

    • Jeff Korhan says:

      I can only speak from experience Roland – but flexibility has always worked.

      Trust that the net will be there – and jump!

  2. Jeff, thank you for sharing this. As a marketer and public speaker I have learned a few things about presentations:

    1. Be real. People like to connect with genuine people. You can do a textbook perfect speech yet fail to get the results of someone who is sincere. Obviously you need to know how to speak well but your heart is what people connect with more than your brain.

    2. Eliminate filler words. And, um and ahs tend to get in the way of your content. Work on eliminating them.

    3. Know your subject like the back of your hand. When I know my topic inside and out I’m much more confident when I deliver my speech or presentation.

    (Toastmasters is a great group to help improve your public speaking skills.)

    • Jeff Korhan says:

      Joshua – I cut my teeth with Toastmasters – a little embarrassed to say over 30 years ago!

      They can be a tough crowd.

      Surprisingly, the live audience is much kinder if you are making the effort. :)

  3. For those who are serious about speaking, National Speakers Association chapters across the country are excellent places to hone your skills. I also speak professionally and have found the Speaker magazine and chapter meetings to be very valuable.

    • Elaine,

      I’d say that NSA is a great place to learn about monetizing and branding your speaking business. I’m a member of NSA Oklahoma and we rarely touch on skill. I tell people to go to Toastmasters to learn the skill, and NSA to learn the business.

      Patrick

      • Jeff Korhan says:

        One thing that NSA and Toastmasters have in common is its a good place to find a coach to help with special situations, such as a very important keynote or building a new presentation from the ground up.

        Those intensely focused situations are where I have personally learned the most.

        BTW Patrick and Elaine, I’ve presented at both NSA national and a couple of chapters, so if yours is interested in online marketing or social media topics, feel free to have them contact me.

      • That’s too bad, Patrick. Our chapter has a regularly scheduled hands-on lab where speakers can try out their presentations and have colleagues give them feedback.

        • Great idea and I’ll suggest it. What we have is a mastermind group that meets outside of the regular monthly meeting where we go around the table and see who is having challenges with their speaking business. Others can pitch in for help. That is where I was [virtually] slapped and told “You don’t ever speak for free”. You may waive your fee in certain conditions, but don’t call it free :) :)

          • Jeff Korhan says:

            We’ve got one of those going too Patrick. Our mastermind group works out well because its typically just a handful of us – vs. the 50-100 we can get a a monthly meeting.

            Recently we’ve switched to a more structured approach – focusing on one specific topic on which everyone shows up prepared to share.

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