Sales Presentations and Presentation Training

Powerpoint presentations are here to stay. Whatever the form of the business gathering, you’ll find they are almost always accompanied by a slideshow. It’s particularly true of sales presentations, where winning over the audience is absolutely fundamental. However, Powerpoint is now treated as compulsory, which means that it’s used whether or not it’s useful – a case of the tail wagging the dog. The problem is that Powerpoint design is frequently fairly poor, and serves only to put off your listeners, not win them over to your way of thinking. Thus something that can be a great asset can all too often become a liability. How do you avoid this happening?

People communicate in various ways. There are those who want to send and receive large quantities of information; they are noticeable by their habit of going into great detail and giving you more data than you really need. There are those who tend to communicate on a more emotional basis, interpreting a situation by the way they feel about it. They tend to be more emotive in their own communication, too, using means that resonate on that level – colourful language, anecdotes and intense descriptions of their feelings. And there are those who are far more instinctive and straightforward. They tend to want to get to the heart of a matter and make a decision quickly, and are interested in only the most important details. Bear in mind that when you are communicating with a group of people, it will likely contain one or more of all of these types. Therefore you need to cater for their needs. Otherwise, you will find that you talk past two-thirds of your audience, simply because you’re not communicating in a way that they find easy to engage with.

In terms of Powerpoint presentations, that means you need to adjust your slides as well as your talk. You should make sure you cover all three areas in your Powerpoint design. For your talk, give the data you need, of course. But you should complement it with illustrations and personal stories. You should also provide a summary for those who want nothing more. For your slides, you can do the same. Charts and graphs convey large amounts of information. Photographs and pictures appeal to a different side to the audience and will register emotionally, giving them something to remember. For the last group, a short list of bullet points will give them what they need. Make sure you cater to everyone’s preferences and you’ll find your sales presentations have a higher degree of success.

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Community broadband – for the solitary freelancer

While a selection of underground stations in London have begun offering a free Wifi service to tube travellers, much of the rest of the nation is only just getting up to speed above ground. It might be expected that Britain’s capital, soon to be host to the Olympic games, would offer the best in internet speed but it would be totally unjust if rural Britain were left lagging behind in future. Indeed, though we are suffering the consequences of an economic programme of austerity it is important that money is not withdrawn from projects designed to improve next generation access and community broadband. Because, as people face joblessness, pay cuts, and ‘streamlined’ conditions of employment, many of the most enterprising will take it upon themselves to set up mini businesses, sell unwanted or handmade goods, and even try going it alone in the freelance world. All of the above are good survival strategies when the state fails to provide us with support. But many of these strategies rely on strong ICT infrastructure.

So it transpires that excellent connectivity would boost the whole of Britain and not just those living in London and within commuting distance. Beyond the opportunity to be more business-minded, better access to the internet also helps build a more cohesive society. Web forums full of consolation and counsel have helped many a person get through a whole range of difficulties from hands-on DIY technical hitches to emotional break-ups and stressful exam times. In fact, access to the internet is of increasing importance to young and old single people who are so busy in their professional lives and so set in their social habits that they find online dating the most effective and fun way to find a lover or friend.

And we hardly want to deny exciting romantic adventures and friends to people on the sole basis of them having poor internet service. Next generation access should definitely be evenly distributed and soon will be thanks to progressive improvements in the UK’s investment in ICT infrastructure. Of course, community broadband projects will not only help solve the local issues described above. They will also encourage British citizens to stay abreast of international goings-on and current affairs, stay in touch with friends, family and business partners abroad, and, crucially, get access to information, educational resources, entertainment and work.

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Invoice processing makes for more expedient payments systems

Efficiency is the watchword in business today. With times tough and cuts starting to hurt, there is no room for wasting time and money doing things in a slower or more torturous way than they need to be. The challenge with this, however, is in moving from one familiar way of working to a more effective set of procedures. Although these will result in improved productivity – and therefore a healthier bottom line – there will always be some resistance out of a desire to keep the status quo. Document management is one way in which efficiency can be improved. Its aim is to shift paper documents of all kinds into electronic form (via document processing) and then arrange and employ them in the best way. This is particularly helpful in certain areas of business, such as invoice processing and your accounts procedures.

Invoice processing is vital because the stakes here can be higher than elsewhere. For starters, you may have a high volume of payments and transactions occurring. That means a large number of invoices. The average invoice might have a dozen fields of data on it. You could be copying these manually a number of times – into your accounting systems, payment systems, and other records. Every time it is copied there is room for error to creep in. And there is lots of evidence that this frequently occurs, resulting in unnecessary payments. Properly managed, your electronic invoices can be integrated with other accounting systems, significantly reducing the time required to deal with payments and also decreasing the scope for error.

In other instances, the efficiencies of time can be just as impressive. A single paper note or document can end up on someone’s desk, buried under a pile of paper or accidentally thrown out. In electronic form, this is no longer an issue. It can be shared amongst any number of employees, placed in a central or shared folder on your network, and accessed at any time. (Of course, if you want it to remain confidential then there are ways of going about this too.)

Document management is therefore a vital strand of lifting the performance of any business. Dealing with paper documents is simply inefficient and, sometimes, risky. Too much can be left to chance, paperwork gets lost or damaged, and handling times are unnecessarily long. Document processing – and especially invoice processing – allows you to expedite certain procedures, spending your time and money on what really matters.

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Sales presentations and the science of the slideshow

Powerpoint presentations are a very common way to bolster your verbal presentation and, when used properly, can give an exceptional boost to your audience’s engagement with the material. sales presentations can be hard-going at the best of times, but good Powerpoint design can provide extra details, snare the attention of listeners in danger of tuning out, and provide a critical second strand of information. Consequently, this is one skill it’s worth acquiring – or buying in from an external consultancy if you don’t have the confidence to do it well in-house.

The reason Powerpoint and other visual presentations are so worthwhile is that some people simply do not respond well to the spoken word. Each of us understands a presentation in our own unique way and, for one reason or another, we may not take on board much of the material in a talk. There is a rule that some people are auditory learners – they engage well with the spoken word – whereas others are visual (and others kinaesthetic – that is, they respond to activity, rather than seeing or hearing). Of course, each of us is a mixture of these aspects rather than employing one alone. However, the reality remains that a large proportion of us may not digest well information that is delivered orally. Backing up a spoken-word presentation with a visual one caters to these types.

Therein lies one potential problem of Powerpoint, however. It is all too easy to duplicate content on the screen – in the worst cases, merely repeating the spoken presentation verbatim with a set of slides. This is both distracting to the audience and insulting to their intelligence. A better strategy is to complement, not copy. A picture speaks a thousand words, and charts and photos can supply helpful background information that cannot concisely be given by the speaker. Moreover, information presented this way is far more accessible than written words, in that it is far richer in content.

Powerpoint design can therefore contribute a great deal to your sales presentations and other events. The catch is to do it properly, since bad Powerpoint design will actually detract from your delivery, rather than just not adding very much. Dedicated companies offer training in how to put together a convincing slideshow – one that will engage your audience and complement your speech. Alternatively, you can simply farm out this aspect of your presentation and get an expert to put it together for you.

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Powerpoint presentations that communicate to audiences and enlighten

It is a common but mistaken preconception that powerpoint presentations are easy to master. Indeed, where sales presentations are concerned in particular, the novice who decides to use Powerpoint can end up doing more bad than good to his or her commercial prospects. This is because Powerpoint design is an art to be learnt; much like painting or drawing it requires the acquisition and refinement of acute visual skills and an imaginative approach to composition. Audiences become easily bored and worse, turned off, by presentations that only exploit the bare minimum degree of potential from a software product that can actually be a real asset when used expertly.

Businesses that spend a large amount of their time marketing ideas to external clients should, with the above warning in mind, take care to invest in adequate training for their employees. In brief, a member of the team who gives a bad impression of the brand through Powerpoint or who fails to sell what in actual fact is a stellar idea will be making a business loss not only in the short run – in terms of immediate revenue – but also in terms of the long term acceptance of the future ideas of his or her colleagues.

What needs to be understood is that originality and performance really matter in Powerpoint advertising. In the hyper-industrialised age people are not easily fobbed off by cheap ploys for fast sales of nothing substantial; in an economy that has long been based on debt and trading on nothing concrete, new commercial ideas are unsurprisingly met with scepticism. As such, audiences and panels are looking for products and services offering change, inspiration, perhaps even a feeling of innocence – even if false – to help us forget that almost every aspect of human life has been commodified.

Make good use of powerpoint presentations then – they are mere supports for our ingenuity and should enlighten ideas rather than serve them up cold in a font and format we’ve all seen before. Sales presentations will benefit manifold from this approach that is only possible if Powerpoint design is well taught.

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Video conferencing and its benefits

As websites and the internet have quickened the speed of communication, it seems that the ability to be in several places at once without leaving your office will be the key to succeeding in business.  video conferencing allows us to do just that.  Audio visual conferencing is an excellent driver for productivity, allowing us to keep in closer contact with customers.  The new closeness brought by telepresence video conferencing often leads to new ideas on how to speed up the development of new products and services.

During a videoconference call, all participants can see the facial expressions and body language of all the other participants.  These vital aspects of communication are lost with a basic telephone call.  In addition, if this technology is used for customer service and sales, it has major implications for improving customer relations.  If customers with a query or a problem can effectively meet internal employees by using telepresence video conferencing, your business relationship with customers could be significantly improved.

Furthermore, video conferencing offers a fantastic opportunity to cut travel expenses – a real winner in today’s economy.  While many individuals still like to get out of the office and visit clients and associates in person, there are many situations where it is possible to save massive amounts of money on airfare and hotel costs, as well as the loss of productivity that results from being out of the office.  Although shaking hands with somebody can never really be replaced, video conferencing allows us to ask ourselves whether the cost of that handshake is really justified in every instance.

With video conferencing, you can quickly put together a meeting of various people from different locations, to discuss whatever it is that unites them.  Whether they are at different ends of the same county or opposite sides of the globe, communication is just as easy.  Many of us feel we can express more through facial expressions than through the tired clichés of business speak, which is why a live video call is often much more effective than a telephone call.  In addition, if anything technical needs to be explained, the visual element is extremely valuable in facilitating an easily understandable demonstration.

Video conferencing is not just a new technology that might be worth getting used to, it is the future of communication.  With telepresence video conferencing, participants genuinely feel as if they are sharing a room with fellow conference participants.  Audio visual conferencing is there to make our lives easier – we would be foolish not to take advantage of it.

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Document processing for dummies

The paperless workplace is an ideal that has never properly been achieved. It doesn’t matter how many of your people use email and computer documents for everything they can, cutting down paperwork within your company to a minimum: the fact remains that paper is a way of life, and if your customers haven’t caught on, then you still need to take this into account. What this means in practice is that businesses have to cope with two systems: the up-to-date IT-led filing protocols, in which everything is filed in its rightful place online for anyone to find when they need it, and the old, 20th century filing cabinets and paper-based setup, where letters, notes, invoices and other documents take their chances in an environment that sees them as something of an inconvenience. This is where document management systems come in, allowing you to combine your computer-based filing systems with the old paper ones – thereby achieving a measure of homogeneity. document processing applications convert physical documents to a file, which can then be used like any other online document. Invoice processing achieves this in the accounts field, meaning that you don’t have to worry that invoices sent by fax or the Royal mail will be lost in the works, when emails will be answered and paid more quickly.

Document processing can involve some quite advanced software, but at its core it just creates a computer-ready version of the document. This might be little more than a scan – a pdf ‘photocopy’, perhaps – but the newer versions use optical character recognition to convert even handwritten documents to files that can be used with word processing software: very neat. This effectively means that your online system can be mixed with the paper one, so there’s no worrying about who has put which invoice where. It’s a way of bridging two systems, neither of which is really intended to work with the other.

document processing is really useful when it comes to the accounts department, since any company of any size will very likely have a range of customers and clients who don’t share your systems and setup. Invoice processing means that all invoices are treated the same, and can all be filed on the same document management systems used by that department. When it comes to efficiency – and therefore often reputation – this kind of facility can be worthwhile, since it doesn’t take long for clients to lose patience if things go wrong with the financial side of things.

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