How Toastmasters almost ruined my presentation


Toastmasters

This may offend some Toastmasters out there, but Toastmasters almost ruined my presentation.  And it could ruin yours too.  Now before you send the Grand Toastmaster after me, hear me out. I was a card-carrying member of Toastmasters for over a year and value much of that experience.  I joined prior to launching my first book as I needed a live (and captive) audience to practice new material on.  My fellow Toastmasters and I would give each other our undivided attention and feedback. While the feedback could vary greatly, I looked for consistent themes that resonated with me. Some of that feedback even helped shape a presentation I still use today. So how did Toastmasters almost ruin my presentation? Toastmasters encourages a dramatized style of speaking that Toastmaster and former club president Al Pittampalli calls “unsuitable for most real-world contexts.” (You can read his article, “Toastmasters has a problem it Read More

A “Scary” Sales Tip from Zombie School


The Walking Dead

It’s not easy to become a zombie.  Every year thousands of people audition for a chance to play a zombie on TV’s hit series, The Walking Dead.  Once they make it through the initial casting process they are enrolled in Zombie School (yes, it’s a real thing) where they will learn what it takes to play the undead and make a chance at the final cut. To stand out from the competition, the director at The Walking Dead’s Zombie School gave the wannabe-zombies some important direction:  Avoid doing the same old arms out in front, stereotypical Frankenstein-type zombie. Don’t just copy what everyone else is doing, make something your own.  His final words of advice: “You have to find your inner zombie.” Whether you’re competing for a role in a hit TV show or a role in your prospect’s business, doing the same thing as everyone else is not a Read More

Stop repeating these 3 things in your presentation. Stop repeating these 3 things in your…


Repetition can be a very effective way to make sure your key ideas are heard and remembered by your prospect.  It’s often helpful to repeat benefits, competitive differentiators, even the customer’s questions or words.  So how can repetition possibly hurt you in sales? Human beings are quick to pick up on patterns. It allows us to sort and select what we give our attention to.  Because of its power, unconsciously used, repetitive behaviors, words or phrases can overshadow and detract from even the most brilliant of presentations or pitches.  For example: John continually asks, “Does that make sense?” after each point. By the 4th time, his audience is mildly annoyed and starting to keep a tally in their head. Like a song played entirely on the note of C, Mark delivers every word of his presentation at the same level. Like the teacher in Charlie Brown, all his audience hears Read More

Are These Words Sabotaging your Presentation?


weak words

I was excited to see one of my students present a powerful new software solution in a recent workshop.  Susan (not her real name) is a smart, professional salesperson who is passionate about what she does. She presented herself well, the presentation was well-organized and tailored to the needs of the customer. So why was the reaction around the room a collective “Ho hum” after Susan finished? Instead of sounding confident and excited about her solution, Susan came across as vague, uncertain and, at times, even apologetic.  Susan sabotaged her presentation with a mere handful of words. I’ve identified a few of the offenders below. Words that Sabotage: I’d just like to take a minute to summarize what we talked about… I think that this may be a good fit for you. This sort of shows you where you’re losing inventory … I hope that you’ve seen some things you’ve Read More

Presenters: Stop ignoring your slides – and annoying your audience! (5 ways to Maximize Audience Attention)


Here’s some news worth celebrating:  The number of presenters tediously reading every slide and bullet point to their audience appears to be on the decline.  But hold off on popping the champagne just yet.  The pendulum is swinging dangerously towards the other extreme – presenters are ignoring their slides altogether. Here’s an example from a presentation I recently observed: On the screen in front of me a slide with a statement in 60 point Arial Bold all but screamed at me.  Naturally I expected the salesperson to mention it.  He did not.  The next slide featured 5 bullet points.  The salesperson brushed them all aside with a quick “you’ve expressed a number of goals in this area” before jumping to the next slide, a short quote.  As I read the quote (I assumed that was what I was supposed to do), he started talking about something else.  I’m not sure Read More

3 Buddhist Principles for Fearless Presentations


You never know where good advice will come from! On a recent flight to Chicago I was seated next to a woman who was also on her way to speak at a conference.  When she found out that I teach presentation skills she shared that she used to be deathly afraid of public speaking.  In fact, so much so that she asked a Buddhist monk for help.  Although not the first source I’d think of in this area, it turned out to be the right solution for her. The monk helped her overcome her paralyzing fear of presenting and now she actually looks forward to speaking to audiences all over the world.  I wanted to share those 3 Buddhist principles with you as well as their application for your presentations: 3 Buddhist Principles for Fearless Presentations Conviction Conviction, or having a strongly held believe that you’re doing something worthwhile, is Read More

Pitch Perfect: 25 Tips for Pitching over the Phone


I work with several inside sales teams who deliver their pitch strictly over the phone.  While not a formal presentation,  discussing your product, idea or service over the phone still requires the same thoughtful planning, preparation and execution. There are some additional challenges sellers face when pitching over the phone however,  like not being able to see your prospect (and vice versa) or have a deck or visuals to support your message.  I’ve compiled 25 of my favorite tips  for overcoming those challenges and improving your success rate.  What would you add? 25 tips for pitching over the phone Find your confidence. Don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t see you sweat.  A lack of confidence comes through loud and clear in your voice. For tips on getting into a confident state, click here. Dress the part. Flip flops or dress shoes? Which makes you feel more professional and confident? Read More

You Don’t Have to Memorize Your Entire Presentation – Just These 5 Things


memorize

So you’ve gotten your new deck, perhaps some talking points, or even a full script.  You may even have seen another team member deliver the pitch or presentation.  Now the challenge you’re facing is not quite the magnitude facing Hamlet, but it can feel quite daunting: To memorize…or not to memorize? Many salespeople tell me they don’t want to memorize their pitch because they want it to be more conversational and fear sounding canned or phony. It’s a common misconception that memorizing lines or too much practice will cause you to sound like you’re performing bad Shakespeare.  But if memorization was the cause of bad line readings people wouldn’t shell out millions of dollars to watch actors in film, on television and at the theater. That canned type of delivery you fear has more to do with A) Not investing the time necessary to put the script into your own Read More

The One Question You Must Ask Yourself Before Your Presentation


Good salespeople ask themselves what they want their prospect to do at the end of their presentation. In other words, what’s the next step to move this sale forward?  That could be a signed contract, a meeting, or a recommendation. But great salespeople ask themselves another powerful question that is instrumental in determining whether that prospect will take the next step or not. And that question is this: How do I want my prospect to feel?  Think about the last time you made a major purchasing decision.  How did you feel before you said “yes?”  Were you excited?  Convinced?  Motivated?  Challenged?  Those are the feelings that are likely to lead to action. So how does your prospect need to feel to take action? Do they need to feel excited?  Then guess what? Your intention needs to be to get them excited!  Likewise, if they need to feel motivated, you need Read More

Deadpool Shows you How to be a Superhero in your Presentation


deadpool 2

Set aside the violence, the snarky humor and the profanity in Deadpool 2, and look for this surprisingly compelling technique Deadpool uses to connect with the movie-going audience.  Those comments the superhero directs straight to you – and not the other actors – is an acting technique called “Breaking the Fourth Wall.” And it can be used for great effect in presentations, meetings, speeches – any time you need to grab your audience’s attention. And you don’t even need super-powers to do it! Breaking the Fourth Wall with your Audience During a performance, an actor typically places an imaginary wall (the Fourth wall) between himself and the audience, going about his business on stage or on camera with the audience acting as passive observers. That distance is fine for drama, but it’s detrimental if you want to move your audience — your prospects — to take action at the end Read More

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Performance Sales and Training: Persuasive Presentation Skills to meet the challenges of today’s B2B Sales Environment