7 Steps to a Powerful Presentation

The reason you make a presentation is to sell an idea. Here are some of the best ideas sales professionals use that you can apply to any presentation:

If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.
– Ben Franklin

1 Prepare: Know your goals and your audience.

Sales professionals know their goal and their audience before they make a presentation. Before preparing your speech, know your goals and understand what the audience wants or expects of you.

The purpose of your presentation is to sell your point of view and get the listener’s buy-in at the end of your presentation. If you are asking for specific actions to be taken, get the audience members agreement on the actions they will take.

If you’re in a business meeting, follow through with a feedback cycle and ask for approval or buy-in in writing at the end of your meeting.

If you want the audience to buy your services or product, don’t include any self-serving commercials about your business. Present only information that the listener can benefit from.

2 Tell the audience WHAT you want them to remember.

The first communication you make must talk about the audience and why they should be compelled to listen to you. Your opening sentences must take a strong and direct stand. It must appeal to the audience’s emotions – to their feelings about the matter.

What one idea do you want the audience to remember the day after your presentation? What do you want them to repeat to others about your presentation? If you’re not clear in communicating this message to your audience, they won’t remember your message – or repeat it to others.

DON’T start your presentation with “Good morning.” DON’T start with a joke, with a thank you, or by telling the audience what you’re going to tell them. DO start with a powerful sentence that communicates the idea you want the audience to remember.

3 Tell the audience WHY they should remember what you say.

Remember “WIIFM” – Your audience wants to know “What’s In It For Me.” Will what you have to say help them? Impact them? Why should they remember what you tell them?

Once you have presented your stand, you must support your idea with at least three (and no more than five) powerful action-oriented ideas. At the end of your presentation, what action(s) do you want your listeners to take? Make sure that you present these ideas to the audience in a clear and specific way.

4 Tell a story.

Your mission is to both inform and entertain. It’s tough to motivate an audience, but a good story can inspire, make people laugh, connect your ideas to feelings – even cause people to take action.

People won’t remember your facts and figures. They will remember a good story. And, if you can make them laugh they’ll be much more likely to remember you.

While stories take longer, your audience would much rather hear a longer presentation filled with relevant stories that inspire them and support your presentation, than a short fact-filled presentation.

Author Mark Wiskup, in Presentation S.O.S., provides a process for transforming your presentation from fact-based to story-based:

1. include a series of details about at least one real or hypothetical person
2. replace industry jargon and numbers with the challenges, decisions and actions of your real person.
3. Describe the result of those actions
4. Tell the audience why they should care.

5 Use a slide presentation to engage the audience.

Use your powerpoint or slide presentation to communicate with your audience, by reinforcing your message and engaging them emotionally. It’s not there as a teleprompter for you. Audience members do not want to watch you read slides to them.

Your slides must emphasize what you say. Don’t put your words on the screen. Rather, use the screen to demonstrate that what you’re saying is true. A great slide will trigger an emotional reaction in the audience. Make all your slides great. For example, if you’re talking about an oil spill in the ocean and you want your audience to take action on this issue, don’t just give facts and graphs – show photos of dead wildlife.

Keep words to a minimum on your slides (less than 10 words per slide), do not use special visual effects, use only high quality photo images, and choose music that supports your message and engages the audience.

6 Make powerful, action-oriented closing statements.
End your presentation with a recap of what you’ve told them. Repeat your opening statement and supporting statements by telling the audience the action you expect them to take. For example: I told you when I started… I’ve asked you to change… I’ve asked you to learn…. I’ve asked you to accept a change in…

7 Leave behind written handouts.
Leave a written handout behind with audience members. Do not give it out at the beginning of your presentation. Do not give them printouts of your slides. Your presentation is to persuade and make the emotional sale. Your written materials provide the proof that what you said was true (it includes facts and figures).

Use just 16 slides for a powerful presentation:

Author Mark Wiskup, in Presentation S.O.S., advocates a 16-slide presentation format, as follows:

Slide #
1: Presentation Action Title
2: Power Sound Bite
(your powerful opening statement)
3: Supporting Statement #1
4 + 5: Data/Info for Supporting Statement #1
6: Story for Supporting Statement #1
7: Supporting Statement #2
8 + 9: Data/Info for Supporting Statement #2
10: Story for Supporting Statement #2
11: Supporting Statement #3
12 + 13: Data/Info for Supporting Statement #3
14: Story for Supporting Statement #3
15: Power Sound Bit Reprise
(recap opening statement, slide #2)
16: Presentation Action Title (slide #1)

“If you can’t get people to listen to you any other way, tell them it’s confidential.”
– Proverb

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