Sales Training: Three Principles for Giving Effective Presentations

Do your presentations at sales training events engage, inspire and inform or just put the audience asleep?

Presentations during sales training events are usually designed to educate or inform salespeople. Although the content is important it’s your delivery that makes the difference. If you want your presentations to enhance the content and not detract from it , keep them clear, concise, and geared to two-way communication. Your presentations will be more effective if you keep in mind the following principles:

Principle #1: Effective presentations motivate people to listen.

Every speaker has to overcome barriers to listening that are due to the following:

  • People think about four times faster than they speak
  • Attention spans are relatively short when people are only listening
  • People are more attentive to emotion than to logic
  • People listen to what they like or want to hear
  • Dull presentations are easily ignored
  • People often have difficulty discriminating between essential and nonessential information

If people aren’t motivated to listen they won’t learn. The listening and therefore learn happens when people believe what’s presented will benefit them in some way. A presentation that focuses on understanding through participation, relevancy and mutual respect usually provides the most successful atmosphere for learning. For example, if you can show your salespeople how to apply what you present on the job, they will be more interested in learning.

Principle #2: Effective presentations consist of proper language delivered clearly. Just as punctuation modifies the written word, the use of inflection modifies the spoken word. The rate and intensity with which you speak and your variations in pitch give much meaning to what you say.


  • Consistently audible tone of voice
  • Energy and enthusiasm
  • Simple, unpretentious language
  • Language right for the occasion and to salespeople
  • A variety of words to describe ideal and concepts that occur frequently


  • Inadequate or excessive volume
  • An unenthusiastic style
  • Buzz word, jargon, and overly formal terms
  • The same terms and words all the time, or a monotonous pattern of speech
  • Very slow or very fast rates of speech

Principle #3: Effective presentations use good platform skills. The following delivery techniques will increase the effectiveness of your presentation:

  • Facial Expressions. You can communicate enthusiasm and interest in your subject by using facial expressions to show your own interest and to emphasize points.
  • Posture. You convey your attitude toward your message through your posture as well as your facial expressions. Poor posture, such as slouching over a flip chart, detract from your professional appearance and imply a lack of interest on your part.
  • Movement. Some movement in front of your listeners is desirable; it keeps their attention on you and helps pace the presentation. However, too much movement or movement at to brisk a pace is distracting and makes you seem hurried. A way to compromise is to walk among the group as you speak so that you keep them involved and add your personal contact.
  • Hand Gestures. Hand gestures, like facial expressions, punctuate a message and add interest. However, if your hands are in continuous motion, they will detract from the message. Try placing your hands in your pockets, gesturing to make a point, and standing with your hands in front or back of you can all be used effectively when making your presentation.
  • Eye Contact. Eye contact is a powerful tool for focusing your message and encouraging involvement from the group. If people ask you a question, focus on the person as you begin to respond, then turn your glance to the entire group or begin focusing on other people to bring them into the discussion and show you want to include them. A common mistake is to look at only a few salespeople during a presentation. Doing this for long periods of time excludes others and may make you seem less interested in them.
  • Confidence. People are more likely to believe a speaker who is forceful or confident in delivering his or her message than one who stammers or hesitate when speaking. You show confidence when your delivery is smooth, poised and evenly paced.

Keep these three principles in mind when preparing your next presentation. Using what we covered will make your presentations more engaging, relevant and well received.

For more information on how to improve your sales training skills go to:

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