More and more contract cleaners are now expected to give a presentation before potential clients when they submit a bid or respond to a request for proposal. This is a crucial step. Very often, how well you do – whether you present before one person or a dozen people – can determine if you win the account.
Contractors can include all of the features and benefits of their services in the proposal, but the presentation itself is what helps the clients determine if they feel comfortable with you and can work with you.
There are many steps involved in preparation. However, one of the most important is to feel comfortable as well as enthusiastic before speaking in front of a group of people. So many cleaning contractors get jittery and anxious before a talk. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help calm down, and in some cases, amp up, before you step in front of potential clients.
In today’s marketplace, the more animated and involved you are in your presentation, the more likely you are to win the account. This was recently proven in an experiment at Erasmus University Rotterdam, a highly ranked university in the Netherlands. An actor was hired to give four video presentations to four different groups, each pitching his business plan to possible investors. The four presentations differed in the following ways:
- In one presentation, the actor excitedly pitched his business plan but did not use gestures.
- During the second presentation he did the same, but this time he included frequent hand gestures.
- The third presentation was also pitched with a tone of excitement, and this time the actor used both frequent hand and arm gestures.
- During the fourth presentation, the actor had no hand or arm gestures and delivered a straightforward pitch, showing little excitement about his business plans.
The results: People who saw the third presentation in which the actor showed excitement and had frequent hand and arm gestures were 12 percent more likely to invest in his business. This shows that when giving a business presentation, your ability to persuade an audience depends on the level of excitement you convey in your voice and through your gestures.
Why Gestures Matter
Why do gestures play such an important role? There are several reasons they are critical to the success of your presentation:
- People do more than just listen to a presentation. They watch it as well. Body language can be just as important. Hand and arm gestures tend to relax those listening to you, allowing them to absorb more of what you are discussing. They no longer feel you are talking at them, but rather to them.
- Often presenters become more charismatic when they use gestures; they earn and hold their audience’s attention. Charisma can also be viewed by potential clients as a leadership skill. This is where listeners bond with the presenter. In the study mentioned earlier, those more willing to invest in the pitch said they had a better understanding of the plan when the actor used frequent gestures.
- Gestures can be used to accent the talk. Skilled presenters often use their arms and hands to form a prop, point to something, describe a movement, or even express a feeling. All of these actions get an audience more involved in the presentation.
Overall Body Language
Now that we know gestures can help us win clients, here is one more important tip: Just sweeping your arms and hands will not work. When that happens, your gestures and your body language will look unnatural and interfere with what you are trying to convey.
Instead, practice your talk two or three times, preferably in front of someone who will give you honest feedback. Use the types of gestures you would normally use if you were talking to someone you know.
After a few times through the talk, experiment with using specific gestures at crucial points in your presentation for emphasis. As you become more comfortable with the material in your presentation, your gestures will become more natural. Those gestures that feel authentic, powerful, and compelling can be added to your talk.
Practice Makes Perfect
Most everyone, even professional presenters, feels some anxiety before speaking in front of a group.It’s normal, and you are certainly not alone when it comes to feeling nervous before an audience.
Also, realize there is no one-size-fits-all ritual when it comes to preparing yourself.Practice your talk two or three times before you give the actual presentation and use one or more of the tips mentioned in this article. In most cases, you will find the ritual that either soothes you or gives you energy. The key is to tap into the one that works for you.