|Vice President—Content/ Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
As travel advisors, you’re often asked to go into your communities to make presentations to potential clients, to tell them about the trips you’ve taken and to give them some input on what a travel advisor can do for his clients.
For some, this is an easy task. They relish the idea of standing before a crowd waxing on about the adventures they’ve enjoyed in Borneo. Some, however, equate public speaking with getting a root canal.
I recently attended a seminar on giving presentations and wanted to share some of the tips I gathered. The presentation was given by Ray Bigger, who is a “People, Meeting, Sales & Marketing Architect,” and who is just great at speaking in front of groups. As a former English Football League and Premier League referee, he had to ensure that he was a good communicator on a number of levels, with soccer teams, policemen and coaches. Here are some of Ray’s tips, generously paraphrased and enhanced by me.
Don’t wing it: People will know it right away and they won’t like it. If you don’t emit a professional aura, they will lose interest in the first few moments of your talk.
Control your voice: Before you begin to speak, fill your lungs with air to ensure that what comes out of your mouth is not a high-pitched squeal.
Start with the end in mind: Determine the message you want people to leave with and start with it, rather than working in a linear narrative. Perhaps the message is that you saved a client $500 on a trip that he wanted to book over the Internet. Get that message out there first, then go back and explain how you brought value to the table step-by-step. Maybe you were able to arrange a highly customized program for a client who wanted to find his roots in Scotland. Paint the image of his discoveries with your speech, let the audience know of the thrill he experienced when he saw his ancestors’ home in Glasgow. Once you’ve grabbed the moment, you can tell the group how you pieced together the itinerary by playing detective.
Determine three messages you want to get out: You might feel strongly about a lot of things, but you cannot go on and on about them. Select the three most important things you want to convey and stick to them.
Poll your audience: Before you begin speaking about traveling through France, ask how many have been there already. You might be speaking to newbies or to some who go every summer.
Preparing PowerPoint: PowerPoint presentations can be wonderful visuals, especially if you want to show photos of your travels and get some great travel suggestions across. However, do not load up each screen with lines and lines of text and then commence to read each one. This is called Death by PowerPoint. The audience is capable of reading what you have put up on the screen themselves. Ray Bigger suggests no more than five lines on each screen and recommends using the Arial font in a 24-point size.
Watch the four corners of the room: You want to make sure that you are speaking to everyone and you don’t want to miss any questions that someone might have along the way. If a person interrupts and monopolizes your talking time, tell him firmly you’ll speak with him after the event.
Bring business cards: Expect a line of people to come up to speak with you afterward, so be prepared. It’s not a bad idea to have your name, company and e-mail address on that final PowerPoint slide as well.
That’s it! Get out there and show them what you’ve got. You’ll do just great.