Friday September 20, 2013
PR Academy PR Diploma graduate Josette Lesser specialises in coaching people to communicate effectively. She recently co-authored a book on ‘How to give the Ultimate Sales Presentation’, so we thought we’d ask her to share her advice on how communicators should pitch themselves in order to persuade others to support an idea. Read on for her top tips and to find out how she got started in PR.
What made you choose a career in PR and communications?
I’m not aware of it being a conscious choice. I do remember sitting on my school desk with one of my classmates (Roderick Buchanan!), when I was eight years old, and telling him that I was going to be a journalist. I’m not sure I actually knew what that meant at the time, though.
At what point did you decide to study for the CIPR Diploma in PR – and why?
Quite a way into my career. I had already set up and run a small PR, promotions and events company in my 20s. I say small, but I had Unisys and Pepsi Cola on my client list. And I was already a media and presentation skills coach. I think I just felt that it was important to have all the right credentials. I had my Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) membership, and doing the Diploma and joining the CIPR seemed to complement that.
How has what you learnt studying for the PR Diploma helped you in your work?
I definitely take a more academic approach to my training now. And at the level I coach that is important.
What led you to work as a consultant?
Circumstances, and always saying “yes” to opportunities. The first media training I did was with a Brigadier who was doing a radio interview with me. A few days before his appearance, he told me he wasn’t in a position to answer any of my questions! I spent a day training him, and the interview went really well. Then I got asked to train more people, and it escalated.
What are your top tips for communicators regarding how they should present themselves in order to be effective at persuading others to support an idea or position?
1. Consider your target audience. What would be the benefits to them if they were to go with your proposal? Use those benefits in your presentation.
2. Shape your presentation. This avoids waffle, and helps you to make your points clearly. Everything you say should have a beginning, middle and an end. Or, to put it another way: an introduction, your key points (try to keep it to three – all with a beginning, middle and an end), and a summary with a call to action.
3. Choose your words carefully. For example, using phrases such as “I think” or “I hope” are really saying “I’m not sure”.
4. Make sure your presentation runs to time. Find out how long you have. Will there be a Q&A session? Is this included or additional to your allocated time? A presentation can run slightly under time, but if they have to stop you . . . well, you’ll probably have failed.
5. Practice, practice – and when you’ve done that practice again!! And always time yourself . . . which should help you with point 4!