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 presentation. However, if you aren’t prepared to talk about a solution in an engaging and memorable way at some point in the conversation, you are not likely to drive the opportunity forward.
If you desire results from your conversations you can benefit from applying presentation skills, preparation and mindset. Consider what a presentation really is according to Merriam-Webster:
Presentation, definition: “Something set forth for the attention of the mind; a descriptive or persuasive account”
Call it what you like, but what salesperson doesn’t need to win their prospect’s mindshare? Who doesn’t wish to communicate descriptively and persuasively ?! Considering yourself a conversational presenter opens you up to many tools you may not currently be using.
A conversational presentation is an elevated, purposeful two-way conversation with a plan.
Presentation Skills for a Conversational Presentation include:
Whether you call your valuable face-time with customers a presentation or a conversation, winging it is dangerous. Even professional improvisers have a plan. The most effective conversational presentations strike a balance between structure and free-flowing conversation. Without some structure, it’s difficult to maintain control over the conversation. A conversational presentation built on a flexible but proven structure will keep the conversation on track, maintain engagement, and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
- Voice and Body Focus:
Whether you’re standing in front of a large group or sitting across from one person, your voice and body are proven to influence your customer’s perception of you and your solution. But most people don’t think about getting in their best voice or physical state for a “conversation.” Adopting a more presentational mindset means recognizing the power of these tools and leveraging them to make a stronger impression on your prospect.
- Intention: Successful presenters know how they want their audience to feel after their presentation. After all feelings and emotions ultimately drive most sales. What emotions do you want your customer to feel during and after your conversation? Motivated? Curious? Convinced? This clarity of purpose elevates your conversation above the everyday and brings depth and meaning to your words.
- Emphasizing key points.
In a conversation it’s easy for key messages to get buried or go left unsaid. In a conversational presentation, you are prepared to speak about your key message in a conversational, yet impactful way that your prospect will remember long after you have gone (which is often when buying decisions are made!)
- Engaging with your customer.
Salespeople often rely solely on questions to keep their customer engaged in a conversation. But that doesn’t differentiate you from most reps. And what happens when your prospect is tired of being interrogated? The conversation usually ends. The conversational presenter has other tools for keeping their prospect engaged. Whether it’s sharing a story, introducing visuals, whiteboarding, or a poll, the conversational presenter has the advantage of a larger toolkit for keeping busy buyers engaged.
Just like people, presentations come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t limit yourself when so much is on the line by saying “it’s just a conversation.” Leverage the skills, tools and mindset of a presenter to have more memorable conversational presentations that produce results.