Through Individual Development Plans (IDPs), Ecosystems offers employees the opportunity to get connected with a professional mentor who can help each of us grow in our respective career fields. In my role as an Enablement Specialist, I’m required to deliver presentations about our solutions to clients on a daily basis. As part of my IDP, knowing that giving business presentations is a skill that I could improve on, I decided to take advantage of this great opportunity by asking our CEO, Chad Quinn, if he could connect me with someone in his network who specializes in helping others build and deliver effective business presentations.
From there, Chad introduced me to his friend Sarah Saunders who is the President of her own presentation coaching and content marketing firm called Power2Persuade. Sarah’s company specializes in helping “non-profits and commercial businesses build engaging, profitable connections with prospects, clients, and key stakeholders through the power of great storytelling.” I had my first conversation with Sarah on October 19th, and from this meeting, I was able to obtain a great deal of insight into how to prepare and deliver an effective business presentation.
Prior to our first meeting, Sarah had recommended that I begin reading Presenting to Win, a book written by Jerry Weissman, the ‘world’s leading corporate presentations coach.’ Sarah has found Weisman’s book to be a very valuable resource for coaching her clients over the years. In addition to reading Weissman’s book, Sarah provided me with a LinkedIn blog post she had recently written describing some of the techniques she uses to help her clients deliver effective business presentations. I’ve found both resources to be very beneficial in my own personal development and it also helped frame my initial conversation with Sarah to be a very productive one.
One of the most memorable and helpful pieces of advice Sarah gave me, is to think about how I can use the skills from my theater training to connect and build relationships with audiences through good storytelling. In fact, there are strong similarities between the processes for how one prepares to give a business presentation and how one prepares for an acting performance. In both methodologies, I learned that the steps of doing quality research, brainstorming, performance development, and repetitive practice, are all common key ingredients for fashioning a successful business presentation and for perfecting the type of character an actor wishes to portray on-stage.
Also, whether you’re preparing to give a business presentation or deliver an acting performance, you must know and understand the type of audience to whom you’ll be presenting. As Sarah mentioned in our conversation, in both cases, “if you fail to understand your audience and their motivations, then you cannot expect to effectively persuade your audience to achieve your presentation’s goals.”
Sarah also emphasized that the key to any effective presentation is developing and presenting a good story that’s easy for your audience to follow. Again, it’s only through quality research, quality preparation, and making a conscious effort to really understand your audience that leads to a strong, easy-to-follow story in your presentation for your audience. Once you’ve been able to proficiently do this, it makes it much easier for your audience to be convinced of your presentation’s “call to action” message.
My first meeting with Sarah was a huge success. Since Sarah agreed to serve as my mentor by helping me build and develop my business presentation skills, I will be meeting with her at least once per quarter to continue my ongoing training. If you’ve not already done so, I highly encourage you to find and connect with an experienced professional who can help you grow and develop in your field. Based on my first experience with an Ecosystems mentor, I can honestly say it will really help you become more confident and proficient in your career.