Back in 2011 I did a post highlighting 5 tips for using props and visual aids in delivering a sales presentation. It’s an overview of an exercise we perform in the Dale Carnegie Course to help participants make effective use of physical props when presenting their ideas in front of a group.
Recently I did an update to this post for a fellow instructor in Modesto. It includes how these ideas relate to your delivery when you use PowerPoint in your presentation.
In addition to these 5 tips, here’s another point that needs highlighting.
When you are presenting your ideas, realize that you are the message. It doesn’t matter if you are performing a marketing presentation in front of a group of clients, a sales demonstration in front of your customers, or an engineering review in front of your peers. You are the message and the message must address your audience’s needs. Only then should you begin tailoring the PowerPoint slide deck and planning for props to accentuate your message.
I’ve seen too many instances where perfectly capable speakers put all their effort into designing a beautiful presentation with no real legs because they didn’t establish what the audience wanted first.
I was once being interviewed for a position as a sales engineer. The interviewing manager said, “You get a request to do a presentation. What do you do?”
Thinking this was an easy process question, I outlined that I would start asking the client questions about the audience, questions about what they were looking for, questions about how much time would be involved, etc.
This manager shocked me by saying, “No, that’s wrong. You need to go down to marketing and get the sales presentation.”
I’m sure that was the expedient solution. However, in my time as an instructor and speaker, I’ve discovered when you are delivering a presentation, you need to know your audience. When you are delivering a sales presentation, you REALLY need to know your audience!
Every year, some research group conducts a sales survey with customers to get their feedback on the sales experience. These surveys always identify one of the biggest problems customers have with sales reps is the inability for sales reps to stop talking about their fabulous products and listen to what the client wants.
If you are about to step in front of a group of executives to sell your case, you don’t have the right to feel confident because “you’ve been practicing that fabulously generic sales presentation from marketing all week.” You may be able to deliver the presentation, but you won’t be speaking to your audience’s interests. I’ve seen presenters deliver well-rehearsed presentations to indifferent audiences because they weren’t addressing what their audience wanted and the presentations always flopped.
When you are developing your presentation, take a page from the digital marketing playbook. Create an image of your audience and then identify their wants, needs, interests and desires. Or, better yet, ask the person bringing you in directly about the audience you’ll be in front of. Then, design your message to address those wants, needs, interests and desires.
Only after you know what your audience is looking for can you create your message. And only then can you begin to install your presentation features like your PowerPoint presentation and your props.
Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse. Tailor your message to your audience first to get maximum impact.