Do you feel nervous before presenting? Do the nerves affect you performance? Are they stopping you from progressing in your career or business? Would you like to feel more confident about speaking in public?
The first step is to ask yourself: are nerves always a bad thing?
Do you think the professionals get nervous? You bet they do. And those nerves are good— they drive us to prepare well, they drive us to focus and they give us energy on the day. If you’re too relaxed, you probably aren’t giving it the focus it needs. However there is a problem if these nerves become limiting.
So here are nine ways to overcome nerves and ensure you give a great performance:
1. Remember nerves are normal. If you feel nervous then you are human. Revel in it and read on to find out what to do with them.
2. How do the nerves manifest themselves for you? For most people it is normally a fear of forgetting what they are going to say, or falling over, or people laughing at them. These thoughts make it worse and it is a downward spiral.
Stop these thoughts and instead think: “how much value can I give to my audience?”, “how can I make it fun for my audience?” or ask “how could this be fun for me?”.
3. You are there to give the audience a gift, a gift of your experience, knowledge and expertise.
4. If you get the opportunity beforehand, then chat to the audience. It will feel more like you are talking to a group of friends as opposed to strangers.
5. The best antidote to nerves is to do it regularly. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become with it, so practice, practice, practice.
6. Remember that they want you to succeed. No-one in the audience is thinking “I hope this guy is rubbish, I hope I don’t enjoy it!”.
7. Deliver the talk in front of a friendly audience to start with and get comfortable with it. Then when you go to a new audience you will feel better about it. Don’t test a new speech on a new audience.
8. Before you start to present take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly. Try breathing in for three, holding for nine and then out for six. Repeat four or five times.
9. Instead of asking yourself, “how am I going to remember all of this?” or “what if they hate it?” ask better questions like: “how can I make this fun for the audience?” or “which bit of my presentation are they going to enjoy the most?”.
By following these simple tips you can easily reduce your nerves so they become an asset not a hindrance.
Alan Donegan is from Toastmasters International.
Social media has the potential to build brands, get people talking, and bring in business leads. And it moves fast. Here are three new social media developments and how you can use them to boost your business.
A lot of people I meet tell me: “I’m on Twitter but I don’t really get it.” If that’s you, the microblogging site is a concise way to share news, opinions and links, contributing to a constant stream of information. By following appropriate people, you build an engaged mini-community with specific interests, for example this network of local foodies. Now Twitter has launched Vine — an app that allows you to share micro videos on social media sites.
Vine is the new six-second video app for Twitter. Instead of being limited to text, you can use moving images to showcase a new product, create a comical sketch that people will want to share, or even show your team in action, adding a friendly face to your business. For instance, Bacardi has posted a video on Vine showing you how to make a mojito.
We’re not sure if this one is here to stay or not, but Twitter has introduced the ability to space out your 140-character messages on Twitter, paving the way for messages with line breaks and bullet points.
In a crowded and fast-moving stream like Twitter, anything that helps your message to stand out is a good thing. That being said, my advice is to use it sparingly. Overuse of gimmicky features can turn your audience off quicker than you could say #fail.
The recent news that the biggest social network (Facebook) is about to steal a key feature from the second biggest social network (Twitter) caused a bit of a flurry and has even spawned protest groups. We’re talking hashtags.
Hashtags are a good way to encourage and take part in conversation around your product or industry. If, for example, you’re at a trade show, tweeting with the hashtag is a way of getting your message in front of those interested in or attending this event.
Facebook — traditionally more of a friends-and-family network — is trying to get in on this open conversation aspect of Twitter. If it works well, this could be yet another channel to make your voice heard and reach potential customers.
Ahmed Ahmed works at Zoober Digital Training
Find out more about Vine in our article, Six reasons why you should be using Vine.
Most salespeople will get the majority of the specification down, but some have to call back a second time to get things they forgot, or that their colleagues tell them will be needed in order to produce an accurate quotation or proposal. You can imagine the impact this has on the prospect. If you’re in a competitive market with other people pitching for the work, you’ve put yourself on the back foot before you’ve even started.
These two areas are essential areas to investigate in every sales opportunity — you need to establish early on in your sales conversation how serious they are, and how serious the project is. Even more important however is getting the “why you” bit answered. The aim here is to uncover both the buying motivation, and also what chance you have of picking up this business. Remember, the fluffier the answers to the questions you ask here, the less likely you are to win the work!
Failure to establish the decision makers involved will mean that you could go all the way through the process, and then fall at the final hurdle as someone else comes in to influence the buying decision that you weren’t aware of. Once you’ve identified the decision makers, you can then decide your approach for engaging them. You also need to identify the process they’re going through in order to make the decision. If they’re cagey about the process this time, it might be that the person you’re talking to is low-level in the organisation. In which case, simply asking about a previous process for similar projects will uncover most of what you need to know.
Asking about the other options they’re considering will usually set the platform for you to get information about other potential suppliers/vendors. It will also get you vital information about alternative competition — either them finding another way to achieve the results they want, doing it themselves in-house, or not doing it at all.
Another area you need to know about is their timescales. Most salespeople make the mistake of only finding out when the clients want to implement the project or when they need to take delivery of the product. If you only get this timescale then you’re missing out on something that’s potentially more important. Make sure you understand their buying timescales to give yourself the best understanding of how to handle the proposal and give yourself the best chance of winning it.
It’s vital in any sales opportunity, let alone a proposal situation, that you identify budget or funding as early as possible. As most decent-sized projects require money from someone’s budget, or the company to have thought about how they’re going to pay for it, failure to identify this can mean the project stalling at the last minute — when you’ve put lots of time and effort into it.
Make sure that you’ve got the budget area covered and you’ll reduce the risk of the project being put on hold, or shelved, plus it may also highlight other people involved in the buying process that you weren’t aware of.
This is the final and most important part of any sales situation, and even more vital at proposal stage. Now for those of you with a short sales cycle, you could also think of the word closing here. For those of you on longer sales cycles, usually with higher-value items or projects at stake, think about gaining commitment to the next stage and to yourself and your company. Failure to get commitment to the project and/or next stage and also to you and your company will mean that you’re likely to be disappointed when it comes to announcing who won the business and who lost it. So gain commitment to ensure you end up in the winner’s enclosure.
So, make sure you take action on the above and the best of luck with your sales!
Everyone wants it, but there is no industry consensus on the best way to measure it. I’m talking about engagement in the email channel.
For example, a fashion brand might send two or three emails per week. It’s not realistic to expect that most people are going to be interested in buying a new fashion item every week or even to review offers each week.
But just because someone is not in the mood to buy or look at current offers, does that mean they are no longer engaged with a brand? Of course not, they gave permission to receive the emails, they showed engagement, ignoring a few emails does not mean a lack of engagement.
Classically campaign open and click rates are used to judge engagement. This was fine when brands sent one campaign per month. Email volumes have increased considerably in the past five years but metrics have not moved on.
A re-think is needed as the classic metrics measure campaigns not customers and as a result promote the wrong behaviour in email marketing.
It’s customers that need to be engaged, so measuring campaigns makes no sense, it’s customers that should be measured.
I’ve been working on a paper, along with my fellow DMA Email Council hub members, Dela Quist, Skip Fidura and Kath Pay. The paper goes to the core of how to measure customer engagement in the email channel and delivers a verdict, based on analysis of brand data. Find out more and download the paper.
When it comes to valuable content, case studies have the potential to punch way above their weight. Like all good content, they can inform, educate and entertain. But they go much further than that — they have the power to persuade and sell (in a very valuable way).
How do they do this?
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes
Consider this scenario. A potential client is looking for the type of service you offer. They go on your website. They find out more about who you are and what you do. But how can they be really certain that your promises will live up to their expectations?
This is the critical point at which a casual browser could be about to become a new client. So how do you ensure they pick up the phone?
Simple — make sure you have some really good case studies on your website that show what you do (not just say it).
Think about how long it can take to woo a new client. The reassurance of a case study can seriously speed up the process. It’s one of the best ways to demonstrate your credentials and bring in more business.
Here are ten ways to ensure your case studies shine:
When Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450 he precipitated the democratisation of information. Neither the reformation nor renaissance, in Europe, could have happened if the printing press had not been invented.
Since print, of course, we have had radio, cinema and television. While no one would underestimate the importance of these forms of media, they simply accelerated what had been initiated by print. In other words, they helped to make information even more accessible and widespread.
The web has also made the access to information even easier and more widespread than anything previously. Just with information access alone, it has empowered people in a way that has never happened before. However, if this is all the web had achieved, we could say it had simply completed the journey started with the invention of the printing press.
The big revolution, however, is that the web has given everyone their own channel. In other words they have a voice. No longer do people need the patronage of a major record label or publishing house to get their music heard or book read. No longer do people have to rely on a few radio talk shows, or letter columns in newspapers, to be able to express their views on the current issues of the day to a wider audience than just their friends. No longer do people only have the choice of moaning to a few colleagues when a company lets them down. Now they can post their views on sites such as Trip Advisor or express their frustrations to a wider audience on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
While every individual has a channel, so does every company. Even if a business today only has a website and a blog, these are channels that are only as good as the content that sits on them. That is, of course, without a business utilising platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn and YouTube amongst many others.
This means that every business has now become a publishing company, whether they like it or not. Today, every company is responsible for providing content for the media channels that they own. Whether they commission material from partners, suppliers and industry experts or create their own, every business requires good content.
It is obvious that a business should put content on their own real estate — whether it is their website, blog, YouTube channel or Facebook page, an organisation should use their content to ensure these media are used to engage and attract customers and prospects alike.
However, the piece of the jigsaw that is sometimes missed by a business, is where else they put their content. Today every company and organisation has the same challenge. They often own a plethora of different channels that need filling with good content but they do not have the wherewithal to create enough. Therefore, most people are willing to take good content created by others. This is on condition that it will provide value to their audience, and it is not blatantly self-promotional.
Every business should ask themselves one question. Where do my customers learn? On what forums, social media platforms, associations and websites do my customers go, in order to keep informed about subjects of interest?
If your audience are engineers, is there a LinkedIn forum that many of them use? If you target solicitors, do they refer to the Law Society website? If you target small local businesses, do they use their local chamber of commerce or business networking association for information? Wherever your customers hang out is where you want to try and have content placed.
For example, if you wanted to target airline pilots you could post adverts in the newspaper and hope one of them saw your advert and called. Alternatively, you could sit in the bar at one of the major airport hotels and strike up some interesting conversations with the patrons. I would suggest the second approach would probably be more effective.
It is no different online. Create and commission content and, of course, put it on your own channels. However, for many companies the success of content is to get it distributed in the right places. That is, the platforms that your prospects and customers use. So don’t forget to ask yourself one important question, where do my customers learn?, and then make sure you are there.