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5 Tips to Present Like a Pro

From the pages of In Business magazine.

One of my favorite things to do is watch people give presentations. I generally prefer business topics, but I am open to anything new, interesting, or informative. Not only do I like to listen to the content of the presentations, I like to carefully watch the speakers themselves.

What are their mannerisms? What kind of technology, if any, do they use in their presentations? How do they interact with their audience? Having seen hundreds, maybe even thousands, of presentations, I have noticed several things that work and a lot that don’t, and I’ve been able to identify a few characteristics that make a speaker great. Speaking can be an excellent way to build your personal brand and grow your business. However, if you present poorly, the negative impact can be just as great. If you want to give a stellar presentation, remember to keep these five traits of great speakers in mind:

  1. They are personable and relatable. No matter how important you are, people won’t listen to you unless they can relate to you. You aren’t a robot, so don’t speak like one. Let your personality shine through, and feel free to mix in some personal details about yourself. Ditch the stock photos and add in pictures that are truly relevant to the stories you tell and the examples you give. The more connections you make with the audience, the more likely they are to be interested in what you have to say.
  2. They make complex topics interesting and easy to understand. Last month, CONNECT Madison had the opportunity to tour the Carbone Cancer Center and hear presentations from two physicians about their research. The topics they covered were extremely detailed and complex. However, both presenters did an excellent job of explaining their findings in layman’s terms and helping us understand why their work was important and valuable. If they can make “regulatory molecular pathways that are used or dysregulated in different types of human malignancies” comprehensible to a group of 20-somethings, you can simplify your message, too.
  3. They have good visuals. I don’t know about you, but I have had a couple of near-death (by PowerPoint) experiences. Being trapped in a presentation where there are way too many slides or the presenter has used size-10 font to squeeze 10 paragraphs onto one visual is not helpful for anyone. Use pictures to emphasize your point. The audience’s attention should be on you and your message, not on a slide that has more text than a novel or a graph that is much too complex to read from a projector. Check out the free service Prezi (prezi.com) to find out how to make your presentations more visually appealing.
  4. They are great storytellers. Don’t script your presentation. Write out bullet points with key takeaways and examples you want to give for each point. Talk to the audience like you are speaking to one specific person instead of a large group. Everyone loves a good story, so create examples that draw in the audience and emphasize key ideas you are trying to convey. People are much more likely to remember an interesting story than a specific fact or talking point.
  5. They inspire people to take action. What is the point of your presentation? Is it to educate people on their finances? Teach them how to grow their business? Convince them to give to a charity or cause? You are talking to people about something they should take action on, so make sure that point is clear. Be specific about what steps people should take once they leave the room. If you make it easy for people to get involved and take action, they will.

Your Fast Track Action Items:

  • Check out TED.com and watch some of the most-viewed talks. Not only are the topics compelling and sometimes controversial, the presenters know how to capture the attention of the audience.
  • Arrange to have your next presentation videotaped. Watching yourself in action is an excellent way to see what you did well and where you can improve.
  • Start to look at situations in your daily life differently. How can something that happened to you be turned into a story to help teach a lesson or convey a point you are trying to make? Write down some ideas for your next presentation.

Email me at jennaatkinson1@gmail.com to let me know what your best speaking tip is and how I can help you hit your next presentation out of the park!

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7 Steps to Killer Content

If you pay any attention to the latest marketing trends, it is clear to see that content marketing has been on the rise as one of the top strategies to drive business growth. According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends- North America report, 93% of marketers report using content marketing, but only 42% consider themselves effective. In this article, I will give you the basics of what exactly “content marketing” is, why your firm should consider using it, and how to be effective with this tool to generate new revenue.

What is Content Marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience- with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” The days of plastering your logo and brand anywhere and everywhere in hopes that prospects will know to call you when they need the service you provide are over. Consumers have more options than ever before. In order to differentiate yourself you need to provide valuable content that shows why you or your firm are the expert in a certain area and how you can solve a problem they have. Content marketing can come in many forms from white papers and research to videos and podcasts.

Why You Should Consider Content Marketing

With the emergence of DVR, the internet and print publications that are too numerous to count, consumers can easily fast forward or page through ads that are merely a snapshot of a company with a logo and message about what services they provide. In order to catch a prospect’s attention in a world of seemingly limitless information at their finger tips, you need to create something they are interested in dedicating time to. Your competition is no longer just other businesses in your industry. It is every person and company that has a message they are putting out for mass consumption. The purpose of content marketing is to deliver valuable, interesting and consistent information to your target audience to stay top of mind as a niche expert and most importantly to keep your firm relevant. The advantages can vary depending on your specific strategy, but some of the top benefits include brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition and engagement and thought leadership. If any of these benefits sound like a good result for your firm, content marketing could be for you.

Although this marketing avenue may not have a large direct impact on your business development budget, it does take time, effort and consistency. Here are seven tips to help ensure your content marketing strategy is effective:

Start with a Strategy

When it comes to content marketing, there are many different ways you can generate your information and many channels you can distribute the content though. Who specifically are you trying to reach? What methods will you use to distribute your content- firm website, social media, blog, webinar or seminars? How much time per week or per month are you willing to dedicate to creating new content? What are your SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound) goals when it comes to content marketing? How will you know your strategy is working-number of new clients, new revenue or leads?

Know Your Audience

Before you create any content, make sure you have a specific idea of who your target audience is. This will have a large impact on not only what kind of information you produce, but how it is presented and where it is distributed. It is okay to have more than one “prospect profile” to create content for, but make sure to create specific content for each different niche geared towards the challenges they face and what they would find useful. The more specific you can be with your ideal prospect profile (whoever you want to consume the content), the more likely you are to be successful in engaging those prospects and potentially concerting them to clients. Keep in mind that you can consider audiences other than prospects such as Centers of Influence or industry leaders. If you can get these influencers to read, and better yet, share your content you will gain credibility as an industry expert.

Set a Schedule

One of the most crucial components for success is consistency. Unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles for a content marketing campaign is lack of time to produce new content. If you decide that this strategy is a good fit for your firm, make sure to have a schedule of when new content will be created. One way to help lessen the time commitment is to have a rotating schedule of partners or staff who can take turns creating new content. Keeping information fresh and timely will ensure repeat visitors and loyal readers. The more information a prospect uses from your firm, the more likely they are to become a client or refer a client in the future.

Be Interesting

Not only does your content need to be valuable, it also needs to be interesting. Would you pass on a boring, generic advertisement to a colleague or friend? Probably not. One of the goals of content marketing is to create information and resources that people will be likely to share or pass on to other who might be interested in a certain area. For example, if a new law is passed that will have a large impact on a certain industry, how could you share the information in a way that gives life to the subject instead of laying out the implications in a black and white manner. How could you make it interesting so if one person from that industry comes across the information, they would be more likely to share it with others they know in that field? Create unique spins on information that will spark conversation amongst your target audience.

Don’t Recreate the Wheel

Once you spend time to create interesting and valuable content you should use it in as many ways and in as many forms as possible. For example, if you write a three page white paper that prospects can download from your website, you can use specific facts or important points as posts on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. You could break down the white paper into several smaller blog posts that can be distributed over a longer period of time. You could create a webinar that presents the information in a live format that allows time for interactions and questions. Create short video segments to post to YouTube or on your firm website. Be creative and find ways to repurpose your content to reach new audiences.

Gather Information

One way to be more proactive in the conversion process from prospect to client is to gather information from those who consume your content marketing and then add a personal touch. For example, if you create an e-book on “Ten Estate Planning Mistakes That Could Cost You Millions,” require prospects to enter their name, email and possibly phone number in order to download the content. You can begin to create a list of interested prospects and send them other relevant information. Better yet, you can send a personal email or make a phone call to ensure they received the resource and answer any questions they may have. This is a great way to showcase your expertise and open the door for a potential prospect.

Track Your Progress

One of the biggest problems marketing departments often face is measuring results of certain campaigns. Although tracking a new client back to a specific piece of content or even initiative can be challenging, there are certain metrics that can show progress towards your content marketing goals. Some areas to measure your growth from a content marketing campaign can include web traffic, prospect/lead quantity and quality, number of “shares” on social media platforms, SEO ranking (search engine optimization- where you show up in a Google search) and feedback from current clients and prospects.

Comment below or email me at jennaatkinson1@gmail.com and let me know your best tips and tricks for killer content.