Say you’ve gone into a negotiation, confident you’d clinch the deal, only to find that you’ve been flat out rejected or worse – the potential prospect suddenly decides they don’t want to work with you at all. What went wrong?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the best negotiation skills are through dominating or bullying someone into submission. If not, they make the mistake of being too submissive instead.
The result? A recipe for disaster. Hard-bargaining not only ruins deals but future business relationships as well. Being too submissive, on the other hand, incur more losses.
But whether we like it or not, everyone is a negotiator and has something to negotiate every day whether it be haggling over the price of a new car, persuading a toddler to eat his peas or convincing a client why they should choose your pitch. This skill is part of our lives and is inevitable – especially in business transactions and disputes.
There are many effective and different kinds of negotiation strategies and tactics but what makes one a great negotiator is the ability to combine these strategies to provide a win-win solution in the right place and at the right time. All in all, great negotiators are those who are hardworking, have good timing and have a little bit of luck on their side.
Hence, here are 20 tips that will help hone your negotiating skills so you stick out from the average Joes:
1. Plan ahead
According to experts, effective negotiation is 80% preparation. So if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Before every negotiation, it’s extremely important to come prepared with a plan and backup. A good plan consists of thorough research and homework of your opponent and their situation before hand.
This is because when you come in knowing your stuff, you’ll instantly sound much more confident – and that much more convincing. Doing otherwise will only make others take you less seriously and you may also not strike the best deal.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before a negotiation:
What is my end goal?
Are these the right questions to ask?
What questions will my opponent ask?
How do I answer my opponents?
2. Don’t be a pushover
How you sound, act or behave can determine what others will think of you – especially during first impressions. If you let others control your actions or easily give in to them, there is no way you can ever clinch a successful deal. To do so, you must come in confident and assertive yet not too aggressive at the same time. Not only will you convince the other party, you will also get the deal done on your terms.
Although not everyone is naturally confident, the first step is to look the part. A study found that 93% feel non-verbal communication affects their opinion of others. So be conscious of your gestures, your posture and how you hold your head.
3. Asking (the right) questions
Here’s an example: you want to buy the cheapest fish in the market. You ask all kinds of questions like how many shops sell this particular fish and which is the most expensive to the least. You even find out the name of the shop that sells the freshest fish. But, you did not ask the right question which was where you can buy the cheapest fish.
Although it’s good to ask as many questions as you can to gain insight, it’s much more important to ask the right ones. Asking the right questions not only saves you a lot of time, it provides you with the information you need first and foremost so you can negotiate much more effectively. Therefore, always prioritise and think of the questions that will benefit you the most. The other questions will provide bonus information.
4. Lay everything out
As Harvard Business School professor, Deepak Malhotra would say, “negotiate multiple interests simultaneously.”
In his book “Negotiating the Impossible”, it explains that by having several offers or issues laid out by you and your opponent, it makes it easier for negotiators to make wise tradeoffs. This means they can fight for what matters to them most while giving up what the other side values more.
Many of us make the mistake of negotiating one issue at a time which will often lead to everyone fighting hard for whatever that happens to be offered. This will less likely provide what everyone truly wants out of the deal.
Sometimes, negotiating deals can get a little too intense between you and the other party. So what can be done to help deescalate the situation? Showing positive facial expressions.
This is because your facial expression have the ability to influence your emotions and others around you as well.
One of the ways to show positive facial expressions is to smile. It naturally creates a higher frequency of sound in your mouth, changing the overall tone of your voice. And due to the human instinct of mirroring, it will also likely make others smile along with you which then improves the mood of everyone in general. However, it is important to smile genuinely. A forced smile will only end up making you look confused and frustrated.
6. Build bridges instead of walls
The most effective negotiators are professionals who know their business and don’t let personalities and irrational behavior interfere with their mission. While they know it is good to have power in a negotiation, they are also thinking long-term for their company. This means building a good relationship with their opponent and not straining it.
Building good relationships with other parties is essential especially if you are negotiating with them on a regular basis. This is because if the other party was threatened into submission, they probably will make it harder for you in the next negotiation or worse, stop negotiating with you again, possibly cutting off any future business.
7. Focus less on your limitations and more on your opponent’s
Focusing on your weaknesses or limitations too much will naturally make you believe your offer is less desirable than your opponent’s. This then makes you believe you are in a less powerful position which can affect your negotiating. Do not dwell on your limitations as your opponent will be able to sense your concerns and grab onto that weakness to their advantage.
Instead, focus on their’s instead. Asking the right questions and finding out what they’re trying to solve and why they need to solve them, will help you gain leverage in a negotiation. This is because gaining the upper hand when it comes to negotiating is about focusing on the pressures that your opponent face.
8. Know your opponents
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”
By further understanding your opponents better, the easier it is for you to know what their wants and needs are which puts you in a favourable position. To understand them better, always ask as many open-ended questions as possible to gather all the details you can about them.
So if you’re going to ask for something, take the time to find out what motivates that person. Then, make an offer that fuels their motivation. It is important to make them feel as if they are the ones being satisfied as it makes them much more open to giving you what you need.
But, if they still do not want to agree to your terms, don’t lash out and attack them. Instead, think what could possibly motivate the other party while you try to achieve your desired goal as well.
With that said, this does not mean that you give them everything they want – it’s about fulfilling what their basic requirements are while fulfilling yours. Make it a win-win situation.
9. Adapt to the situation
Many of us seem to have the misconception that being assertive, dominant and fearless will be sure fire way to help us clinch the deal. But in some cases, the key to a successful negotiation isn’t exactly about being dominant but rather about finding common ground.
Experts like Researcher Scott Wiltermuth explains this concept over at the Harvard Business Review where successful negotiations are more about finding a complementary relationship than it is about being assertive. This sometimes mean being submissive.
This is achieved when two parties reach dominance complementarity whereby one person in an interaction behaves differently from the other. This means if one negotiator acts submissive the other will act more dominant. Research shows that these individuals who achieve dominance complementarity reached better deals than pairs who are not. In short, this means learning when it is the right time to be aggressive and when not to to be.
10. Listen More than You Talk
“If I listen, I have the advantage, If I speak, others have it.”
Listening sounds simple but it takes effort, energy and patience to do so effectively. Many would be surprise of how impatient others can get while a person is speaking, cutting into their conversation before the speaker can finish.
One of the biggest misconceptions about negotiating is that people feel the need to ramble on and on. They tend to have this perception that more things get done if they talk more.
Instead, of talking more time, listen more instead – Studies prove that great negotiators are those who are able to uncover more needs of others than their less successful counterparts. This finding is important especially for sales people since they make their living by negotiating.
So listen. You can find out what the other party is looking to get out of the negotiations by letting them speak more. This in turn helps you gain insights of what the other party is willing to compromise and where their position stands – The more you know about their position, the clearer it is to for you to offer a deal they can’t resist.
Here’s a video about the power of listening by William Ury, one of the world’s best-known and most influential experts on negotiation:
11. Remain Calm in Dire Situations
It is vital to remain calm under stressful or pressurising situations during a negotiation. A good negotiator is one who does not combust and let their emotions get the better of them. They do not panic and are able to think clearly throughout the process, coming out of the negotiation successfully and unscarred. Bad negotiators on the other hand, end up missing opportunities and creating bad relationships with other prospects which makes it more disadvantageous for themselves.
One way to ensure you do not panic when the other party is pressing you is to alwaysthink positively, focus on your strengths and always remember what your end goal is.
Furthermore research shows we stand a greater chance of success if we focus more on our strengths. When under pressure, try to think of a positive situation, thought or outcome. This will help distract your brain from focusing on the negativity when things don’t seem to be going so well.
“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. – Han Selye”
This is because thinking positively helps your brain to keep stress in the back of your mind. Just think about it, when you are happy or optimistic, do you ever feel stressed and anxious? Exactly, you don’t. This is because positive thinking shifts your attention to a “stress-free” zone in your brain.
Here’s a video explaining how we can turn our negative energy into something positive:
12. Learn to deal with negative behaviour
Humans are naturally emotionally-driven. But sometimes, letting your emotions get the better of you can end up destroying relationships and businesses. It is evident throughout history that ego and emotions have destroyed many corporations and businesses.The moment you lose your temper, you are in danger of creating bad ties with the prospect when dealing with them in the future or worse, losing them as prospect forever.
Instead, try to detach yourself from your emotions during the situation and focus on closing a deal – something much more rewarding and beneficial in the long run. It’s important to remember that negotiations aren’t personal attacks on a particular person, but rather they are just a form of business.
13. Do not rush a negotiation
One thing is for sure; no one likes to be rushed.
Here’s an example: Imagine being a customer, contemplating on whether you should buy a product and a salesperson is incessantly trying to rush you to the cashier to buy it. The same goes for negotiating.
Nothing will make you look more desperate than being in a constant rush to try and seal the deal. It’s great when a deal is closed quickly so you can reap the profits sown but it’s better to be patient.
Not only do you risk annoying the future prospect, you may also skip over the important points, which can incur losses on your end.
Furthermore, your managers or bosses will not be happy to hear you rushed to close a deal without covering all the necessary bases. Even if you are tight for time, make sure you cover every possible point and not miss out anything important.
14. Have a win-win mindset
The best outcome is when a solution satisfies both you and the other party. To see to it that there are no losers at the end of the deal. This is, undoubtedly, the most preferred negotiation anyone would love to be in.
And this is possible. But it means being willing to put differences aside so you can listen carefully to what both of you want. And then working together to find a win-win solution.
This win-win mindset will not only make you leave the room getting what you want, but it also helps deepen the bond between you and the other person.
This is because you’ve come to appreciate the courtesy and respect the other person has shown you – and likewise with them. If you’re lucky, they may want to work with you again as a future prospect in the long run.
15. Always make sure price is the last negotiation
Never negotiate the price until everything else has been negotiated. This is because money is mostly the only thing your company will ever receive from a buyer.
Furthermore, agreeing on the price first can put you in a disadvantageous position and at risk of a loss. This is especially so if the prospect starts negotiating other terms of the deal after the price has been established.
Ensure that you’re only negotiating the price when it’s the last thing standing between you and a deal.
16. Don’t give in too early
Resist the temptation to give in too quickly when someone asks for a concession. That person is not entitled to anything. And, you shouldn’t feel pressured to meet their needs either.
Giving in too early often results in the decrease of value of your product, solution or services. It may even be the permanent set expectation for future negotiations which can be disadvantageous for you in the long run. This brings us to our next point.
17. Always get something in return
It’s perfectly normal to give concessions in a negotiation from time to time. However, do it in moderation.
The biggest mistake people make is to constantly give something away without getting something in return. This will make your opponent feel entitled to these extra concessions. In the long run, it can make them feel dissatisfied during future negotiations since they’ll start to expect more.
Instead of giving in all the time, try getting something in return as well. Make them earn these concessions so they’ll appreciate everything you’ve given up to them. This is to ensure they do not take you for granted.
For example, if a prospect wants a discount on the price, make it conditional on a longer contract. Or, if a prospect wants something else thrown in with their purchase, make it conditional on signing a deal immediately.
The arrangement can be made in any way so long as you’re also getting something in return.
18. Be realistic
A study conducted by Forbes found that negotiators who do better than the average have high but realistic goals.
Great negotiators observe, calculate and rely on their gut feeling to get a good read on what might happen and what might not.
They also have a profound understanding of what’s in the field of play and what’s beyond, making them good decision makers. As a result, their trades, ideas and solutions are often a success.
19. Learn to walk away
Sometimes, we know a deal can’t be made and that’s okay. There’s no point wasting you and the other party’s time if both of you cannot settle.
However, many seem to have this misconception that they must clinch the deal which may backfire on them. For instance, if you constantly give large concessions just to get deals, you’ll only be incurring losses at your end.
In short, know when a deal is no longer attainable so you know when to stop. If a deal cannot be salvaged or does not benefit you, it’s okay to walk away. This can be challenging when sales are slow but remember that there will always be someone to sell to if you keep your pipeline full.
20. Practice, practice, practice!
This is the most important and most the underrated strategy. Without enough research on the topic, we can all agree that not many are able to sound convincing when negotiating. Well, the same goes for practicing.
Negotiating like any other skill, requires practice in order for an individual to be good at it. To improve, try to condition yourself to negotiate at every opportunity.
Not only will it help you become more attuned with negotiating, it also increases your success rate over time. In addition, you become much more confident and well-respected amongst your peers, customers and even opponents.
Summing it Up
Overall, negotiation is a mix of art and science. It takes a combination of street smarts, unwavering discipline and dedicated time spent on research, the thought process and execution.
Once you’ve mastered negotiating, the hard work will be worth it. It’ll help unlock your ability to get the best deal possible under any circumstances.
With that being said, negotiating does not have one format or structure that’s always the right answer. Instead, it’s about understanding how to convince your prospects with the tips provided in the right situation. So what method you use will determine whether you successfully clinch the deal.
And there you have it! Make full use of these 20 tips to help hone your negotiation skills. Leave a comment below if it worked for you!
There’s no doubt that a riveting story structure and a visually arresting deck are both requisites of a great presentation or pitch. However, apart from the other presentation mistakes you might make, all your work developing your presentation might be for naught if your audiences don’t trust you. If you can’t establish credibility early on in your presentation, it’s as good as not delivering the presentation in the first place as your messages will likely fall on deaf ears and you can’t influence your audience.
The adage: “Trust isn’t given, it’s earned.” usually rings true here. Problem is, trust is typically hard to earn and sometimes, you simply don’t have the luxury of time to build trust quickly from scratch on the first contact with your audience.
Unlike personal selling, you don’t always get to build rapport with your audience on a one-to-one basis. Instead, it’s likely you’ll only be able to speak to a group of people at a time when you’re delivering a presentation.
From our experience, your credibility during a presentation depends on a few factors
i) If the audiences feel you are authentic and honest as a speaker
Nobody likes a sleazy salesperson. If you appear to be untrustworthy or evasive when delivering your presentation, you can expect to face obstacles getting them to take action or believe what you say.
ii) Whether you are perceived as an expert on your topic of choice
There are way too many people calling themselves gurus in the market and audience members are quick to make snap judgments based on whether you have the requisite knowledge or expertise.
iii) How well you can appeal to your audiences
Even if you hit all the right notes in the other two areas, you might not always be able to appeal to certain audience members that might have deep-seated prejudices which go against your cause.
It’s easy to make sweeping claims like: “We’re the best company in this industry”, but supporting these audacious statements with hard facts and data is where it gets challenging.
Naturally, you won’t always have research papers to back up every assertion or opinion you might have. Here are some ways to reference other people or hard evidence in varying degrees of credibility:
Referencing actual research papers and aggregated statistics
You’d be surprised at the extent of research that has been published. Scientists have conducted experiments and research on anything from cognitive biases on how to be more persuasive to stats on mobile penetration in specific countries.
For example, in a formal business presentation setting, there’ll be occasions where you’ll need to reference quantitative evidence on why certain business decisions need to be made. These obviously can’t be based on your own personal opinion but hard, indisputable factual evidence. Using data in your presentations is essential to building trust.
Quote respected authorities or experts
In some cases where you’re trying to make a case to take action on something that you can’t find quantitative data on, citing a strong ‘endorsement’ or quote from an authority figure is the next best thing.
Similarly to how we trust authority figures purely via conditioned behaviour in our lives (doctors, police, teachers) as theorized by Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence, we tend to lend trust to people whoare considered authorities in their respective fields (aka the Principle of Authority).Principles from Influence also apply in presentations.
For example, Jack Ma of Alibaba has risen to fame as an entrepreneur and business magnate to the extent that his foresight on market climates and the ‘future’ of industries is widely cited. Can we say that his statements are 100% accurate? No. Yet, we still afford his words credibility because of his stature, background, and inherent expertise.
2. Develop your expert identity
A Nielsen research study found that consumers in a marketing setting unanimously seek out information and take action on content provided by companies or journalists they perceive to be experts.
It is integral that when you’re speaking on a topic, you have to be perceived as someone that has the relevant expertise and that you ‘know what you’re talking about’.
A way to do this implicitly is weaving a mix of client testimonials, credentials and relevant awards to signify your deep domain knowledge and expertise.
Show past client testimonials and credentials
A great way to immediately build credibility is having someone else talk about you in a positive light. Testimonials are a quick way to do this without seeming like you’re selling yourself – instead, it’s someone else doing the selling.
In Robert Cialdini’s epic, Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion, this effect is known as ‘Social Proof’ where we augment our behaviors to match what is perceived to be socially acceptable or correct behaviour as dictated by the masses. It’s almost like a herd mentality of sorts. He goes even further to talk about the more pronounced effects of it when the source of social proof is similar to the subject that needs to be persuaded.
What this means is that if you quote clients that are similar to your audience during your presentation, you’ll have a much easier time establishing trust from the get-go. At the same time, showing a list of past clientele can also help to assure listeners that others have put their trust in you prior and this can improve your image of trustworthiness.
Look the part
We tend to make snap-judgments on different unconscious signals by salespeople or presenters. It could be a hint of contempt in their microexpressions or the way they shake hands, but half the battle is sometimes won by simply looking the part. The visual aspect and first impression lends to build part of your expert identity.
If you try to make someone pay for an expensive meal that’s wrapped in cling wrap in a dingy little store versus a posh, clean and well-designed restaurant, you’ll definitely get push back. In most cases, presentations aren’t too different.
First impressions can be affected by anything from sloppy dressing to cluttered slides. Venngage put together an excellent resource on expert presentation design styles you can adapt for your next presentation.
Have an unconventional opinion
True experts are expected to have original ideas that sometimes go against the grain of commonly touted advice or industry norms. It’s not to say that you should actively seek to be contrarian for the sake of it, but being able to hold your ground and have a clear stance is indicative of an expert that knows what he/she is talking about. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk can be considered a prolific and polarizing figure because of his irreverent way of speaking as well as his contrarian opinions.
An easy way to do this is to identify a common, but misguided belief that the industry has and logically debunk it with your own theory. Having an original stance and supporting it with evidence can quickly help you become perceived as an expert.
We buy into the brand of industry moguls like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk precisely because they seem to offer ideas that are novel and unique. At the same time, because their ideas are at odds with the current status quo, we’re drawn to their narratives because of either the Underdog Effect(e.g. when Apple is up against conglomerates like IBM) or the protagonist-antagonist dynamic of their vision(e.g. Elon Musk fighting against pollution and innovating beyond the public’s current perception of what’s possible).
Share relevant credentials that matter to your audience
Different audiences have various ways that they use to evaluate speakers on trustworthiness. Being aware of these early on will give you an edge in establishing trust with your audience.
For example, if you’re aware that your audience values globalized insights, having a slide that validates your experience in a global setting can help you develop a strong position of authority.
Hence if you’re speaking at a tech-related event, it might not be the best strategy to try to boost your credibility by boasting about your age via public speaking. Being prepared for the right context can make or break your presentation.
Only after establishing the needs in #1 should you “formally” introduce yourself or your company to make yourself relevant
3. Have genuine intent to add value to your audience
Remember that the presentation is never about you, it’s about your audience. It’s about what they want to achieve and how you can help them get there.
As such, it’s imperative that you find out as much about them as possible prior to developing your presentation and work towards adding value to them, instead of force-feeding them a solution that they don’t need.
The best way to do this is to put in a couple of extra hours to deliver timely, relevant content coupled with effective presentation design that’s obviously tailored to your audience.
Use examples that your audiences resonate with
Think back to when you were back in school, listening to your lecturer offer examples that didn’t interest you in the least bit. Similarly, if you were speaking to a group of millennials today, they would have specific areas of interest that you can take advantage of.
Referencing recent trending news and drawing relationships between what you’re speaking about and what they might find relevant is an easy way to build rapport quickly. If you’re talking about a business-related topic, try referencing popular companies like SnapChat or Instagram that they interact with on a daily basis. You can be sure they’ll sit up and listen if it hits close to home. That way, you’ll have their attention and appreciation for taking the time to put together relevant examples.
4. Have a process for execution
According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process. This makes it difficult for you to try and breeze through the sales conversation without any real substance.
In another study by Bain, 375 companies were asked if they believe they delivered a superior value proposition to clients. Eighty percent said yes. Bain then asked the clients of these actual companies if they agreed that the specific company that they bought from actually delivered this superior value proposition. You know what’s funny? Only eight percent agreed.
Buyers that need to make purchases quickly now rely on how believable you are rather than make logical comparisons on the actual value proposition.
For those that are selling a product or service, a great way to quickly establish trust to get you closer to buy-in is to detail a process of execution especially for sales presentations or investor presentations. Generally, when we’re buying anything in today’s age, we have unlimited access to information online to make comparisons that lead to an informed choice.
Showing that you or your company follows a repeatable process helps to put your buyer’s mind at ease. Instead of putting their trust in a single individual doing guesswork, they can now rely on a proven methodology or framework rather than just the words of the person they’re speaking to. In some cases, this is communicated at the end to conclude your presentation and to suggest next steps.
Whenever you’re in doubt as to whether your presentations will establish trust during your sales pitch or presentation, ask yourself if it fulfills these four criteria:
Have you ever faced a situation where you have invested time and effort into preparing a presentation for your client, but they are somehow just not convinced?
“How can I win them over?” you might wonder.
The New York Times bestseller, ‘Influence: The psychology of persuasion’ by Robert Cialdini shares six formulas in persuading your customers. Here’s a summary of how you can translate these ground-breaking persuasion techniques into a more persuasive presentation by design.
Think about the latest blockbuster film you’ve watched recently. Got it? Awesome. Now think about why you paid attention to it in the first place.
It’s likely that you saw the countless recurring trailer ads on YouTube or heard your friends talking about the movie. Maybe you were interested in it, yet unsure if it was worth the watch.
What most people do next is to switch over to Google and start searching for some reviews. That’s where you’ll find polarizing sentiments on whether a movie was a blockbuster hit or miss. Did it influence your decision on whether the movie was worth it? Well, that’s social proof in action.
Life is too complicated for us to evaluate every element during decision-making, so we use shortcuts to help us decide on what’s reliable in a snap. To explore the power of social proof, social psychologists conducted an experiment in 1968.
First, they stationed a single person on a street corner and had him look up at an empty sky for 60 seconds. Only a tiny fraction of passers-by stopped to observe the man and his actions.
The following day, the psychologists added four more people staring into the sky and this time, there were four times the initial number of people who stopped to gaze at the empty sky. At the end of the experiment when 15 sky-starers were placed on a street corner, more than 80% of passers-by stopped to look at the empty sky. From this experiment, it was observed that people have the tendency to make an assumption – if many people are doing something or sharing a common belief, there must be a good reason why.
Presentation tip: Applying the theory, including positive reviews and testimonials from your customers in your presentations gives you an advantage in winning your audience over. It leaves the impression that many have enjoyed your service or product, hence your audience would be more inclined to what you have to say.
Having star-studded endorsements from your clients makes your presentation much more credible and trustworthy. Ultimately, it funnels down to a simple concept: The more people do something, the safer the option would seem.
When doing so, remember to make it tie in with your overall message seamlessly. Don’t make it seem too desperate or egotistical – your audience will not be as impressed by that.
“Reciprocity is a part of every society,” Cialdini says. A classic experiment from the 1970s found that people bought twice as many raffle tickets from a stranger if he first gave them a can of Coke — this is proof that even tiny favours can work to your advantage. Likewise, your buddy is more likely to help you move that couch if you’ve ever given him a ride to the airport.
When we were growing up, we were conditioned to give back to those who give to us, and not doing so would make us feel uncomfortably rude. Applying this concept, we can instill a sense of obligation within our audience by giving a simple gift that will cause them to feel indebted towards us. This increases the chances of the audience complying with your request.
Presentation tip: Say you’re pitching to an investor about your latest business idea. Providing him with a sample of your product would not only make your pitch much more memorable but also help him absorb your pitch better. Additionally, giving him a physical gift in the form of your sample instills a sense of indebtedness towards you. In essence, your gift of a free sample may not cost you a lot but can invoke reciprocative action from your prospect.
3.Commitment and Consistency
The hardest part of all is getting your audience to say yes. Invented in 1966 by Freedman and Fraser. The “foot in the door” technique gets your audience to agree to a small request first, before, slowly making your way towards a bigger idea, which they will eventually find harder to refuse.
Evidentially, in a research study by Sherman in 1980, she called residents in Indiana and asked them if, hypothetically, they would volunteer for the American Cancer Society. Three days after, a second experimenter called the same residence and there was an increase in 4% as compared to the first day.
When your audience complies with your small yet reasonable requests, it makes them more receptive towards the larger request afterward.
Presentation tip: For example, if you’re proposing a new campaign to your bosses, start off by getting them to agree on something small, such as the campaign idea or tagline. Ask for buy-in at different junctures of the presentation, then follow up with something bigger such as the venue and lastly, the budget. This greatly increases your chances of gaining approval for the overall project. An important pointer to take note of is that you have to get their agreement in all the segments for this to work.
Using this tactic helps you to convince your audiences as well as gain their approval, leaving you with hardly any objections to your proposal. After all, if people commit to an idea or goal, it is likely that they would stand by their commitments.
Doctors are great examples of everyday authority figures we encounter. Think about it. Do you ever question the medicine that they prescribe you?
If you know what’s good for you, you’ll pay close attention to their diagnosis and heed their advice.
We’ve been conditioned to listen and be more easily influenced by people whom we consider to be authorities and the symbols that they carry.
Just like our everyday authority figures, you want to seen as the expert in your respective field.
Having confidence and the trustworthiness of your content is essential in invoking authority. Being an authority figure reflects your expertise in your idea or topic, and gives you the credibility which persuades your audience that you are the right guy to turn to in the sector. For example, think of the most prolific motivational speaker you know. 9 out of 10 times, Tony Robbins comes to mind. He’s perceived to be the expert in his industry and for that same reason, people part with thousands of dollars during his presentations because they trust him and his words.
Presentation tip: To portray confidence as an authority figure during your presentation, you first have to believe in what you are pitching. It is essential to be sure of what you are preaching and keep your nervousness at bay. The outfit that you are wearing and your postures can say a lot about you and how prepared you are. Interestingly, confidence is not something you can just manufacture. It’s a combination of many little things, from the way you dress to the way you give eye contact to people.
The second factor is the credentials or titles that you hold. In order to prove your credibility, introducing yourself as the Founder, CEO or even (Dr.) would make you seem like you have the expertise and power in your field. There are two ways in which we can go about doing this.
Presentation tip: Firstly, it could be having someone else to introduce you and your past experiences. Amateurs often rely on superficial cues, but having a title would instantly boost your dependability on the topic or idea. The second method is to introduce yourself. Simply having 1 or 2 slides about you before your pitch would do the same trick. The chances of your audience being persuaded by your presentation with the use of credentials will increase due to the perception of your reliability.
Here is a link that shows how President John Hennessy introduced Steve Jobs in a Stanford Commencement Address.
Presentation tip: Lastly, you need to appear knowledgeable, competent and certain when communicating your ideas. Having information and statistics to back up your assertions shows that you are certain of your pitch. It increases your perceived trustworthiness on the topic and makes it much easier for you to influence your audience.
Authority is displayed through your confidence, credentials, and competence in presentations. These three factors contribute directly towards persuading your audience, as you are seen as someone who understands the topic intimately.
People often append a higher value to scarce things than those that are more abundant. What do I mean by that?
“Limited stocks available, get yours now!” Does this ring a bell?
If your answer is “yes”, then you have encountered one of the most common phrases of scarcity in your life.
Generally speaking, people are loss-averse creatures, we are more likely to take action when we are aware of what we will lose as opposed to what we can gain.
This tactic leverages on the visceral sense of urgency which scarcity creates. When trying to sell at the end of a presentation, try offering a discount only for a short period of time. It’s likely you’ll notice prospects who were on-the-fence suddenly spring to life to act on your offer.
Presentation tip: For example: during your presentation, you may want to emphasize that the offer made will only last for a certain period of time. Seasonal holidays such as Christmas or New Year’s special can be used to “justify” your limited time offer. Even memorable events such as company anniversaries can have the same effect. With the notion of time running out, it invokes a sense of urgency for fear of losing out on the better deal.
It can also be done by pitching your presentation as an exclusive business which only a few have the opportunity to work with. For instance, limited products available.
Presentation tip: By highlighting the limited amount of stocks available, it persuades your audience to take action now. Ultimately, it rides on a simple psychology effect that things are more valuable when they are less available. This puts pressure on them to get theirs before everything runs out. Eventually, you are encouraging your audience to take action now rather than tomorrow.
With almost anything in life, we prefer doing it with people we like and enjoy being around with. The same concept applies when we’re doing business. More often than naught, clients are more inclined to work with someone they have positive feelings toward versus a stranger. So how can you get your clients to like you more? Here are 3 different aspects of the liking principle which you can use in your next presentation.
Let’s be honest here, we all enjoy compliments, even if it is as simple as praising an outfit or receiving an award. By complimenting others, it will naturally make them like you more and helps you get into their good books while remembering you. Don’t forget to make it seem natural – avoid anything that appears too forced.
Presentation tip: A simple way that you can compliment your audience: “it is an honor to be here today, and thank you for taking your time to travel here for this presentation.” This makes them feel important and connects you instantly to the audience.
Ever wondered why people with the same music taste seem to have a natural connection? Having commonalities during your presentation helps you to build a bridge of comfortability between you and your audience. Sharing the same preference over something allows for the creation of an instant connection with your audience. It helps them to relate to you and your presentation and gains their interest in the topic you’re covering.
Establishing similarities can be done by building rapport before the presentation starts. Get to know your audience and use it to your advantage. It could be as simple as having similar sports interests or travel experiences. These common similarities will help you get them interested in the topic you’re covering.
Presentation tip: With the help of your new-found knowledge, you can insert a story or experience at the start of the presentation that is relevant to your audience’s interest. After all, we tend to be much keener and attentive towards people who have the same preferences.
Have confidence, prepare your credentials and know your topic well
Gather positive testimonials or reviews
Provide tangible gifts
Create scarcity through limited time or stocks
Leverage on similarities and give compliments
Get them to agree on something small first
Presentations that persuade effectively can be really tough to craft, but with these six persuasion techniques, you are now equipped with the skillsets and some new presentation ideas to convince your audience. All the best and don’t forget to smile!
You know you have to give a presentation. You cringe just thinking about it. Between coming up with a unique way to present your information, engaging your audience, and keeping yourself engaged, it’s enough to make you scream. Not to mention that sometimes all the knowledge you’ve garnered from presentation courses previously might seem to not give you enough of an edge in such circumstances.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can supplement your presentation with various branding tools to make it more exciting for both you and the audience.
After all, the whole point is to make sure the audience learns and retains the information you present to them.
Furthermore, these branding tools are very useful if you want to build a strong brand identity. These tools are an extremely important factor since it can help build your reputation, make you stand out from your competition and project your values and unique selling propositions (USPs) which help to attract future prospects.
Hence, check out these 5 branding tools to give your presentation a boost!
A great way to open your presentation is with a video, and you can use it to introduce the audience to your brand. Include your logo at both the beginning and end, and incorporate your color scheme and typography throughout.
Do keep it short, as you still have a presentation that will follow up. You can consider using catchy music to keep the audience engaged. In addition, include imagery that illustrates the points you plan to discuss and appeals to the audience in a way a simple slideshow might not. This will help you build an emotional bond with them. If you aren’t confident in your ability to make a high-quality clip, work with an expert to edit your video and add other post-production elements to make it stand out.
Just like the video, you should design your slideshow to match your branding, including colors, typography, imagery, and logos. Keep your presentation to three key points so that it doesn’t become too lengthy, and your audience will have an easier time remembering your topics.
Remember, the slideshow is a supplement of your presentation, so do not read directly from the slides. This will put your audience on the fast track towards boredom (you may even see them fall asleep)! Instead of using it as a substitute for your notes, the slideshow should help tell your story or highlight facts and figures. Be creative and keep it simple.
3. Brochures and Infographics
It’s easy to direct the audience to your website and social media, but it’ll be good to send them home with something too. A professionally designed brochure will help build credibility with your audience and illustrate your key points. Be sure to use images and charts to break up the text and make it easier to follow.
Your brochure should pique audience members’ interest in your products or services. It also has a longer shelf life than the other elements of your presentation as the audience can take it home and use it as reference material. Leave a few extra behind for people who might have missed the presentation.
Alternatively, if you prefer keeping things digital, you can create an infographic that the audience can refer to after the presentation has ended. A good infographic design should contain the main elements of your presentation or summarize the information in key points. You can distribute it via email if your audience registered their attendance, or place a link to it in your slides.
Another way to get the audience’s attention is to bring along a mascot. Of course, this does not work for every business and is more effective for industries that are less serious. However, if your brand allows for it, a professional in a fun, colorful suit is a great way to get audiences excited.
A mascot will not only break up the monotony of your presentation, it’ll also help create more brand awareness. You’ll probably want to wait till you approach the end of your presentation to bring out the mascot, and make sure it can help illustrate one of your key points. Otherwise, it could be more of a distraction and end up backfiring.
Mascots add a fun element to your presentation while making your brand as a whole more personable. The audience can hang around after the presentation for photos with the mascot, which could create a buzz on social media and get you more followers.
An effective way to engage your audience is to have a competition with the promise of prizes at the end. Create a three-question quiz to reward the people who paid attention. Alternatively, include a few special Easter Eggs throughout your slides that audience members can keep a lookout for, and award prizes at the end. You could even have your mascot hand them out!
As for the prizes themselves, this is where your brand comes in. Giving out items such as custom T-shirts, tote bags and keychains with your logo and colors on them will build more brand awareness when the winners take your swag out and put it to use. You can also include gift cards or coupons for your products or services.
Developing a presentation can be rough. You want to make sure your audiences walk away with more knowledge about your products or services and hope that they are as excited about it as you are.
Coming up with ways to get your points across and integrate your brand without giving the impression of a sleazy salesman is the hardest part. Using some of these tools will help you create an exciting experience for your audience, and make you feel like you’ve knocked it out of the park.
Do you have other cool branding tools to boost your presentations? Let us know what they are in the comments below!
If you want a plant to grow, you would never just stick a seed into the dirt and hope for the best. Plants also need water, sunlight—maybe even a bit of conversation if you’re feeling quirky.
It’s the same with creating presentations for your business. You can’t just focus on one single thing, ignoring the big picture, and expect the company to grow.
Delivering a presentation is one of the most essential and fundamental methods of cultivating your business. But there’s more to creating a great business presentation than just including all of your most persuasive statistics and testimonials.
If you really want to attract clients, you have to consider every single aspect of the presentation—both on the screen and off.
With that in mind, here are 4 simple presentation tips you can use to help your business flourish to its full potential.
1. Consider Your Audience
Before you even begin writing your presentation, go over any relevant prospect data or market research about your audience that you have access to. Who are they, and why specifically might they use your product or service? Be sure to tailor your presentation specifically for them.
For instance, if your company specializes in cookware and you were presenting to a group of restaurant owners, they would most likely want to hear about how your products can be best used in a restaurant’s kitchen.
You wouldn’t present those products in the same way to an organization of outdoor enthusiasts; they’d be more interested in how the cookware could be used on a camping trip.
Trim your presentation down to the elements that will be most relevant to the people you’re speaking to. This way, you’ll get higher engagement and it’ll be much easier to ask for a sale or action.
2. Don’t Skimp on Visual Design
Seeing people use the same old PowerPoint themes over and over is enough to make me cringe. A premade template is a fine place to start, but if you want your slides to stand out, you have to add your own personal touches to make them fresh and original. Imagine going into a venture capitalist meeting with your investor pitch deck wholly made from a default template.
Pick out a color scheme that complements your brand; a few contrasting colors are usually pleasing to the eye. Use plenty of white space so that your slides won’t appear cluttered and difficult to digest.
There are a couple of ways to quickly get your presentation looking great:
a) Using Photos
A good photograph can go a long way; don’t rely too much on text. When you’re looking for photos, try to stay away from ones featuring subjects who are obviously posed in an unnatural way; these can make your presentation feel cheesy and artificial. Not sure where to look? Check out our compilation of 33 free stock photo sites for your next presentation.
b) Using non-default fonts
We’ve all been to presentations where Arial, Times New Roman and Comic Sans (blech) make their constant appearances. If allowed at your workplace, why not try some non-default fonts? Head over to fontsquirrel.com where you’ll find commercially available non-default fonts that you can use for your next presentation without any legal consequence!
Picking a couple of fonts that stand out for headings will give your presentations that extra pizazz as well as help it stand out in a sea of sameness if you’re at a conference presenting along with other speakers.
Sometimes audiences engage better with information if they have something tangible they can hold in their hands. Printed handouts are an excellent way to capitalize on this, especially when you’re explaining a particularly complicated subject.
One tactic is to have a printed copy of your digital presentation that audience members can take home with them. This acts as a lasting reminder of your business (especially if you use binders custom printed with your logo) and gives prospects a visual aid that will help them explain your concepts to others later. You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to
You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to explain them after the presentation is over. Adapt your presentation into a format that your audience can easily comprehend on their own. A great way to do this is to create your own handouts that don’t necessarily repeat what’s on the slide, but instead adds depth and elaboration on the pointers that you make within your presentation.
Alternatively, you could create binders full of materials that supplement your points and hand them out before the presentation starts for corporate settings. Just be careful with this strategy; you don’t want people looking down at a binder when they should be focused on you and your words. Don’t overload the recipient with text; stick to simple visual aids that reinforce the things you’re saying.
4. Don’t Just Talk, Listen
The worst thing you can do in a presentation is read off your slides word-for-word without ever actually engaging with your audience. The most effective presentations aren’t lectures where you simply dictate information—they’re conversations where you tell your audience a story and respond directly to their questions and concerns.
This doesn’t mean you should tolerate audience members constantly interrupting you with irrelevant comments, or force them to hold off all of their questions until you’re finished speaking.
Even better, consider asking them questions as part of your presentation. Their answers might give you better insight into the direction your presentation should go and you’ll be able to engage with them on a deeper level.
Rather than just talking at them, you’ll be talking with them.
Keep these 4 handy strategies in mind, and your next business presentation will be a hit!
Do you have more tips for creating a solid presentation that will attract business? Let us know in the comments below!
In our line of work, we hear different words being thrown around all the time. Whether it’s slides, slide-pack, presentation decks, PowerPoint slides… It looks easy to do, but to really take it to the next level? Not so much.
Yet more often than not, executives are tasked with developing quality presentation slides quickly and then find themselves stuck, wanting the presentation to leave the audience visually enthralled, yet racing against a looming deadline.
If you’ve got your presentation’s story and structure locked down, great. The next hurdle is to buff up (or in this case, simplify) your slides.
Here’s the thing. The biggest problem that executives face when it comes to putting a presentation slide deck together is: Trying too hard to do too much. Worse, because most us aren’t visually inclined, the challenge is compounded.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of 5 simple techniques you can use to have your audience’s eyes glued to the screen each time you press the button on your clicker. Leave your colleagues jealous…even if you’re a beginner with no design experience.
Tip #1: Select a Few Contrasting Colors for Your Presentation
Too many colours on a slide deck can be confusing, and may even end up being a distraction. Avoid trying to turn your slide into something that resembles a rainbow – that’s when you’ll know you’re on the wrong track.
By picking fewer colors, your slides will be less cluttered, and you’ll be able to bring across clearer messages enhanced with visuals that aren’t buried under Skittles!
It’s fair to say that most people aren’t really that good at picking colors anyway. The best way I’ve found to teach beginners to do this is to start from one of these areas:
a) Use your company’s corporate colors
Certain organizations have strict brand guidelines and colors to choose from, but this may not always be a limitation. Using these colors ensure that you’re on-brand, and the color palette is usually kept to only a few colors.
If you don’t have a guideline in your company, an easy way to create a palette is to pick colors directly from your company’s logo. If the logos are designed well, most of the time the colors should contrast really well on both light and dark backgrounds.
b) Trawl the internet for color palettes
When in doubt, the Internet is your friend. Visiting sites like Behance or Dribbble lets you find plenty of good work from some of the world’s best designers. My tip is to not endeavour to do anything close to that, as it will take up a lot of your time (which you probably will not have). Instead, pay attention to the colors they use, and let it serve as your inspiration.
Notice the background and foreground colors that they’re using, and try those out for yourself. Or if you run out of ideas, our friends at Venngage put together a post on 101 different presentation ideas to help you get started.
c) Decide on an accent and a neutral color
Notwithstanding all the advice so far, the rule of thumb here is to just decide on a single ‘accent’ color (which is anything other than white, black, grey or brown) as well as a neutral color (white or dark grey). This is also known as a monochromatic scheme – not like the name really matters, right?
With that alone, you’ll suddenly have ease of access to an array of simple combinations to use on your presentation.
In summary, if you have guidelines internally, use those. If not, pick your own colors, but always try to stick to a single accent and a neutral color to make life easier for yourself.
Tip #2. Less Text On Your Slide
Another thing that’s pretty common in corporate presentations is text vomit (this isn’t actually an official word), and by that, I mean: Too many words that can be verbalized.
If your presentation is going to be delivered live by you or someone else, you don’t always need all the words up there. As long as the messaging is clear enough, you’re good to go.
This might fall more into the realm of effective storytelling, but it’ll make all the difference when you start designing your slides. This is simply because you can only do so much to enhance what’s already broken, or in this case, overwhelmingly cluttered.
Here are some quick ways to reduce your word count:
a) Reduce text in bullets and headlines
Here’s a quick example, if you had a sentence like: “Singapore’s housing prices are at all-time highs, making it difficult to afford for graduates who intend to get married at a younger age. This results in delayed marriages.”
Try to do your pointers in ‘mini-headline’ forms like: “Singaporean graduates delay marriage due to high housing prices” This example isn’t a whole lot shorter, but it helps to make the message you want to get across as succinct as possible – if you want to elaborate further, do it verbally.
b) Convert text to visuals
Visuals are processed 50,000 times faster than text. Just look at the symbols below:
You don’t need text to tell you what those are because visuals have implicit meanings attached to them. Use this to your advantage by shortening your paragraphs and headlines by replacing them with visuals. Here’s an example:
If you convert some of the wordings into visuals and verbalize the text instead, you’ll get:
They key is not to replace everything with visuals, but to reduce as much as you can while ensuring that the message does not lose its essence. Some questions to ask yourself after you simplify are:
Does my main point still come across adequately?
Can the nuances here be understood with visuals instead?
Will people get confused?
Based on the answers, you can decide whether to replace a paragraph of text with a visual. By reducing the text on your slide – you instantly get a better-looking presentation overall even if you haven’t yet touched on the design and aesthetic aspects.
Tip #3. Proven Layouts and The Rule Of Thirds
If this isn’t your first article on presentation design, you might have heard about the rule of thirds before. I’ve written about this extensively in other articles but I think it’s important to mention it again below to give you the full picture.
The goal should always be to get your presentation done efficiently and effectively. With proven layouts and guides like the rule of thirds, you’ll get it right every time without too much guesswork.
Take a look at these 3 slides below – they all look pretty different, but actually follow the same grid layout:
This is not by chance; if you build good layouts from the get-go, you’ll be able to copy-paste them into new decks whenever you make them.
A simple way to get used to grid layouts is to split your slide into equal parts like thirds, halves or quarters. That way, you’ll always know how much space or slide real-estate you have to play around with. If you’re unsure of where to place your photo, you’ll know once you find empty spaces that require balancing.
As you go along following these layouts, building them for presentations will start to become second-nature, and you’ll know instinctively where to layer elements when appropriate.
Another quick way to look like a ‘pro’ without too much effort is to use full-bleed imagery wherever possible – you might have seen this used by more notable presenters such as Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, where they use high-resolution evocative photography to enhance their presentations.
Using the rule of thirds, you’ll almost always know where to place text when using full-bleed backgrounds. Basically, insert your text or any other element into the empty space where the lines intersect. Instantly, you’ll get a decent looking slide that looks way better than anything the rest of your colleagues can put together in a minute.
The only instance that might be challenging is when you have a busy image that does not have sufficient contrast to ensure your text can be seen. The fix for that, however, is pretty straightforward: Add either a gradient or solid fill shape – this can be done with a couple of clicks on Keynote or PowerPoint.
Many resources online, including some of our SlideShare content on presentations tout using custom fonts for your presentations – basically ones that aren’t installed by default on your machines.
If you have the prerogative to do that, awesome. There are plenty of great sites that offer really high-quality fonts that you can use in your presentations: Font Squirrel, LostType, f just to name a few. Using large san-serif fonts will help you get your message across boldly and sometimes, the beauty of the typefaces alone are enough to constitute the whole slide.
Problem is, if you can’t use your own personal computer when presenting, or you have strict corporate guidelines on the use of non-default fonts, you’ll be back to square one. How does one get past this?
Designers that work heavily with fonts use these terms to describe the space between them: tracking, leading and kerning. Respectively, these represent the horizontal spaces between letters in a sentence, vertical space between paragraph lines and space between single characters.
The only thing that you need to worry about is the tracking – which known to few is controllable in PowerPoint and Keynote but makes a huge difference to how your drabby old default fonts look:
For sentence-cased fonts, reducing the space between the letters makes them more aesthetically pleasing at larger sizes and the best thing is it only takes 2 clicks to do this!
If you have words in all-caps for fonts like Century Gothic, you can even try to space them out wider to have a really clean, premium style for your headings.
It’s a really quick trick that we use a lot in our business, and I’m sure that this one simple tweak will help you make a big impact.
Tip #5. Using Gradients
Here’s where it’ll start to get a little technical. It’s one of my personal best-kept secrets when we design presentation decks, but it is slightly more difficult to execute.
Gradients have long been a feature in presentation software such as PowerPoint and Keynote, but in my opinion, it’s been grossly under-utilized. Here are a number of ways you can easily start using gradients to boost your presentation slides easily:
a) Using a gradient background
Don’t you just hate seeing that plain, white slide with the placeholder ‘Click to add text’ on it? A quick way to give your slides an extra punch of sophistication is to add a radial gradient as a background – lighter center, darker edges.
That way, if you have any headlines or images in the center, the focus is literally ‘drawn in’ to whatever is placed there. At the same time, it leaves your background looking less monotonous than just a solid color.
Once done, just place it in your ‘Master Slides’ and all your newly created slides will sport the same background! Neat, right?
b) Use gradient boxes to frame text
As mentioned earlier in Tip #3, when your text can’t be seen on a busy background, adding a shape behind it can work great.
If you’re looking to have a more subtle shape, using a gradient is a great way to have contrast but not have it steal the attention from the background image.
Simply select one of the color anchors and turn it to 0% opacity, this creates an effect where the gradient gradually becomes transparent from your first color. This way you get legibility without sacrificing the background image.
c) Light to dark gradient shapes
Flat solid shapes in your presentations can look dull after awhile. Using different shades of gradients in your shapes can add that extra bit of interest and also be used to draw the eye to different parts of your slide.
As mentioned earlier, if you keep gradients within the same color but different shapes (monochromatic style), it’ll naturally look good without too much guess-work.
I’ve just given you 5 quick ways to look like a pro in presentation design drawn from our experiences working with our clients.
Did I miss anything out? Leave us a comment below to let us know!