Fourteen Tips on Conquering the Presentation

When presenting, you need to hold your audience’s attention, convey information, and persuade people to act, while all the time guarding against anything that could derail your performance. To help you master this balancing act, here are a few pointers:

* Know your subject inside out. This is the single most important thing you can do to ensure a high-impact presentation. Be the absolute expert on whatever it is that you’ll be talking about. Nobody in the room should know as much about the topic as you do.

* Understand your audience. Speak at their level of knowledge. Know their needs. What do they want from you, and what do you want from them?

* Rehearse. Run through the presentation in front of a mirror, in front of a spouse or friend, or in front of your team. Use a cassette recorder or camcorder. Time yourself and add on a few minutes for Q&A.

* Anticipate questions. As you rehearse, stay on the lookout for places where someone could pose a question. Have answers ready. You’ll probably be asked at least one “out-of-left-field” question. Don’t be thrown off balance by it; take your time to think about the reply and be candid.

* Anticipate hardware problems. Your laptop may freeze. The overhead slide projector’s bulb may blow out. Think of something to say and do while you – and everyone else – wait for the laptop to reboot or the replacement bulb to arrive. Keep an easel and blank flipchart handy.

* Break the ice. Begin with a joke or a personal anecdote that is relevant to the subject at hand.

* Maintain eye contact. As you look around the room, meet each person’s eyes while you speak at least one sentence.

* Interact. Establish a connection with your audience. This is easier if you’re speaking to a small group. Invite people to participate, but keep the discussion focused and on point.

* Don’t talk to the screen. If you’re using overhead slides or a liquid crystal display (LCD) projector, keep your notes in front of you. Then you can continue to look at your audience while talking about the information on the screen behind you. If you want to point to something on the screen, point to it on the overhead slide or computer monitor instead.

* Recap often. If it’s a long presentation that covers many steps, help people absorb it or you may lose them somewhere along the way. Summarize, in one or two sentences, what you’ve covered so far and what the next step will be.

* Keep the lights on. Too many things can go wrong in the dark. People may fall asleep, or they may start concentrating on the refreshments. You won’t be able to make eye contact or read your notes. If you must lower the lights, dim them just a little, not all the way.

* Don’t mix eating and speaking. You can’t expect full attention to your presentation from someone who is biting into an overstuffed chicken sandwich. Avoid the “working lunch presentation.” First food, then business.

* Give handouts. Always give your audience a written summary or outline – after the presentation. There are times when you may need to hand the audience something during your presentation, such as in a training exercise. In such instances, give them only as much material as they need at that point in the exercise.

* Above all, relax. A few butterflies in your stomach are OK, but if you’re too tense, your performance can quickly go downhill. Remember: you’re the expert, you have their attention, you’re in command, and you’re going to make it worth their while. What’s there to worry about?

Copyright 2006 Arun Sinha.

Dodge Being Icky To Negotiate Successfully

Are you icky when you negotiate? When negotiating, the icky factor is not only a turnoff, but it can also be the death knell of the negotiation.

With a U.S. Congressman being perceived as being icky, as the result of recently getting caught in a spectacle that was made worse by the manner in which he addressed the situation, the question becomes, what makes one appear to be icky?

If you wish to avoid the perception of being icky in your negotiations, observe the following four insights.

Actions That Give The Appearance Of Being Icky:

Each negotiation situation is different from another. Thus, a myriad of factors can come into play, when attempting to isolate the icky factor. Nevertheless, there are constants involved in a negotiation that dictate what icky appears to be and what it feels like. Avoiding a direct question, especially when it’s posed several times, can heighten someone’s senses and enhance the impression that you’re not being forthright, which can lead to the thought that you’re icky. Another icky factor can be the way you speak. If you speak too fast or too slowly to someone that’s attuned to listening at a different pace, you can conjure up the image of one that’s ‘out of step’. Such actions can also create the impression that you’re evasive and thus, icky.

The Perception Of Being Icky:

Being perceived as icky stems from offending the sensibility of the person to whom you’re speaking. Such actions can occur from the manner in which you position your proposal, the perceived bravado in which you delivery it, and the background of the other person. To avoid such perceptions, take into consideration how you’re perceived when negotiating and adopt mannerisms that are appropriate for the environment.

Talking Too Long:

In any situation, if you discuss a subject too long, you run the risk of losing whatever goodwill you’ve generated. It’s better to communicate with certitude, in order to avoid the appearance of being perceived as icky. When you’re in a tenuous position, to avoid being perceived as icky during a negotiation, try to be as transparent as possible. If your behavior is perceived to be out of line with the manner in which it should be, the other negotiator may perceive something as not being right. He may not realize that he’s sensing his emotions at a subliminal level, but his gut will instinctively alert him to proceed with caution. If you project an image that causes him to experience such feelings, you’ll be alienating him, while simultaneously digging a deeper proverbial hole from which it may become extremely difficult to extricate yourself.

Gain Insight:

You can gain insight into the manner that someone perceives your actions by the way they respond to you. If they think you’re not being straightforward, they’ll display body language signals, such as leaning away from you, putting their hand over their mouth when you or they speak, and/or casting a look that you’ll perceive as being troubling. In essence, they’ll be dispelling what you say. If you sense such an action and you’re being forthright, question their perception of your sincerity. If there’s a need for clarification do so before proceeding with your position.

To assist in projecting the proper demeanor for your negotiations, alert your body to what mood you’d like to project. Then, observe the synchronization between your body language/mannerisms, and the way you’re perceived. If everything is in harmony, the other negotiator should perceive your sincerity and everything will be right with the world. Remember, you’re always negotiating.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

• To enhance the probability of being successful in your negotiations, avoid being perceived as icky.

• Anyone can misperceive a situation. If you sense your sincerity is being questioned, alert the other negotiator to what you perceive. Don’t allow the situation to go unheeded. To do so could be paramount to flirting with danger, needlessly.

• In any negotiation, negotiators may not see eye to eye on certain points. If you take the time and you’re skillful at decreasing the icky factor, you’ll increase your likability factor. In turn, subliminally, you’ll enhance the negotiation process.

Negotiations: The Art, Science, & Sport of Online Deals

Negotiations can seem as complex as physics, and in fact, people go to college to study the science of negotiating just as they would the laws of nature. At the same time, negotiation is like an ancient art form, some sort of Zen mental jujitsu. When neither the Zen nor the science works, though, no one wins.

Just ask any hockey fan out there. The recent lockout and cancellation of the 2004-2005 NHL season is a perfect example of poor negotiating. Both the players’ union and the league owners broke all of the rules when it came to brokering an agreement on player contracts. The result are hockey rinks across North America that are so quiet that you can hear a pin drop–unfortunately, not a puck. In dollar terms, professional hockey is missing out on television contracts, advertising fees, and tons of ticket sales.

Of course, you won’t lose billions in revenue if you fail at the latest negotiation at your favorite online classified or auction site. But you could let a treasure slip through your fingers. Success in deal making, on the other hand, could land you that rookie Bobby Orr card, signed Stanley Cup puck, or whatever other fantastic item you’re bidding on.

Plus, proper negotiations and compromise can ensure that you get the item for its fair value, including a good price on shipping and taxes. This increases the profitability of the trade for both you and the seller. The deal gets closed without nasty disputes, blow-ups, or hip checks. And both of you are left to do business again in the future.

To score all of these benefits, and avoid your own mini lockout, follow these simple tips on negotiating that will net results at online classified sites. As you’ll see, victory isn’t so much an exact science or a mystic sixth sense. It’s more about simple know-how and common sense.

Warm up. Don’t jump into a negotiation cold. Before you even face off with your opponent, figure out for yourself what would count as a victory. What do you exactly want out of the trade–and at what price?

Consider a truce. It may not even be worth dropping the puck at all. In other words, negotiations, like hockey games, can end in a loss for the home team, you. So weigh this risk before you start. If the item at hand is a dream buy, you may not want to endanger your purchase with a drawn-out negotiation.

Know when to pass. On the other hand, if the item is far from dreamy–and you’re pretty sure something better may come along later–you could pass on negotiations. Or go for the score. Offer a lowball price. If you win, you won’t be out too much, and if you lose, it won’t leave a mark either. But be certain if you play this game. You could miss this opportunity without a guarantee of future prospects.

Know your enemy. Coaches and players spend hours before games watching films of their impending competition to study their tendencies. You need to take the same approach when it comes to making a deal. Try to read your opponent’s mind. What is his or her goals in the negotiation? Does he or she have any strengths that they can use against you? Are there any weaknesses that you can use against them?

Spot all of your passing lanes. During your research, you may find that this particular vendor isn’t the only one in the game with what you’re looking for. Using these other vendors, and their prices, to your advantage can help you skate circles around your competitor.

Practice before you play. Also, research the item before you make a play on it. This knowledge, such as the going price and quality markers, can work as leverage during the negotiating, too.

Translate thought into action. Your strategy can become more complicated and unpredictable–and effective–once you’re in the heat of battle. Just remember to think on your feet and remember all that you learned in your “training.” For instance, if you know that the vendor has other items for sale besides your target, agree easily to one of these other purchases. Go for the easy one first. That will lure them into trusting you and giving you an easy pass on future, and more important, deals.

When it comes down to it, negotiation is all about this kind of give and take. It works out best when both parties get what they want out of the deal, without feeling ripped off as if they gave too much for too little.

That brings you to the one “don’t” of negotiating. Don’t fear a standoff. They are part of the art and science of trading, so don’t be tempted to cave in just to break the deadlock. Instead, let your opponent make the first move. They will. They want to close the deal, too, don’t forget. You both will be better off for this in the long run. And you won’t end up like the NHL, the No Hockey League.