Ten Tips for Show-Stopping Presentations

This week we’re including a guest post from Jonathan Vatner, a staff writer at Hue, FIT’s alumni magazine.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC (for new visitors to this blog, it’s a program for emerging designers created by FIT in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation) focuses on developing an airtight business plan. Sooner or later, designers growing their business will probably have to present their plan or line to potential backers or buyers, so on August 27, DENYC arranged a workshop with Performance of a Lifetime, a consulting and training firm that teaches performance skills to business people.

“Everybody is afraid of public speaking,” said David Nackman, creative director of Performance of a Lifetime. “But we are our own worst critics. Nobody will know if you’re nervous or make little mistakes. No matter what happens, just go with it.” Before giving your next presentation, consider these tips from Nackman and his colleague Maureen Kelly.

1. Don’t “present.” Pretend you’re having a (one-sided) conversation with one person at a time. And walk toward that person; it will make you seem more calm and engaged.

2. Come up with an opening line that’s a little out of context, something interesting or provocative to inspire curiosity from the very beginning. For Jacqueline Stone, owner of Salt + Stone, Nackman recommended she start with her mission statement: “I want to make the world more beautiful, one piece of jewelry at a time.”

3. Choose someone you admire—maybe a celebrity, maybe a colleague—and use some of their mannerisms. It’s called creative imitation, and it helps you be “bigger” in the front of a room.

4. Avoid “hand-washing”—rubbing your hands together while you’re talking. If you don’t have something in your hands, rest one in the other at navel level.

5. It’s perfectly acceptable to stay in one spot. It’s also nice to pick three spots to walk between, during pauses in your talk. As a bonus, it can give you a moment to think when you have a brain freeze.

6. Don’t spell out every detail of your company’s history. Start with the poetic story of your company, then jump ahead with a transition like, “And today?”

7. Slow down. Give your words time to sink in. At the very least, put some “air” around your name and the name of your business. These are the most familiar things to you, and the most important things for your audience to hear clearly.

8. Let yourself take a breath here and there. Human beings don’t talk or think in one long sentence. As Kelly said, “You can end a sentence.”

9. When you feel an “um” coming, stop talking. “Ums” are the sound of gathering your thoughts. Better to do it without the noise.

10. Learn the facts about your business until they come out of your mouth without having to think. Then turn yourself over to the audience, respond to their cues, and give them the feeling that you’re creating something for them.

5 Summer Books to Help You Build Your Fashion Business

Need a good summer book? If so, check out these recommendations given to us by our speakers during our Design Entrepreneurs NYC weekend intensives. Here are a few books that will help you build your fashion business.

  1. “The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever” by Teri Agins
  2. “A New Brand World: Eight Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century” by Scott Bedbury
  3. “The Language of Clothes” by Alison Lurie
  4. “Difficult Conversations” by Stone, Batton and Heed
  5. “Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really” Mean by Berman, Kase and Knight

How Do You Plan a Successful Event? Alice Alan Shoes Tells All

 Alice Chen of Alice Alan Shoes at her Trunk Show

Alice Chen of Alice Alan Shoes

Alice Chen, founder of Alice Alan Shoes and one of our Design Entrepreneurs NYC participants hosts a lot of private events to engage with her customers and also acquire new ones. Her events are strategic, based on her sales goals and planned out in advance. We asked Alice to give us a few tips on how to create a successful event. Here’s what she said:

1. Define your objective and stick to it

Identify what you want to get out of hosting an event.  For example, if your goal is to have a trunk show to clear out samples and last season’s inventory, then all of your subsequent actions must directly work towards it.  Therefore, your top priorities should focus on how to generate sales at your event.

2. Know your invitation list

Reach your objectives by being methodical about your guest list. Invite those who can help you achieve your goal.  If you have a sales objective, your list should consist of existing customers and prospects (intent to buy, not casual window shoppers).

3. Pay attention to the date of the event

You should give advance notice of your event.  Weekly reminders (2-3 weeks ahead) leading up to the event helps you stay relevant on someone’s schedule.  Choose the day wisely, especially around the holidays or the summer.  Be prepared for last minute responses, cancellations and no shows.

 4. Offer something exclusive for the evening

Exclusivity makes all of us feel special.  An exclusive sale rack and/or a discount just for the evening are great ways to entice guests to buy at the event.  Limited time offers create immediacy to make a purchase decision on the spot.

 5. Food and goody bags are a nice to have but not a necessity

Food can lead to greasy hands touching your products, so shy away from it.  Provide some wine and water.  It is nice to unwind with a glass of wine while shopping. A little alcohol could lead to looser wallets.  Giveaways, unless they are useful, will go unused.  Unless you set expectations of freebies, no one will expect it and you can plow that money back into your business.

 6. Master the art of the follow up

Follow up is critical!  A mass thank you email is nice, but a personalized email is best.  Unique messages allow you to continue the dialogue beyond the event. Thank someone for their purchase and encourage her to spread the word. Extend the exclusive offer to those who were iffy.  People appreciate these little things.