Sales and Presentation Skills
How improv can build your sales pitch & presentation skills online and in real life
It is very easy to rehearse a choreographed team presentation in the safety of your own office, but often when sales teams transpose these perfect masterpieces into the client’s office, they fail to hit the mark. Your pitching and presentation teams need to be comfortable with the unexpected, being agile and calm when the script has vanished.
This is exactly what improv training focusses on, but in an environment where failure is an option and the stakes are low. People who regularly practise improvisation report higher levels of self confidence as reported in numerous studies.
Never has the phrase “people buy people first” been more relevant than in a high-intensity pitching situation. Improv training gives you the chance to practise presenting with a complete confidence which comes from your connection to the people in the room, and each other.
Silencing the inner critic
We recognise that often there will be a little voice in your ear as you stand up in front of people to present something. It will tell you that you are not good enough, that you don’t know what you are talking about, you look stupid, you sound silly and people will surely recognise you as a fraud.
In short, impostor syndrome. We have learned to deal with this voice (we have a different name for it that I will not put in print!), to let it say it’s piece and then ignore it and continue to be in the moment and engaged with what we are doing and those around us.
You can practise shutting down your inner critic and instead trusting in your own ability to think on your feet, adapt to new situations and keep your listeners engaged, using improv.
Then when you are next in a real delivery situation, no need to picture the audience naked any more, you will instead be putting into practise the skills you have already tried, tested and honed in your workshop.
Presentation skills for online and face-to-face situations
It’s not just to stand-up-in-front-of-a-room-full-of-delegates presentations that need work. The need for presentation skills has become particularly heightened during the Covid-19 pandemic, where presentation via Zoom and other platforms hugely limits our access cues such as body language, or the atmosphere you walk into in a physical room.
This has caused us all at times to question our previously tried and tested approaches communication, and has found many of us wanting.
In a meeting, conference, over the internet or face to face, we all rely on our communication skills, and these can always be improved.
We have worked with software engineers, pharmaceutical sales teams, investment bankers and consulting firms among many others. They have all come to us to help to improve the way they come across to other people.
How can improv be such a panacea when everyone is different?
Our improv training delivered in-house, in neutral venues or through live remote training sessions can elicit a huge range of responses and learning that is as individual as you are.
We are often asked to focus on specific hard and soft skills, such as giving presentation skills training. But in reality, it’s never about the generic skill, it’s always about the people in the room, on that day, and the energy, motivation, commitment, level of distraction that each person brings with them in that moment.
We are highly experienced at picking exercises that will hone particular skills. However, we are also prepared to improvise our facilitation to fit the needs of the individuals and the group on the day.
It is often reported to us that people have understood aspects of themselves and their colleagues that were utterly surprising and delightful to them that they could have had no inkling of beforehand.
What you might cover on an improv course focussed on sales pitch and presentation skills
- Present on task and on message whilst remaining flexible to your client’s signals
- Listen and respond effectively to the mood in the room
- Be totally focussed and ‘in the moment’ during a high pressure pitch
- Work at a deeply instinctive level with your own colleagues