When looking to improve your presentations, it's a good idea to look beyond talks and conferences. You can often find inspiration and useful little tips in everyday life. For example, I've written about lessons I learned from concerts a few times. But you can also learn a lot simply from paying attention to how people do their work.
My family recently had the need to use the services of a real estate agent. We ended up meeting with him for the first time face-to-face at the object in question. Before the situation could become too awkward, he simply took the initiative and introduced himself and his colleague. Then he launched into a short introduction about what it is they do and what they specialise in, followed by a summary of the case in question, i.e. what they knew about it so far and why we were all here in this room now.
This introduction was short, informative, and to the point; clearly something he had done before. He didn't get lost in details - it was quite obviously meant to get everyone on the same level. During this short speech and later on, whenever there was the need to explain something to everybody, he made it a point to look at each person in the room while talking.
The result? He built up trust. My youngest sister, who just recently had to deal with several real estate agents, was impressed by how organised this one was compared to the others she had met. My other sister, who works in a related field, was impressed by his knowledge of the topic. The rest of us got the feeling that this person was really going to take care of our needs and that he knew what he was talking about. Needless to say, we hired him.
The next time you work with someone whose job it is to sell you something, especially when a certain amount of trust is required to make the sale, pay close attention to how they build up that trust. What do they say? How do they say it? Are they looking at you (especially if they're talking to more than one person)? What are they wearing, i.e. is it appropriate for the job or are they over- or underdressed?
Afterwards, try to identify the reasons why you decided that you could (or could not) trust that person. What can you learn from this experience for your own presentations?
(Image Credits: For Sale Sign by Aaron Murphy, from freeimages.com)
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