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How To Stress Less In Presales Presentations

Kevin Naglich
Sales Engineer English Coach

You're giving a presales presentation in English.

Things are going okay, but then you get blocked.

You can't think of what to say next. The words aren't coming to you.

You finally think of something basic to say, but then someone interrupts you.

Now, you can't remember where you were. It's hard to start the presentation again and continue.

Worst of all, you spent hours preparing this presentation for your prospect, but they're not engaged. They're looking at their phones. They're distracted by emails.

Why is this happening? 3 reasons:

  1. You're trying to memorize a script
  2. You're presenting, not having a conversation
  3. You're focusing on English, not your message

How to reduce stress in English presales presentations

To feel more confident and natural while giving presales presentations in English, I recommend this 3-step process:

Step 1: Start a conversation, not a presentation

Presentations are stressful. Everyone is staring at you. You have to do all the talking. 

Conversations are more casual. Many people speak. You have time to relax and think about what to say next.

So, how do you change a presentation into a conversation?

Turn your boring agenda slide into a conversation starter.

90% of the agenda slides I see are a boring list of bullets that are all about you. "Solution overview. Demo. Questions." 

Nobody wants a solution overview.

Nobody wants a Demo.

Your client wants to know how you solve their problems.

To start a conversation, replace those bullets with the questions you will answer for them. For example:

  • How we solve your security problem
  • How we lower your total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • How your user experience (UX) improves

When you're done sharing these questions, ask them:

"What other questions do you have?"

Now it's all about them.

You showed them you won't waste their time. 

And you invited them to a conversation by asking an open-ended question.

Step 2: Don't memorize a script. Improvise.

Now, this might sound crazy. 

We always think, "Oh, improvising is way harder in English. It's a lot easier to just say something I memorized."

If we're talking about one or two sentences, then sure. 

But memorizing an entire presentation is incredibly stressful.

There are so many words to remember, and it's so easy to get lost. 

  • What if you forget a sentence? 
  • What if you forget a word?
  • What if you get interrupted?

When you improvise, all of this stress disappears.

But you're still a little skeptical. And that's okay. I understand. 

Here's how you can make improvising in English easier.

First, ask yourself, "Okay, what is the big idea I'm trying to share on this slide?" 

(If you can't answer that question, remove that slide.)

Maybe one of your big ideas is, "I want to share we have experience working with other manufacturing companies to build trust and confidence."

Great. That's the big idea. 

Now, explain that like you're talking to just one person. 

Pretend I just asked you casually, "Hey, have you worked with manufacturing companies before?" 

What would you say if it was just you and me? Would you say, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Let me get my script?"

Of course you wouldn't. 

You would say something like, "Yeah, we've worked with them before. We just had a big engagement where we helped a manufacturer lower their total cost of ownership by 30%." 

Stop thinking, "There are 10 people in this audience" Just talk like you're speaking to one person. 

Step 3: Ask a question after each slide to continue the conversation.

With step 1, you started a conversation on the agenda slide. 

Now, you want to continue the conversation throughout the presentation. 

How? Just ask an open-ended question after each slide.

💡 An open-ended question cannot be answered with "yes" or "no." They force the audience to pay attention and share more information.

Asking questions allows you to relax. You can take a breath and think about where to go next.

Even better, you will learn more about what your prospect thinks and wants to hear.

To ask good questions, ask yourself, "What information would help me most right now?"

What would I like to know to see if this audience is interested? 

What would help me know if this use case is important to them?

What would help me expand the opportunity?

When you have your answer, ask them a question that encourages conversation. For example:

  • How would this impact your total cost of ownership (TCO)?
  • How often does [problem] result in [negative outcome]?
  • How does this strategy fit with your goals?
  • What concerns do you have about this?

They might respond, saying, "Yeah, this could help us reduce TCO a lot because we wouldn't have to have five different training programs for five different solutions."

This is way more helpful than asking, "Do you have any questions?" and them saying, "No." 

You start a conversation, you get a chance to stop talking, and you learn you have a great selling point to talk more about.

Answering these questions is harder for your audience. Which means they have to pay more attention.

And since you're not the only one talking anymore, your stress level in English goes down. 

Let's summarize.

Follow these 3 steps in presales presentations to reduce stress.

First, remember to start a conversation

Updating your boring agenda slide is a great way to start that conversation. Focus on the key questions you will answer and then ask them, "What other questions do you have?"

Second, don't memorize. Improvise. 

Memorizing is stressful. There are too many things to think about. There are too many words. There are too many opportunities for you to get lost or for interruptions to cause big problems. 

But remember, if you're not getting interrupted, you're the one talking and talking, and they might be bored.

To make improvising easier, ask yourself, "What is the big idea I'm trying to share on this slide?" Then explain it like you're talking to just one person. 

Finally, continue the conversation by asking a question after each slide. 

We continue by asking open-ended questions. Questions that give you information on how to sell more effectively. Questions where they cannot just say yes or no.

You want information to help you customize the rest of the presentation or give you and your account executive more ideas about the opportunities in this account. 

I'll help you prepare for your next presales English presentation.

What we just did is a great example of what I do every week with my private coaching clients.

We focus on more than just English. I use my experience as a former Sales Engineering Director to help you use the English you already know more effectively. 

I'll help you learn powerful presentation strategies, sales techniques, and conversation plans to level up your sales communication every week.

If you sell to multinational organizations or plan to relocate to Canada or the United States, take the first step and schedule a free 30-minute strategy session with me today.

We'll have a quick conversation about your goals, your challenges, and what I can do to help you reach your potential.

See you there.

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