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Why less is definitely more…

When it comes to delivering a business winning presentation, there are many things that you need to consider and many challenges to overcome.

The two biggest challenges that stand between you and ultimate success are:

1. Being perceived as authoritative. The client must feel they can trust your team’s professional judgement.

2. Ensuring the client remembers what we said. The client will be listening to many presentations. You need to make sure they remember yours and can recall your key messages.

Most of us try to cram too much into the 20 or 30 minutes we have been given, on the mistaken belief that more is better.

So presenters find themselves talking quickly to get through all the information. Additionally nerves kick in and we talk even faster.

But talking too quickly robs you of professional authority. Your words are devalued and what you said has been trivialised.

The listeners have been subject to a high-speed non-stop barrage of words, and so nothing stands out for them. They have understood little and retained even less.

So here are two key principles for you:

1. Speak more slowly. This gives authority and establishes your professional credibility. You will be perceived as measured, thoughtful and in control.

Normal conversation is about 150 to 175 words per minute (wpm), whilst a presentation should be around 125 wpm.

As a benchmark Barack Obama, acknowledged as the best orator for a generation, speaks at 100 wpm.

Of course this will mean you will say less. That’s good though as it means you will have to focus on the key messages.

Is it possible to talk too slowly?

In over 20 years working with senior managers the number of people I have heard who present too slowly can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

2. Learn to use silence. The pauses between sentences are as important as the sentences themselves.

Pauses implicitly communicate the import of the statement just made and give the listener time to assimilate and store the information.

The length of pauses will vary. Longer pauses after major points, short pauses after less significant ones.

Listen to the hourly news bulletins on BBC Radio 4: Longer pauses clearly separate individual items, shorter pauses specific points within each.

Properly used pauses will ensure the client, understands the structure, flow and content of the presentation. And having understood it they will remember your key points.

Achieve success with these two principles and there’s a high probability that you will have presented with authority and in such a way that the prospective client remembers your key messages.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you deliver winning presentations, please get in touch.