“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
I looked at my blackberry for the 800th time, hoping there would be a message that read “get out of the hotel ballroom immediately, you have a meeting starting now!” No such luck. Instead, I got to listen to a series of presenters talk about their products. I got the feeling that each presenter was bored out of their mind before they took the time to bore us out of our minds. I would have welcomed a little nervous energy. Heck, I would have welcomed sweat marks under the arms if it would have pepped up the delivery.
Each presenter had slick slides that looked like magazine ads, and they read words like:
• Have you ever thought about how much you could do with [our product]?
• We can give you the sales lift you need.
• Statistics show that our product is the best [what a shocker!].
Let’s face it – nobody has the time to listen to a presentation that has no direct benefit to them. In addition, people have learned to distrust statistics. Most of us know that you can find a numerical value to support any selling point. Presentations can be insanely powerful, because they allow you the time to sell a dream rather than a product. Maybe it’s the dream of being the top bank in the country, or of a better future for your children, or of a better personal life. People find the time to listen to stories that engage their hearts by discussing dreams.
Here are a few pointers for your next presentation that will help you connect to the heart first:
1. Have passion for your topic. If you don’t, don’t present it. Or at least don’t expect to persuade your audience.
2. Show pictures that you can speak to, but avoid slides with words. They serve only as a crutch to the presenter, and cause weaker salespeople to (God forbid) read the slides. Pictures create visual stories that become an energizing framework for the verbal accompaniment.
3. Protect your presentation. Marketing and Communication groups will want to “refine” it, which often means you lose the energy as communications perfects the language and marketing makes sure it supports their “brand” at the cost of connecting in a way that sells.
4. Start with a story that connects to your audience. Example: If you’re presenting a client experience topic to a small bank, visit one of their branches before your present and talk to them from the eyes of a customer.
5. In your story, be sure you are the hero to a described villain (a solution to a problem). Steve Jobs always sets up something as the antagonist to his protagonist. He started one presentation with “Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? Was George Orwell right?”
6. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel your solution. Start with your passion, tie the need for your product to their lives through story, support with facts, and then conclude the story in a way that transfers your passion to them. Most importantly, do something that makes your product a tangible solution.
Steve Jobs is the master presenter, and if you want a great read on making presentations read “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience” by Carmine Gallo. He knows how to make an audience feel excitement. When introducing the MacBook Air, he took a standard manila envelope used for internal communications and said “This is the MacBook Air, so thin it even fits inside one of those envelopes you see floating around the office.” With that comment, he picked up a manila envelope and pulled out a notebook computer. And, the crowd, went, wild!
Think about how you can make your presentation live and breathe, think about how your words will connect with the emotions of the audience, and you’ll win. Many people think about doing this, but get pushed back into the box by those who have their own agendas and are worried about the risk. Well, be careful and you’ll be one of a million salespeople. Take the risk to engage the heart and you’ll be on in a million!