Presentations that rock: How to wow potential clients and keep nerves to a minimum

It’s often said that people dread public speaking more than anything in the world, and it’s certainly a challenge for anyone not comfortable up in front of an audience.

But talking to groups can be a keystone to building your business as an independent travel advisor, whether it’s a small gardening club or 200 Rotarians. Here are some tips to make yours rock:

1. Planning is key. Take the amount of time you have and devote two-thirds of it to yourself and one-third to audience questions. Break your time into: introduction; explanation; selling features; and how to book. And rehearse – out loud.

2. If possible, have someone else introduce you. This ‘warms up’ the audience and as you’ll be providing  your own biography  to be read out, your achievements can be listed in full without it sounding boastful!

3. Of course you’ll have notes but try not to have a speech you’ll read word for word. Think of how President Barack Obama speaks. Have a list of your trigger points. To promote, say, European River Cruising, these trigger points might be:

. River cruising growth

. How different from big ships

. Itineraries

. Special offers – EBBs

It may help to print out your notes in big font (24 point). That way you can glance at them and not seem to be so obviously reading.

4. Read your audience. If they’re shifting in their seats, yawning or whispering, the presentation isn’t working. Diplomatically ditch the notes and ask them what they’d like to learn from you. And don’t be afraid to move around the room. It’ll energize you and give you the chance to make all-important eye contact with the audience.

5. A friend recently went to a talk about Venice and two minutes into the presentation, a lady in the back raised her hand and piped up “What about sewage?” Hardly a great way to start the show! So leave the questions to the end.  That way you won’t get distracted and off topic, and/or audience members won’t be annoyed by others hogging your time.

Next time, I’ll address the plusses (and pitfalls) of Powerpoint.