Like any good performance, a presentation must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Plus, it must be easy to hear, so your audience “gets it” and responds positively. Let’s be clear; you present to sell.
To deliver a winning sales presentation you must:
* differentiate yourself from your competitors
* convince your audience you are worth listening to–by being easy to hear
* deliver information so that it is understood and appreciated
* keep your audience listening and engaged from the very first information.
Too many presenters waste their most important opening minutes with the standard “Thank you for inviting us” quickly followed by the “My name is…” and sailing right into the “I’d like to introduce you to our team.” If that’s what you do, you are achieving the exact opposite of what you intend. First, you sound like everybody else. Secondly, your beginning is immediately forgettable. And finally, you have given your audience good reason to disengage right from the get-go. Indeed, you are seriously out of tune with the needs of a listening audience.
When you want to win, you need a perfect pitch. Here’s the how and why in 7 easy steps.
Begin with your Big Message–the one you have polished until it sings.
Research tells us that most people confronted with a stream of information forget almost all of it. In fact, you’d be lucky if your audience remembers two or three specifics from your presentation. In reality, the details you present are not the basic factor in making the sale. Your Big Message is. Open with your message and your audience will remember it.
Your Big Message is the main thing you want your audience to know about you. It is the strong statement of fact that sets you except your competitors and resonates with your audience so they listen up and respond positively.
Your Big Message is the big reason–in sentence form–that convinces your audience they need you. Polish it, improve it and open with it before you get to a information of content–already before you introduce yourself. Once you state your message–if it’s a good one–your audience is engaged. Now you may introduce yourself.
Organize and deliver your content around three–maximum four–main topics. These are the topics or subjects that sustain or prove your message.
People understand information only when they can organize it into a logical structure so it makes sense. Make remembering easy by organizing information into three definite topics.
Imagine your message is something like: Our equipment is better built, more reliable and easier to use than any other on the planet. The topics you then choose must sustain or prove that message. So let’s say for this message your three topics are technology, design and return on investment. That’s it. The rest of your content must go under those three headings.
Now, whether you are asked to present at warp speed, or are expected to speak for twenty minutes or considerably longer, you can bet your audience will forget the detail, the minutia, the facts and the figures. Short or long, a well planned presentation follows a three-topic structure. The difference between them is in the amount of detail you put under each heading.
So–and this is the kicker–no matter how long your presentation is, when it is structured in three sections–or maximum four–your audience remembers your message because you opened with it. What’s more, already if they forget all the details, they will remember you talked about three big concepts that prove your message: technology, design and return on investment. And after all, that’s what is really important.
Reinforce your big message with a visual metaphor.
Pictures are more noticable than words. Pictures can immediately include your audience and subliminally reinforce the message you want to convey.
Words matter. Visuals make a difference. The more careful you are in tying everything together with an inner theme, the more noticable your pitch becomes. If, for example, your big point is that you are the best at putting all the pieces together, you might use a carpentry image as a background throughout and reinforce your message with titles that tie in to the image–titles that begin with words like Building or Crafting or Cementing. Or if you want your audience to know you have a specialized team to work on their behalf, you might use a sports metaphor with a team picture as the background on your slides. Your topic titles should then fit with the sports theme.
Picking appropriate titles to match your theme adds a touch of creativity while highlighting your inner message.
Use your slides as a visual aid, not a reading exercise; eliminate as much text as you can.
Good eye contact is the meaningful to connecting with your audience. You cannot connect when everyone is reading from the screen. If you must, use bullet points to keep yourself on track or to point out meaningful features or benefits. Eliminate sentences or anything else that requires reading.
Do not give your audience text to read while you speak. Research explains that people course of action visual material and verbal material in different areas of the brain–on separate channels. Listeners can digest information on only one channel at a time–which method that if they are reading, they cannot listen to you.
Research also reports that the more senses you can stimulate, the more you enhance information retention. If you can stimulate the visual cortex with a remarkable picture while you orally deliver information to stimulate the hearing sense, you have doubled the chances of your audience remembering anything you say.
Don’t worry about forgetting something. This is your stuff and you could talk for hours about it. What’s more, if you do leave something out, your audience will never know.
Do not print your PowerPoint slides to use as handouts. Create separate, reader-friendly documents.
A well written handout is proof that the presentation you delivered is valid and true. PowerPoint slides are designed to be visuals–the exact opposite of reading documents. Slides are horizontal; documents are vertical. Slides are on dark backgrounds; documents are on white paper. Slides use huge fonts; documents use reading fonts no bigger than 10-12 point because bigger than that is truly harder to read on paper. There’s lots more, but you get the idea.
And while Microsoft indicates you use your slides as a handout, it’s a big mistake to do so. Handouts that look and read like real documents provide a huge advantage because they are readable and people truly read them. Imagine that! Feel free to include all the facts, data, detail and minutia you want, and spread them before the Q and A.
End your presentation by returning to your opening Big Message.
Your Big Message is the hook on which everything else hangs. Once you finish delivering content, repeat the Big Message you began with–to remind your audience what sets you apart. What’s more, when you end where you began, your presentation has the seamless and satisfying quality of a good performance.
When that’s done, it’s time for Q&A.
Practice with a coach to be sure you present with warmth, energy and real language. It’s all about your “likability factor.”
A good coach can make the difference between an amateur performance and a specialized one. Remember, your goal is not to be slick, it is to be likable–which requires a careful blend of confidence, energy and enthusiasm.
It’s hard to estimate your own performance. It’s nearly impossible to gauge how likable you are to an audience. A coach will check to be sure you make good eye contact and speak conversationally, that your body language is open and welcoming, that you appear warm and friendly. A coach will make sure your voice is pleasant, that your passion shows, and that your delivery hits all the right notes.
When making the sale is important, you want a specialized’s insightful feedback to help polish your delivery.
Follow these 7 steps and become the likable, noticable, easy-to-hear presenter you know you can be. That’s a perfect pitch!