Tag Archives: sales presentations

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

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!

The 3rd Annual Oscar Best Presentation Awards


Chris Rock Oscars 2016

You already know who won the Oscars for the announced categories, but do you know who won the award for Best…or Worst Presenter?  Or the Best “Addressing the Elephant in the Room?” If you look at The Oscars from a sales perspective, it’s a great collection of mini-presentations and monologues given in front of a live and virtual audience with short attention spans and high expectations. Which makes it the perfect setting to understand what works when presenting to a business, what doesn’t and why. Here are the results of my 3rd Annual Oscar Presentation Awards and the sales takeaways: Best “Addressing the Elephant in the Room:” Chris Rock With his first line, “Welcome to the white people’s choice awards,” Chris Rock took on the negative press about the lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees. He handled a sensitive subject that had received major press the weeks leading up Read More

Is your presentation built to persuade? The anatomy of a persuasive presentation


Agreement, two managers offering collaboration

Presentations, like movies, television shows, and speeches typically follow a basic three-act structure invented by Aristotle: they have an opening, a body, and a conclusion. There are many variations on that structure and each serves a different purpose – whether it’s to entertain, inform, or inspire. As a salesperson it’s not enough for your prospect to walk out and be “well-informed” or say “that was a fun presentation.” To drive your prospect to take action, you need a structure designed to persuade. Research shows that the structure proven most effective in persuading audiences divides your presentation into three parts: Situation, complication, resolution. This structure works for a variety of reasons: it places the focus on your prospect’s challenge or objective — rather than your product, service, or company — and it organizes your message in a way that can shift your prospect’s perception, open her mind to new ideas, and Read More

Stop Fighting for Attention! Use Real-Time Polls to Increase Audience Engagement!


Business team using their mobile phone

Tired of fighting with a smartphone for your prospect’s attention during your sales presentation? Stop fighting and embrace it by using the power of real time polls to promote audience engagement and reinforce your message! The Power of Gamification Real-time polls come from the world of gamification — the use of game elements like scoring, rules, and competition – and are an effective new tool to have in your presenter’s toolkit. By combining mental focus, physical activity, and ongoing action, real-time polls are an excellent way to gain audience attention, drive learning and retention during your presentation or demonstration: Power up your Q&A: Asking your audience for a show of hands is so 20th century. Posing a thought-provoking question on a topic that leads into your presentation and asking your audience to weigh in on their smart phones and show them the results in real-time? Now you’re moving into the new Read More

3 Questions Your Sales Presentation Must Answer


3 Questions Your Sales Presentation Manager Must Answer

There are as many variations in the content and structure of a sales presentation as Beyonce has wardrobe changes, but when it comes down to the question it must answer in your prospect’s mind, it will typically fall into one, two or all three of the following: Why should I buy this product or service? Why should I buy from you? Why should I buy now? Knowing which question(s) you must address is critical to how you structure and position your message —  one reason why doing a thorough discovery is so important. (For tips on the 5 things you must do in your discovery call, click here.)  Here are the key things to take into consideration when addressing each type of question in your presentation: Why should I buy this product or service? Your prospect may not yet be convinced that your product or service is the answer to Read More

5 Must Know Tips for Mobile Presentations


Sales presentation on a tablet or iPad

Mobile presentations on iPads and tablets are rapidly becoming the vehicle of choice for many salespeople.  And why not? They’re light-weight, fast, flexible, and they set a less formal tone for smaller or more casual presentations. Presenting with a tablet or iPad allows you to walk around, switch between apps, and often foster a more interactive sales presentation. But beware, because tablets came on to the scene so quickly, too many salespeople are learning how to present on a mobile device through trial and error — a risky proposition when the stakes are high. Here are 5 must-know tips for delivering a mobile presentation on your iPad or tablet. Use a stand If you’re presenting directly on your tablet (for one or two people max) you need a stand. It’s physically impossible to hold a tablet perfectly still for more than a minute; every time you look up or shift position, Read More

Lessons on teamwork from Team USA Soccer Champions


Business people celebrating Soccer

Team USA dominated the FIFA World Cup Soccer Championship and showed us what truly great teamwork looks like by making it possible for captain Carli Lloyd to score three out of the five winning goals. Team USA made it look easy, but like most winning team efforts, it involved tireless practice, clearly defined roles, a shared vision, and a strong game plan. “We executed the game plan and we got it done.” Carli Lloyd, Team USA Captain While you may not be competing for a world championship, team presentations often mean big dollars at stake as well as a significant investment of time and company resources. In order to win, it’s critical that like Team USA, your team has a clear game plan and comes across as a well-cast ensemble with consistent messaging and seamless transitions. After all, the way you interact together as a team gives your prospect a preview of what it will Read More

Does your presentation close — or simply come to an end?


Courtroom Trial - does your presentation close or simply come to an end?

Imagine being on trial – you’re not guilty of course − and after the final witness’ testimony your lawyer simply rests her case and leaves it up to the jury to make sense of all of the evidence and deliver whatever verdict they feel appropriate. Would you be happy? I don’t think so. Yet most sales presentations end something like this, “Well, I guess that’s it. Thank you for having us and we’ll open it up to questions.” While the presentation certainly came to an end, that doesn’t qualify as a sales presentation closing. Closing is a process that either completes a sale or moves you one or two steps closer to it. If all you’ve accomplished is gotten to the end of your presentation but not asked for a verdict, you have  not really closed. Back to your trial… What would you want your lawyer to do at the Read More

Avoid these questions to eliminate the silent treatment during your presentation


Bored businessman - eliminate the silent treatment

  Today’s sales presentations aren’t the one-way monologues of old. Audience’s not only expect to be engaged, but your message will have greater impact and recall if they are actively participating in the presentation. Posing a question is a quick and easy way to engage your audience. People are naturally curious and a good question will stimulate their thinking right away.  So why do I hear so many post-presentation comments from sellers like these:   What a boring group! They just stared at me when I asked them a question!”   I asked a bunch of questions, but half of them were busy texting!” I get it. It’s uncomfortable to throw a question out there and see a bunch of blank faces staring back at you in silence.  And it’s tempting to want to blame lack of response to our questions on our audience, but the truth is that asking questions alone Read More

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