+ 353 1 2101934 info@seanweafer.com

© Sean Weafer 2016 All rights reserved

Presentation skills are a critical part of any business advisor’s or senior executive’s skill set. The more senior we become, the more this skill becomes a critical part of our success.

Anyone who wishes to lead or to powerfully influence colleagues and clients should be capable of speaking fluently, persuasively and with power. The ability to speak well – whether it is to our prospects, our clients, our team or our peers and stakeholders is the mark of a person who has the ability to project authority and value and to command attention and respect.

How many times have you attended conferences or business presentations where a speaker has failed to project both confidence and competence because they delivered poor, inarticulate presentations and as a result failed to hold or excite the audiences attention?

In this article I want to present a key factor that can multiply the power of a presentation and more importantly the amount of ‘take home’ that the audience (whoever they are) get from the presentation. This is especially important when one is making a business pitch to prospective clients.

Remember that the quality and number of these ‘take homes’ will ensure that our presentation is both memorable – and profitable.

However what I see repeatedly when I review presentations for clients is that they continue to use the old-fashioned technique of starting all their presentation with ‘who they are’.

They talk about how long they’ve been around, who they’ve worked for, their staff etc. All in the mistaken notion that the prospect or audience actually cares. Here’s the hard truth – the don’t.

The only thing a prospective client cares about at this stage is exactly what benefit they are they going to get as a result of this presentation. They’re thinking ‘How can you solve my problem, save me time, save me money – or just make me feel good’!’

As a result how we structure a presentation is more critical than ever critical and in many cases it is the one area where presentations can go badly wrong right from the start.

We live in a world where the attention span of an audience has become significantly reduced.

Now whether we blame Youtube, computer gaming, smart phones or the ease of ‘channel surfing’ one thing is certain – the attention span of the modern audience has become very short.

Today an audience’s attention is won or lost in the first few minutes of the presentation.

So if that is the case why do people persist in using an outdated presentation structure?

As I’ve already mentioned why is it that I still see presentations that start with the old traditional approach of Why …we are such a great company to do business with….How …we are so great at what we do…..and What (finally) …we can do for you.

What’s the result of this traditional presentation structure to people with limited attentions spans and busy schedules? They have already tuned-out so that by the time we get to the value proposition the decision-makers are no longer engaged.

The traditional presentation structure needs to be inverted – away from the traditional Why, How and What to What, How and Why instead.

Start by changing our presentation to where we now lead with the What …we can do for you. Here is where we can ‘front-end the deliverables’.

State clearly and distinctly for the audience what specifically we can do for them, what they will have when they work with us – and use our original (points of compelling relevance) – so that the language is simple, concise, meaningful and present-tense.

In addition – if we have done our research correctly – we will already know what the ‘pain points’ are for the audience and we can make the opening lines of our presentation show that not only do we understand their pain – but we have the solutions.

Think what a powerful an impact that can make.

We’ve just switched on the audience to the value and benefits in clear simple language that they will get from using our services or products – and we have aligned those benefits with their ‘pain points’ – right from the very first words that we use in the presentation.

Now the question in the audience’s mind is How can we deliver this? They are interested, engaged and seeking answers. They want to know.

Instead of their attention having been lost they are actively listening, filling in the blanks, searching for ways in which their issues can be resolved. They are now ‘on-side’.

Finally the audience will ask Why they should use us as providers and here is where we establish our credibility, experience and resources.  This is the final piece of the journey that the audience has willingly taken with us and where they become convinced of the value of our solution.

So move from the traditional structure of Why, How and What to the more effective and engaging structure of What, How and Why and see your presentation impact soar.

In addition, do try to stop thinking about presentations in the traditional formal manner. People want to be connected, involved and engaged so think about how we structure a dialogue with the audience and not just a monologue.

Think about a conversation and not a presentation.