Category Archives: Presentation tips

Does Your Presentation Have One of These Bad Movie Endings?


Have you ever sat through a good movie, only to leave disappointed or confused by a bad ending?  Like a movie, a presentation can build up a lot of good will, only to tear it all down in those final few moments.  Some endings seem to go on forever, Lord of the Rings style, or leave your audience with more questions than they started with (No Country for Old Men or Inception anyone?)  Whether they’re poorly constructed or executed, bad presentation endings leave a bad taste in the mouths of prospects and can undo all your hard work. Luckily, bad presentation endings – like bad movies – can be avoided. 4 Bad Presentations Endings Here are four bad  presentation endings  – movie style –  I see presenters making and how to make sure they don’t happen to you.  Note, movie SPOILERS ahead! 1.  The Never-ending Ending Example: Lord of the Read More

Start with Why – 3 “Why” Questions to Increase Your Presentation’s Success


If you’ve ever sat through a presentation and thought, “Why am I here?” you are not alone.  Most presentations fail to answer this most fundamental question until five, ten – even thirty minutes into the content. Presentations that do not quickly answer the question “Why?” are frustrating, confusing, and cause distraction-prone audiences to tune out.  In his popular TED Talk, Start with Why, Simon Sinek proposed that people won’t fully buy into a product, service or concept until they understand the “why.” Start with why is how all great presentations begin.  But… Starting with why is, well…just the start.  To really connect with today’s buyers and increase your presentation’s success, it’s important to know which “why” you are addressing in your presentation.  This isn’t as daunting as it seems.  The underlying “why” for most prospects typically boils down to one of the following: Start with Why : Why should I Read More

Say “Hello” to the Conversational Presentation


What comes to mind when you hear the word, presentation?  For many it conjures up the image of a salesperson holding court in front of a group, typically with a slide deck and limited audience participation.  But this formal monologue is simply one type of presentation style in a broad spectrum of choices about how to communicate with potential customers.  In fact, it’s a style that is waning in popularity and effectiveness (for reasons you can read more about here.)  So what is in style?  Say “hello” to the conversational presentation. The majority of reps today are in front of customers in less formal circumstances, whether it’s a doctor’s office or waiting room, across the table from a prospect, or via webcam.  You may prefer to call these more informal customer facing events conversations.  And conversations are great.  They are typically a two-way exchange and more  fluid than a linear Read More

The Oscars Best (and Worst) Presentations – and what you can learn from them


Oscars

The stars, the clothes, the mix-ups! But underneath it all, the Oscars are really a collection of short presentations delivered to an audience with short attention spans and high expectations. If that sounds like a business presentation to you, it should! Each year I like to highlight the Oscars best and worst presentations and glean what we can learn from them as business presenters. Here are my top awards from this year show. See if you agree. The Oscars Best and Worst  Presentations …and what you can learn from them Best Disaster Recovery: Jordan Horowitz, LaLa Land Calling out LaLa Land as the winner for Best Picture was clearly an unprecedented Oscar disaster. But let’s look at the bright side. After discovering that Moonlight was the actual winner, producer Jordan Horowitz had the soundness of mind to succinctly announce the mistake and graciously relinquish the stage to the cast and crew of Moonlight. “I’m going to be really Read More

Beware the Sales Zombie: Lessons from The Walking Dead


zombies

For most audiences, it’s hard to distinguish one zombie from the next. While the on-screen zombies may exhibit varying degrees of decay or gore, the dead eyes and extended arms as they lumber towards their prey is replicated over and over.  Rarely does an individual zombie stand out or receive credit for his performance.  In the eyes of the audience and the director, they are merely scenery.  In fact, like most show extras, they are often referred to as “background.” A salesperson is in danger of being part of the background as well when they follow the crowd or continue to do things the way they’ve always been done in their presentations or conversations.  Turning into a sales zombie is a real danger as blending in with everyone else makes it difficult for prospects to differentiate you from the competition, much less buy your product or service.  So how can Read More

Presentation Myths Busted

7 Presentation Myths – Busted! Get the Facts Before Your Presentation

A lot of advice on giving a presentation has been floating around since fax machines and uninformed buyers roamed the Earth.  Some of these presentation myths are urban legends, and some have simply reached their expiration date. Regardless of their source, these practices are capable of derailing your presentation, damaging your credibility, and causing your audience to tune out.

Like the popular television show Myth Busters, (No, your microwave will not blow up if you microwave a metal bowl!) I set out to “Bust” or “Confirm” some of the more common presentation myths I hear today.

7 Presentation Myths Busted

1.  All presentations should follow the 10-20-30 Rule  BUSTED

This widely quoted advice from Guy Kawasaki states that no presentation should use more than 10 slides, last longer than 20 minutes or use less than a 30 pt type.  In my experience, bad presentations can have three slides or 103 slides. They can be 10 minutes long or an hour. While this “rule” is rooted in selective facts (average attention span of about 20 minutes) it doesn’t take into account that you can actually “reset” that attention span to keep audience engagement high. Good news for presenters with more complex solutions!

Ultimately it is not the number of slides or minutes that determine whether a presentation is good or bad.  It’s the quality of those slides (All bullet points? Stock images?), how they’re presented (are you reading them to your audience? Are you interacting with them?) and whether that presentation is structured to align with audience attention spans.

Read more about maintaining attention in your presentation here.

2.  Never turn your back on your audience BUSTED

Of course you don’t want to have your back to your audience for an extended period of time, but a strict adherence to this old wives tale leads to all sorts of unnatural behavior.  I’ve seen presenters do weird cha-cha movements across the stage to avoid baring their back.  Or conversely, presenters remain tethered to their laptop or podium like a dog on a chain. If your movement is purposeful (i.e., to get somewhere), take the most direct route possible and be sure your back is not to your audience when you’re delivering a key message.

3.  The first 2-3 minutes of your presentation are the most important.  CONFIRMED

Research and Garr Reynolds, the author of Presentation Zen, agree with me here.  People form first impressions very quickly (7-15 seconds!), and those first impressions determine how people listen to you and perceive you.  Therefore it’s absolutely critical that you get your opening right.  According to The Charisma Myth: ‘CEO’s and HR pros admit they’ll decide whether to hire someone in the first few seconds.”  Spending a little extra time on your opening to make sure it truly reflects your message and your prospect’s best interests, has a major impact on the outcome of your presentation.

4.  Start your presentation by telling your audience about yourself and your company.  BUSTED

If #3 is true then #4 must be false.  Talking about yourself is not the highest and best use of those first few minutes. Start with something of interest to your prospect, like an insight into the problem you’re there to solve, or a preview of a potential benefit your solution delivers.  Get rid of the company overview.  It is highly unlikely that you and your company are a complete mystery to your audience.  Studies show that B2B buyers do up to 2/3 of their research before even contacting a company.  Don’t use those valuable first few minutes regurgitating what your audience likely already knows!

5.  Too much practice will make you appear phony.  BUSTED

Of all the presentation myths, this is perhaps the silliest. Presentations are one of the few crafts where practice is given a bad rap.  Imagine telling Michael Phelps to spend less time in the pool!  Proper practice gives you the skills and the confidence you need to focus on your audience during your presentation. What makes presenters appear phony is not practice, but “poor practice.”  If you practice any skill incorrectly you will simply reinforce already ineffective behaviors. Want to ensure your practice correctly and improve dramatically?  Practice with an experienced coach.

6.  Never read from your slides BUSTED

Blasphemy, I know!  But hear me out:  While most of the time you should NOT be reading your slides, there is an important exception to this rule.  If your slide has a short  (1-2 sentences) quote, statistic or key statement on it, go ahead and read it along with your audience. They’ll be reading it anyway. And this practice keeps you from the temptation to jump ahead and talk about something else while your audience is still reading from the slide.

7.  Close with Q&A.  BUSTED

When you save Q&A for the end of your presentation you relinquish control of how (and when) your presentation ends.  What if you get a question you can’t answer or one that incites negative discussion? Or, what if an audience member keeps the rest of the group hostage with a barrage of questions? Instead of leaving your audience with a strong, closing message that inspires them to move on to the next step, they remember the negative experience.

Take control of your closing and end the party on time with this method.

Don’t let these and other Presentation Myths keep you from getting your message across to your prospects.  Make the most of those hard-won customer-facing moments by getting my monthly Presentation Spotlight Newsletter with critical tips and tactics!

Bad Presentation Advice…and What to do Instead (Part 1)


bad presentation advice

Part of what I do as a presentation coach often involves helping salespeople unlearn bad presentation advice they’ve adopted over the years.  Some of this advice is simply dated, handed down from a time when prospects relied on salespeople to provide them with all their information, or when attention spans were greater than that of a goldfish.  Some of it is advice rooted in good intentions but morphed over the years into more of an “old wives tale” than good advice. Bad advice is not only ineffective, but it can do real damage to a presenter’s credibility and cause audience tune out. Both of which can lower your chances of success.  I’ve compiled a list of  the top offenders I still hear being bandied about in sales and provide some alternatives for what to do instead. Bad Presentation Advice …and What to do Instead “Never turn your back on your Read More

The 2 Secret Sales Weapons You Already Have (and aren’t using!)


Secret weapons

Question:  Two actors are auditioning for one role.  Both are equally qualified and both read from the same script. Yet only one actor wins the role while the other goes home empty handed. Why? Answer:  You may have answered something like:  “the winning actor brought personality to the role, he had charisma, he made the audience feel the lines.”  But whatever your answer was, I bet it didn’t have anything to do with the words he used! This is not unlike what happens in a sales presentation or demo. Many vendor presentations use the same words and even scripts as their competitors.  Things get blurry for our customers — especially as differences between products and services get smaller and buying cycles lengthen.  So while a well-crafted message is a critical component of your presentation, don’t rely on your content to do all the heavy lifting by overlooking the tools right Read More

5 Minute Presentation Tips (Audio): How to Avoid Drowning your Prospect in Features


How to avoid feature spray in your presentation

Got 5 minutes?  Find out 5 ways to avoid drowning your prospect in features in your presentation or demo by listening to this quick MP3 recording: How to Avoid Drowning your Prospect in Features – in less than 5 Minutes! Click on link below to listen to the recording: 5 Ways to Avoid Drowning your Prospect in Features (MP3)   You might find the following posts helpful as well: How to Highlight Value in your Presentation or Demo The Anatomy of a Boring Presentation Sales

Applying the KISS Principle to your presentation


KISS Principle

There’s a disturbing trend among many presenters to pack in as much information as possible in to a presentation or demo, especially as solutions get more complex and face time with prospects more condensed. While it seems like you may be maximizing your allotted time, the effects of too much information can be just as deadly as too little information.  Applying the KISS principle to your presentation (keep it simple stupid) is as important today as it’s ever been. Research shows that most people can remember about three things – and that may be pushing it. Like you, your prospect is bombarded with information on a daily basis.  In fact, the average adult receives about 3000 messages per day!  But of course you have more than three things you want to get across, so what’s the answer? Most presentations try to emphasize too many points, which often has the effect Read More

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