Your Next Sales Presentation

Effective Presentations Go Home with the Audience

If you have ever given a sales presentation and walked away saying, "I don't believe they got it," join a terribly large club. Providing information in a format to a varied or possibly large audience in such a way that they can recall any of what you presented an hour, day or month later is a real skill that must be worked on to perfect.

It is key that you first know what your are talking about. Phonies aren't heard. You may feel that you have the valuable gift of being able to BS your way through an entire presentation on any subject providing statistics and relevant facts in such a manner that almost everyone believes you. Most likely, you just bored the heck out of an intelligent audience or possibly defamed whoever it is you represent. Someone who likes hearing themselves speak generally is not winning over anyone but themselves.

Being comfortable in front of a group is a practiced art. I still get a little shaky when I first stand up and introduce myself or accept the podium. Honestly, I get more shaky in front of peers than anywhere near folks I have no connection with. There was an old adage about having a brief case and being more than 100 miles from home made you an expert on just about any subject. With the internet and wifi connections, that can often be challenged.

Know You Stuff

First step is read what you need to know and what you intend to say prior to stepping up in front of a group. Marketing people are going to put a lot of information in packages about their products. Much of what is in there is to reach each possible or potential user of that product or service. If you know why those features and benefits are being outlined then you may have a better handle as to how those items will be expected to be used. Which is a reminder of expectations - your own, what you expect to convey; and your audience, what they expect to garner from your presentation.

Know Your Audience

I was once hired as the Director of the South Carolina Dermatology Association. First, I had no medical background. Second, I really didn't know what they wanted the association to accomplish. Third, I was the fourth Director in 3 years. The last point, being 4th in 3 years, was the most telling. I did a lot of calling on doctors before the first meeting I had to see everyone at. I found out, through the emails coming in from some of the "board" who was the most involved and who was more disengaged. I also found out who would be my biggest detractors. Prior to my first presentation to the group, I found out what the biggest detractor's issues had been with the prior directors. I offered similar questions to other dermatologists when I made calls to them asking if these were issue they were concerned with. One or two were, but many of the other derms were concerned with a few other consistent problems they were having and wanted my help with.

When we finally had our first presentation I was involved with, I thanked everyone for the opportunity to serve them. Then I unveiled a presentation board that would be what guided the discussion for my presentation. My first words being something like, "Having spent the last two months meeting many of you personally or at least by email or phone, these are the most key areas of interest you have asked me to pursue." I knew the doctor that was expecting to bully me read the board and saw her issues as #3 and #8 out of 10. I then said, "My plan is to work on all of these issues, but focus on the top two until they are accomplished then move on down the list, do I have agreement from you - can you please provide a show of hands?" With 85% of the 89 people in the room agreeing with me - she was shut down!

This about this if you are presenting to a new group. See if you can find out what they want you to say prior to the presentation if you are selling something - that is your product will help them achieve a goal easier, make a process less cumbersome, assist in improving an outcome or whatever is important to a group of the people involved in the decision. Even if the top dog is in favor or your competitor, and you come in and ask the group - "If I could achieve the top three intentions of this new product, how many of you would be in favor of using it?" and the top dog sees his staff and others agreeing with you - he/she won't want to lose face going in another direction. But you must know your audience to pull this off.

Make Your Points Stick

If I said to you, "If the glove don't fit, you must....." do you remember acquit? How long ago was the O.J. Simpson trial? It was in 1995. So Johnny Cochran, standing in front of a jury saying, "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit," has stuck with so many people all of these years. When was the last time you thought about what you were going to say to your audience prior to the presentation so they take something home with them? Limerick, gimmick, rhythm, or rhyme, the words you use will stick with time.

Take a bit of time and see if there can be a message, a short quip, that you can inject at least three times in your presentation, that will make a positive impression on your audience. Make it stick. Put it on your handouts. Have it on the board for them to see the whole time you are speaking. If appropriate, ask them to repeat it. Often, it is appropriate but we don't take that step.

I really look forward to hearing your experiences regarding this action.

The Inventurist

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