As numerous industries mature and become saturated useful techniques of marketing and management are becoming depleted. Do we need new ones or are there some golden rules that will always be universal?
Whether you speak in front of the general public, investors, clients, or any other third party you are always presenting your company. As first impressions can be critical for future business relations, your goal is to show the best your company has to offer, right?
Although we consider showing up in the best light is important, many employees and even employers tend to underperform when it comes to professional presentations. Whether they lack soft skills, cross-industry knowledge, or simply confidence, failing at properly presenting their company can drive away potential clients, partners, and even spread negative word-of-mouth. If some of the popular, however often harmful, trends in presentations are added to this, the situation can become even worse for that particular company or brand.
One such trend that is common nowadays is where many company representatives present themselves as professionals and manage to “sell” themselves as worthy of your time while actually, they do not have anything to offer. Such representatives take an overbearing stand and excel at presentation skills and eventually, they end up convincing others that they know what they are talking about and that they are reliable. Owing to this, there is a rising belief that arrogance will open doors in the business world.
In reality, there is rarely anything under the surface and they do not actually have anything to offer. However, it is often the case that it is too late at this moment as they have already sold you their business offer and you are usually left worse off. Although this practice might come as enthusiastic and earn them some credits, in the long run, it may actually create a negative buzz around their brand.
In order to prevent such presenters from taking over your clients and business opportunities, you need to excel at presentations yourself. Presentations and communication skills are narrowly bound to details ranging from being right on time, dressing according to standards to office decoration and design. For instance, we tend to take office interior as granted but in fact, facilities like your reception area reflect your business. Physical space is another way of communicating with stakeholders and an additional chance to send a message to your clients. Take an example of an untidy and disorganized office and employees that lose a lot of time to find needed documents in that chaos. You probably would not want to hire that company to do business for you.
Company representatives often forget that presenting your company is not constrained to meetings in person. In fact, it usually just begins there. Once a potential client or partner closes the door behind you after a successful meeting they start a search about you. Looking forward to confirming or rejecting their first impression of you and your company they will type the name of your company in Google search and most probably end up either on your website or your social media. Hence, those platforms and tools are another way of professional presentation. Those who are even more inquisitive will look it up even before meeting you. If your website and social media are not representative enough there is a possibility that the meeting does not even happen.
An Important part of creating a presentation strategy and developing standards of communication is to define which type of media is the proper one for your industry and company. In case you are not sure what is the best way to present your company and you have a hard time deciding which media channel is the most suitable choice for you, please contact us.
Some mistakes are made simply out of the will to make everything go right. As presentations are mostly time-constrained and often measured in minutes rather than hours, there is a high amount of pressure not to forget anything. It is typically hard to seize everything in a few minutes and in turn, a message that is conveyed sometimes deviates from its key point. Too many things and too little time tend to cause confusion and stress and that is where practice can help. Even leaders like Steve Jobs, known for their remarkable presentation skills, emphasize the importance of practicing and repeating even weeks before the presentation.
Another thing employees should be careful about is cultural differences. Geographical differences often include traditions and business expectations differing from one region to the other and even from one city to the other. Gestures, phrases, and dress codes that are considered polite and professional in one country are undesired in other countries and could be even perceived as an insult.
For example, the “come here” sign is widely used in America and Europe to ask someone to step forward whereas in Asia the same sign is not welcome at all and a person pointing it out could be even arrested in the Philippines. Confusion can also arise from simple gestures like nodding or expressing “yes” and “no”. Cultural traditions and cultural differences are things to consider before a cross-cultural meeting, paying a visit to an international company, or meeting a client coming from a different region.
To ensure presentations go smoothly and that all risks are minimized companies should develop standards in presenting, writing, and speaking to outside stakeholders and third parties. Once employees have general guidelines they should feel less stressed. A certain amount of security and familiarity will give them the confidence to leave the desired impression. Companies that are devoted to quality presentations have these standards in their Code of conduct or other documents that define any kind of rules and guidelines in the company. The most professional ones divide stakeholders into groups and the way each group is addressed is defined accordingly. The Code of conduct is unique to each organization and it usually reflects company culture as well as industry norms. Look at some well-developed code of conduct documents of companies like Unilever and Coca Cola.
Whether companies decide to write their standards down or convey them verbally to their employees, it is important that they have them defined in some way. Without defined standards there are high chances of making bad impressions which could negatively affect brand image. Companies that take their time, devote energy and eventually shine in presentations are half-way there where they want to be.