Presentations occur for many different reasons including bid presentations, educational presentations for thought leadership and content marketing, and informal presentations within the office. Most presenters feel thrown into speaking, and many do not realize the value presentations have on their personal brand. Regardless if you volunteered or were volunteered, your presentation means you are representing both yourself and the company where you work. Presentations are a demonstration of your brand; it’s the first impression of your brand and demonstrates your expertise. People now recognize the term brand, but they generally associate brands only with companies and products. People are brands too, including you and you need to know what is involved in the presenter’s brand.
Let’s start with what is a brand. A brand is what people perceive of a company or product. It is a collection of experiences with that company, product, or person that creates these perceptions. People use their experiences with you to create what they think of your brand. When you are speaking, you want to make sure you are you. You probably want to dress up, where a business suit or dress is apropos, make sure it is still you. If you pretend to be something or someone else, you are changing your brand. Look at Steve Jobs when he presented. He traditionally wore a black turtleneck and jeans; that outfit was part of his image, not a suit and tie. (Same for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg’s wardrobe, including his trademark hoodie.)
Many brand strategists will explain that a brand is not what your logo looks like, but it’s what people feel when they think of your company, which includes when they see your logo. For example, I may believe that the best family night out is at Cold Stone Creamery. It’s natural to include how the employees treated me like royalty, how the restaurant smelled like yummy ice cream, the cleanliness of the parking lot, and how all of that contributed to the best night out for my family. You have different experiences with Cold Stone and other ice cream parlors (or be lactose intolerant), so your perception of this brand is, of course, different. The same holds true for the presenter’s brand.
Since presentations are often the first impression you can give of your brand, it’s important to make a good one. If you know anything about first impressions, they stick and are hard to overcome if negative experience.
Each time you present, your audience gets to experience your firm’s and your personal brand. Many of my clients get clients from presenting, sometimes years later, and each time the prospect acts if they already know my client because of that presentation. They have a connection with that speaker, even when they were one of 100+ people in attendance. [My clients are not the only ones getting business from presentations. Check out my post on presentation ROI to learn just how effective speaking engagements and webinars are to your company’s marketing efforts and bottom line.]
Not all speaking engagements are for prospective clients though; many presentations are internal. This internal communication is often the glue that holds companies together and makes them profitable. Talking is a part of our everyday jobs and, like it or not, we are required to give formal speeches for different occasions.
Whether you speak to groups of people or individuals, talking is a necessary part of any job. The average American spends at least 30% of waking hours talking (and up to 80% communicating). Presentations are often the chance to show off a product, your company, and let your audience get to know you. People hire who they like and they like who they can relate to best. The additional benefit of being in front of people physically is that your audience witnesses your passion and gestures firsthand, and these elements connect you to them.
When it comes to bid presentations, most prospective clients want to see the project team and the technical staff, those who work on their projects, do the presentations. These are the people the prospect will be working with day-to-day for months or years even. They care more about this technical team much more than who is the business developer, owner, or company executive. The technical staff generally works behind the scenes for a reason–presentations don’t come easily to them. Clients know that and do not expect an engineer or construction superintendent to entertain them like a comedian, and they don’t expect a polished TED Talk. However, they expect the presenters to be confident in their skills, relatable, and genuine. Showcasing the presenter’s brand and the firm’s brand is vital in bid presentations.
Putting your best foot forward and showcasing the best brand possible, does not happen overnight. I am not sharing the impact a presentation has to your brand to scare you, but many people take the personal aspect out of speaking and think of it as black-and-white facts when it is the complete opposite. The facts are in the proposals and books. The benefit of speaking is the ability to share one’s feelings and expertise. You can influence and inspire others with your message.
Also, speaking does not need to be the most terrifying experience of your life! Preparation is one of the best cures for stage fright and other anxieties. It works because if you are prepared and confident with your presentation, and you can concentrate on your audience instead of what to say next. When you’re confident about your presentation and abilities, you can project a confident presenter brand.
- Get my FREE guide, 6 Presentation Strategies to Increase Your Closing Rate 20%!
- Learn more about how my self-guided presentation training curriculum, SpeakU, can help you dramatically increase your effectiveness when speaking and close more deals.
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How Speak Simple Can Help You
Speak Simple helps teams too! Whether it is coaching a team of technicals to win the big bid presentation or training professionals to share their expertise in educational, thought leadership presentations. Learn more about how Speak Simple can help your firm win more work and increase your billing rate.