Practical Presentation Skills Part 3 – Become Simply the BEST – 5 Final tips to get you there

By Matthew Hill

What is the worst case presentation scenario you can imagine? Your audience are pointing and laughing at you as if you are tied up in the stocks getting hit by rotten vegetables!

Animation helps

Animation helps

 Ironically, whilst this is one of the top ranked human fears, audiences actually want you to win.

 They are happy if you enjoy the show. It means that they can too. They want you to be witty,   charming and intelligent. They want you to have a good time and to give them a great time.

 Where that phobia becomes relevant is not in the presentation – the trap lies in the preparation of  your presentation.

 In this post we will explore a couple of differences between myth and truth when it comes to giving confident presentations and getting applause and action at the end of your show.

1. Too many wires – The quickest way to lose an audience is to mess up at the beginning. Your computer is off and it takes 3 minutes to get the slides moving; you haven't got the charger wire or adapter and you run out of juice halfway through; you forget your main prop or visual demonstration aid and only remember during the show (this happened to me last summer in front of 300 professionals…); you stumble up the stairs as you take your position on stage; the audio track on your film clip is too soft for people to hear; the lights are so bright no one can see the screen; there is a distracting and irritating noise outside your room; you rushed to get dressed in the morning and your buttons are misaligned or you fail to notice the huge gunshot wound of strawberry jam slowly sliding down your tie.

All these things have happened. And all these things are preventable. Perfect Preparation Prevents pathetically poor performance – this is the 6P truth. Having a laminated list of 20 things that you must check, like a fighter pilot before takeoff, will make you 20 times more reliable. And trust me, it can happen to the best or the most experienced presenters. Versions of all the above have happened to myself and many great speakers. My mistake for many years was to have only a mental list – not so reliable. I now have a card-based list and check through before a presentation as if my reputation depends upon it.

2. Remember or take action? – It is easy to forget that there are different and sometimes competing outcomes that you can go for. Do you want your audience to laugh? Do you want your audience to remember something? Do you want your audience to be emotionally moved? Do you want your audience to consider change? Do you want your audience to take action?

Please feel free to ask these questions now. If the objective is to have your audience retain information you may emphasise key points with repetition, deploy a handy pneumonic, or tell a story, possibly involving a celebrity.

If you wish them to take action you may build up your ”cost of not” argument, the consequences of ignoring your talk and the diabolical future that the audience will then face.

The best example of this I've ever seen for promoting action occurred when I was MC at an awards ceremony in London. One of the prize winners came from a medical company. He came on stage and his acceptance speech started with a question, “How many of you have diabetes at the moment?” Before everyone had had time to feel fear or more than a few brave souls had put their hands up he interrupted the process, “Oh well. It doesn't really matter. In 10 years time most of you will get it!” Stunned silence. But we were totally ready for what he said next and were actively attending to any words approximating to a cure and help for our imminent health crisis.

If you want your crowd to apply your wisdom – then “monkey see, monkey do” is a good way to achieve this. This can be with a live demonstration or a film with commentary. A verbal description of physical action is less powerful and more ambiguous than an accurate depiction of the physical act itself.

Think about the outcome and adjust your presentation accordingly.

3. Mind your language – in other posts we have made it clear that speedy delivery is less of a problem than most presentation trainers acknowledge. If you are fast but fluent this will probably be perceived by your audience as you being intelligent and an expert. The exception to this is in sales part of your pitch, when speed is taken as a sign of nervous deception.

Accent is an interesting one. When you're watching British TV have you noticed how many advertisements have a Scottish actor’s voice. Apparently this is the most attractive and credible accident for selling products in the UK. Similarly any brand from Yorkshire has a thick brown Yorkshire accident that naturally promotes the consumption of tea, cakes and beer.

Other accents have historically caused a problem. In the UK, the Birmingham accent does not always promote credibility and confidence. If you have a pronounced regional or country accent, it is best to draw attention to this early on and get the subject out of the way. Otherwise the audience will spend more time analysing your geographical origins then listening to your message.

Swearing is another counterintuitive phenomena in presentation. One of the most successful presenters of all time is Tony Robbins. He is famous for dropping the F bomb during his 50 hour seminars. It does not seem to have done him any harm. He has the world record for the largest ever one-speaker event – I know, I was there. With a charismatic speaker, swearing is perceived as passion – the presenter losing themselves in their authentic content.

4. You lost me at blah blah blah – if you made a graph of attention over time the average audience low ill happen after about 10 minutes of chat. There is a little miracle that clever presenters use to restore energy and concentration in the audience. They segment the presentation, however long or short, into parts that each contain a clear start, middle and finish. When you telegraph part 2 is coming up or you are approaching the end of the 3rd section, your audience will look up from their iPhones and wait for a summary, a conclusion or a punch line. They will also be ready to absorb the next sentence that will tell them whether they should listen to your new section or go back to texting their friends.

Related to this is the helicopter or microscope. Deductive thinkers will want context and atomic detail before they “buy” you, whilst holistic experiencers will enjoy a high altitude overview of your topic to become engaged. Obviously you will have a mixture of types within your audience and so moving from high-level to detailed and back again is a great way to include everybody sat in front of you.

5. Fake it until you make it – as stated, the audience wants you to be successful. They will enjoy the show if you look like you are enjoying it too. When you think about it that’s wonderful. You are not going to the Coliseum as a gladiator performing in front of a cynical and bloodthirsty crowd that want you to come to a sticky end. An audience wants to be entertained, informed and moved emotionally. That's all you have to do.

It starts with you coming on stage as if you mean it, looking good and smelling good, and getting your first sentence right. Apart from practice, practice and more practice this is about banishing your self limiting beliefs, putting yourself in a peak emotional and mental state and truly believing in what you are speaking about.

One of the best tricks I know for boosting presentation confidence is to give your presentation to someone cynical and asked them to pitch you with difficult questions. If you can defend your case whilst maintaining your cool think how this will benefit you in your actual presentation. You will feel calm because you know you have a water tight defence…and in the Q&A session at the end you know you are more than ready.

I hope this three-part series has been of help to you. Please now go and apply the science and wisdom of presentations to your next show. Maybe, this time, they will give you the standing ovation that you richly deserve.

Matthew Hill is a Trainer, Author and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

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Consultative selling is about ENGAGEMENT – Matthew Hill & Ursula Brinkmann

What is your dream sales outcome?  – A Global corporation spontaneously calling you with a warm and friendly offer to buy your premium priced full-service solution for their executive elite?

Does what you’ve just read seem improbable? In fact, it is anything but.

The ladder of engagement ends with the most credible people in your target business sector actively encouraging their high-quality contact list to buy and use you and your services.

It is not a quick journey and it requires plenty of persistence, intelligence and inspiration on your part AND it is entirely possible.

ROS – Return on Sweat – what are you implementing at the moment to fill your business pipeline? Some live follow-up phone calls offering to help people if they have a problem? A Christmas card in December? Or launching a fresh website with moving parts?

Lovely as these things may be, they are not going to fill a sustained and secure business pipeline. They are not going to give you the feeling of being in control. They are not going to propel your reputation and BRAND to the next level.

In this post, we will spell out the pathway to outstanding customer engagement. Please feel free to read on, take notes and, more importantly, take immediate action once you have finished reading.

There are 10s or possibly 100s of high-value customers who will be ready to call you in 2017. Alas, today, they do not know you exist. How will you take steps to help them find you?

The Ladder of Engagement – Step by step

Don’t Know You – in the past, people became famous by advertising, putting brochures in the post or cold calling decision-makers. Today the returns on these crude activities is negligible and anyone attempting an old school marketing campaign will quickly become poorer and disillusioned.

Know You – today it is about getting noticed by being good / great / exceptional, showing / sharing your expertise and connecting with the emotions and issues of your well-funded and needy audience.

The single most effective way I know and use is to secure public speaking opportunities where I have an live platform to point out what the audience does not have, point out the cost of not having it and to talk about where they may acquire it. This rich and warm touch-point is invaluable in building a database of contacts that are warm and responsive.

Another powerful medium for throwing bait to the fish is to post intelligent, ethical and useful thought pieces on the LinkedIn post site, or via a WordPress blog site that has being well prepared for Search Engine Optimisation so that your new audience can find you.

Keywords are the key to ending your obscurity.

Like you – if you are blessed with natural beauty, above-average height or piercing blue eyes much of the job has been done for you already. For the rest of us we can dress like the audience, speak their language and use intelligence, humour and passion to convert an emotionally neutral crowd into people that care what you say next. This applies to a live audience, a webinar broadcast or a piece of marketing collateral. Despite your hesitation, believe me when I tell you, you can demonstrate your personality and wonderful character to powerful effect and deliver your core message well and in an effective way.


Your homework with friends and family is to get a reaction out of them. Sit around the table and attempt to provoke either agreement or intellectual disagreement as you make your case. Do so with sophistication, eloquence and charm.

Trust you – The three pillars of trust are Ability, Benevolence and Integrity. Your success depends upon you knowing your skills, articulating your skills and demonstrating your skills. It requires that you prove goodwill and your desire for mutually beautiful outcomes. The second and last pillars are connected. Are you truly aligned with a healthy purpose and are you consistent with your message? Repetition of your key proposition and the benefits in multiple media, across different channels over a period of time will help people to come to trust you.

Buy from you – at some point we must convert the marketing momentum into the signing of a contract. To make this easier we have split the commercial part into two. We begin with the first sale or transaction. The first coaching hour, the first half day’s training or the first DVD. The skills you need here are to use a process. This requires that you remember a simple closing sequence. If you outline the benefits of what you are providing, pre-empt possible objections with honest and demonstrable outcomes, point out the implications of those outcomes for improving the customer’s life and business and articulate ways to reduce emotional and financial risk, you will be well on the way to winning your next piece of business. Selling is a process not a black art.

Buy more from you – some people say that your first sale can only be called successful when the customer comes back for more. This seems sensible because it means you've delivered what you promised. The investment by you to make this happen is in the quality of the customer experience of your product or service.

Advocate and refer – the Holy Grail of customer engagement happens when you over-deliver so frequently that client’s trust in you becomes unshakeable. They migrate from being distant corporate executives to becoming your raving fans and unflinching advocates of your proposition. Sometimes as active marketers and referrers they will send high-quality business directly to your desk. This is the gold standard of engagement and is what anybody can expect to achieve with excellence, intelligence and openness to critical feedback. You will also require an obsession for improving the quality and customer experience for whatever you deliver.

Do not underestimate the work involved in getting to the top floor. There will be setbacks, disappointments and even betrayals. Other people may sometimes let you down. The one constant MUST be you, your determination, your grinding persistence, your scheduled activity and your openness to constructive criticism. Finally, your willingness to constantly expand and improve upon what you provide in return for the customer’s money will determine you long-term success in business.

To accelerate your journey to the top of the engagement ladder we are running our next  2-Day Consultative Selling Course in Amsterdam 11th & 12th September. Book your ticket at;

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10 Benefits of Becoming a Great Negotiator with Matthew Hill

poppies field in rays sun





Below is a short film (7 minutes) outlining what we feel are the benefits and outcomes experienced by executives like you when they invest in, learn about and practice negotiation.

The 10 points represent a sample of the outcomes experienced by the 100s of particpants we have trained in our in-house and open courses run in the UK, France, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands.

We hope you enjoy the film. Please feel free to share it with you colleagues and explore where you are on your journey to becoming a great negotiator.

If you need anything from us, please feel free to call. Matthew is on 07813 760 711 or +44 7813 760 711. E Mail  Thanks.

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10 Benefits of Becoming a Great Presenter

There are 100's of benefits to becoming a more rounded and connected presenter – in your team, your company or your industry. We have picked just 10 that can make the biggest difference to you, your environment and your audience.

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Time – 3 and a half Ways to Win Back TIME by Matthew Hill

Teamwork and corporate profit





It continues to surprise me that, within our sophisticated, “We know everything world,” that there are still people not practicing the freedom techniques provided by good Time Management. I continue to walk into offices and meet lovely people who are the stressed victims of “other people's URGENT”

Here are ways to take back some control over YOUR work time.

1. Protect your GOLDEN HOUR

Are you a morning person? Or do you function best at midnight? A lot of executives have two bio-rhythmic highs per day. One may occur during working hours and other outside. The first thing to do is to create a record of your energy cycles.

When you finish reading this life changing post, take a piece of paper and mark out the hours of your working day. Set your alarm to ring every hour and, on that hour, measure your energy levels on a scale of 1 to 10. It should only take one day to identify when your peak state of resourcefulness is happening. If you are unsure either repeat the exercise or telephone your doctor…

When you have decided which hour of the day represents your peak energy, the next task is to pick the most important and effective mini project you could undertake that will positively influence the key results you are expected to deliver as part of your job.

It should be noted that this project will not be urgent but it certainly will be important. Can you think of one? What non-urgent and probably strategically significant work could you undertake that will take you a leap forward in making your working life easier and reaching an intelligent outcome?

Next –  build a wall around your golden hour. Warren Buffett notes that successful people say, “NO!” frequently and effectively. Now it's your turn. Practice saying no to all requests and interruptions around your scheduled golden hour. Initially you will get pushed back, challenging banter and, possibly, punishment. Please remember during this transitional phase that your poor colleagues don't understand the golden hour and will soon be jealous of your results.

That's almost it. You've earmarked your optimally resourceful time of day, you have selected work that will make a real difference and you have protected yourself from the ROBBERS of your time. All that remains is to put yourself in a peak state of mental, physical, spiritual and emotional readiness and laser beam the important task in front of you whilst enjoying the buzz of your new found effectiveness.

2. The power of NOT

Whether in a matrix structure or not, we all have competing priorities, a swelling sea of urgent work and a blinding array of deadlines racing towards us. One simple and effective way to get the drama out of your head and into a process or at least a piece of paper is to decide which of the many urgents and/or importants you are NOT going to start today. It is this deliberate choice  –  sectioning off a secondary task until tomorrow that clears a mental and physical space for doing an excellent job on your primary task today. If you don't believe me, just have a go!

3. Schedule White Space

Many offices that I visit to deliver soft skills training to talk about the unpredictability of their schedules. “We never know when a customer will call”, “The next emergency just crops up”, “When my boss calls I have to respond immediately” Etc.

Yes, there are jobs and corporate cultures where action and urgency are built-in. An important point to remember is there are two urgencies  – YOUR’s and OTHER PEOPLE’s. The more work you do that is urgent for other people the less you will be able to achieve yourself. The more you do that is your own urgent the less of your urgent will be left undone at the end of the day. (There are other ways to escape the rat race of urgency – call me for details – 07813 760 711)

One way to acknowledge that you have now moved from other people's agenda to controlling your own is to schedule white space in your diary and acknowledge that you are not, currently, in control of all of your time.

What is this look like?

Take your spreadsheet diary or paper one and set it to view two weeks. And then fill it. Put in the hard deadlines, the set meetings and the inevitable. Block off the golden hour time and… Put in the white space that represents client drama, bossy boss commands and demands and other people's urgent.

When you now look your diary it will be an honest and realistic representation of your current time / life balance.

3½. Don’t talk to me – Here is a bonus idea – Once a month have a no interruption afternoon – No one in the office is allowed to speak to anyone else – You will be surprised at how much you achieve without resorting to hiding in the boardroom or knowing that you will have to write that important piece in the evening when you are less distracted. Go on. Give it a go.

I hope this has been useful for you and that you do begin to free yourself to be beautifully resourced and powerful for your Golden hours, to protect that golden hour like a soldier and to start spotting other people's urgent and reacting accordingly,

Good luck.

Matthew Hill is a leadership and soft skills trainer working with busy and stressed executives helping to free them up to achieve more outcome with less drama.





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