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A week ago I was listening to one of my favourite radio shows - Under the Influence on CBC Radio 1 with Terry O'Reilly. It runs weekly on Saturday and Monday but all the shows are available as podcasts online via the CBC app.

The episode was called "This I Know" and Terry talked about some important lessons he has learned. I really enjoyed his "6 Tips for Presenting Ideas or How to be Great in the Boardroom". 

  1. From the moment you step into a board room begin creating what I call an atmosphere of approval. Command the room with an easy going positive tone. Don’t slip into business (ese) jargon. Just talk like a real human being. If you’ve got your clients smiling and comfortable and nodding their heads at this stage, the air in that room favours approval. Then casually slip into your presentation without a formal throat clear or a sudden change in tone.

  2. Presentations need structure. Like a good story they need a beginning, a middle and an end. A well structured presentation feels professional and persuasive.

  3. Above all, prepare the end of your presentation. Most people think the lead up is the most important part. They’re wrong. After you’ve revealed your idea, the minds on the other side of the table will be racing like a pinball machine. It will be equal parts excitement, fear and paralysis by analysis. This is your opportunity to calm all this down while the cement is still wet. Your first words after the idea has been exposed should be “Now let’s look at what we’ve achieved here”. Then clearly explain how your idea will answer everything your client asked for point by point. This is your chance to persuade your client to buy your idea. Eliminate the obstacles to approval here and now.

  4. Never let there be silence. Silence immediately following the reveal of the idea smells like fear. I can’t tell you how many presentations I’ve witnessed where the presenter did a great lead up, revealed the idea, then sat there in silence waiting for a comment.  Wrong. Keep talking. Keep the energy in the room up. Persuade them the idea is right. Don’t stop talking until the client asks the first question. Then roll with the ensuing conversation.

  5. Never tell a client how to think. Never, ever start a presentation by saying “You’re gonna love this” because the first thought they’ll have is “No I won’t”. Why start from a deficit.

  6.  Once you get an approval that’s lunch. Don’t keep selling an idea once it’s approved. I have seen presenters do this. They keep selling and selling way past the approval point until the client starts to dislike the idea. Get the approval then move on.


Terry comes from an ad background by the tips hold true to anyone that is pitching an idea, making a sales presentation or trying to sell their latest vacation adventure to their significant other.
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