You only have 10 minutes to present before your Chamber group, networking organization or BNI (Business Networking International) group. You’ve never spoken before a group of diverse business peers before and don’t know where to start. If you do your job well, you’ll be well-remembered and well thought-of, but if you don’t…don’t worry – you’ll do fine, as long as you don’t turn your presentation into a sales pitch and you practice what you’re going to say beforehand.
Ten minute presentations can help build your platform, and they can establish your credibility and visibility in your profession, as long as you don’t sell directly to your audience. Of course we’re all in business to make money, but instead of throwing everyone a sales pitch you need to choose a topic that will engage your audience that will prompt them to ask you questions. Your networking peers will then refer people to you who have questions without the fear of being “pushed” into anything. You want to be known as the go-to expert in your field and the resource who helps other people find answers to their problems. You don’t want to have the reputation as the pushy person who keeps hounding you for a sale. Maybe people within your group will buy once from you, but they won’t send you outside referrals and they won’t become repeat customers.
What Should I Talk About?
You should present a topic that you care about and that’s important to people in need of your product or service. You will find these topics by researching blogs in your field, by attending presentations, by conversing with experts in your field and by reading the business section of the newspaper. Have a folder on your desk that is your “idea factory” where you place your topic ideas on slips of paper. Build a habit of carrying around a notepad or index cards (this is good for the car) on which you jot down ideas as they hit you or when you’re on the phone with colleagues or clients. Many professionals swear by using a digital tape recorder and they speak into it when an idea hits them.
As you’re preparing your talk, also prepare a bio that is three to four sentences long. Talk about your experience in your field, your education, where you grew up and what you makes you different from others in your field. Give your bio to whoever is in charge of introducing you so they are prepared and can give you an enthusiastic welcome to your group.
It’s also helpful to write up a handout with bullet points along with your contact information so your group can take notes and has a handy reference sheet to take home with them. Pass this handout out before you begin speaking and copy it on colored paper to make it more eye-catching.
When you do get an idea, make sure that your idea is not too big for the presentation. The way to counter going over your time is to give five or seven tips to share with your audience. Use five index cards, write on both sides if you need to and practice your talk before the mirror. Time yourself! Did you go over ten minutes? Did you stumble on passages or specific words?
When it is time to give your talk, relax! You’re among peers who want you to succeed! Remember to smile, maintain eye contact and pause for taking a breath so your voice doesn’t become small and thin. When you’re finished, know that you are well on your way to give more talks and increase your visibility. Now that your peers know your expertise, they’ll be able to give stronger referrals, which will ultimately lead to more business. Congratulations and now prepare for your next ten minute talk!