Category Archives: Presentation tips

3 Ways to Improve Interaction on Virtual Sales Calls

Are you having trouble getting customers to respond and interact when on a virtual call?! The problem is that virtual audiences tend to be more passive – engaging less and observing more.

Here are three quick and easy tips that will really change the level and amount of responsiveness you get from customers when leading a sales call.

Virtual Engagement Tip #1: Pause. Pause. Pause!

It’s time that we, as salespeople, finally embrace the uncomfortable silences! Cringe-worthy, I know, just bear with me.

When on a virtual call, it is imperative that you pause much longer than feels comfortable following a question asked. Here’s why – People need to, one, hear the question and, two, have the time to then process what has been asked of them. Most importantly, if/when there are multiple people on the call, a customer must often consider whether to leave the question to their fellow attendees or answer it themselves. While waiting for an answer, any answer at all, the sales person rushes to fill the silence, unable to stand the quiet any longer. That, my friends, is the death of a sales call, so I encourage you get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Virtual Engagement Tip #2:  Expect an Answer

I hear a lot of so-called questions from sales people that go a little something like this, “What kind of results are you getting today.” Sounding more like a statement rather than an explicit question, this doesn’t elicit the desired result – audience engagement!

You must be very clear, almost painfully so, that you expect a response, an answer to your question. Instead, it should sound something like this, “Tell me, what kind of results are you getting today?” With intentional word choice and the slight modifications in vocal intonation and body language, this second question demands the response you are looking for.

Virtual Engagement Tip #3: Eye Contact is Key

Or, rather, camera contact is key! Meaning this – you need to look at the camera, not the attendees on the screen below, when asking a question. It’s much different to be on the receiving end of a question directed right to your eyes than somewhere at your chin or feet.  By looking into the eye of the camera, you are looking into the eyes of your customers.

There you have it! Three quick ways to improve interaction on customer virtual sales calls. Try them out and do let me know how they work.

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7 Signs your Presentation is Stuck in the Eighties (and How to Modernize it!)


 Ah the eighties.  A great decade for music, parachute pants and PowerPoint!  Launched in 1987, PowerPoint revolutionized the way we pitch to clients and speak to audiences.  PowerPoint is still going strong 40 years later, but in order to better connect with modern audiences they’ve adapted their style with design tips, sharing options, mobile access, etc.  Have you adapted your style as well?  If your presentation is stuck in the eighties, it is as ineffective as trying to stream music on your Sony Walkman. Even if you weren’t around in the eighties, the odds are you may be using old-school presentation techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation.  How do you know if your presentation is stuck in the eighties?  Check the following 7 signs below and follow the tips to modernize your presentation. 7 Signs your Presentation is Stuck in the Eighties   1. “Let me Read More

Step-by-Step: How to Be your own Presentation Coach


how to coach yourself

Coaching is as vital to a presenter as it is to a performer.  If you’re not seeing what your audience is seeing, you’re operating in the dark.  While you may get occasional “drive-by” coaching from a manager, a peer or at a workshop, without a consistent and clear way to gauge progress, many presenters fall back on old habits or end up reinforcing ineffective behaviors.  If you’re invested in your career you need to learn how to be your own presentation coach.  Thanks to technology, coaching yourself is technically “easier than ever”, but there is still a huge barrier most people have when it comes to being objective about your performance.  Or even watching your own performance! As an actor I hated seeing myself on video.  Even if I had received accolades from audience members and directors,  all I could see when I watched were my flaws: a distracting hand Read More

Why a Sales Presentation is Not a Ted Talk


I’m a big fan of Ted Talks. A good Ted Talk can entertain, inspire, or expose you to new ideas and perspectives.  And as a presenter, there are lots of great lessons to take away from Ted Talks.  But make no mistake, a sales presentation is not a Ted Talk.  And it’s dangerous for sellers to model their presentation after one.  Here’s why: You must have a call-to-action. Unlike a Ted Talk, it’s vital that your prospect to do more than feel “inspired” or “informed” after your sales presentation.  You want them to take action.  While the best Ted Talks do a good job of ending in a memorable way, don’t be tricked into thinking that being memorable can substitute for a clearly defined call-to-action.  Get tips on calls-to-action that work here. It’s not a monologue. Ted Talks are monologues. There’s nothing wrong with a monologue, but research shows that Read More

Put Some Pizzazz in Your Presentation


Thanks to the impeachment hearings, “pizzazz” has gotten a lot of media exposure lately.  Political analysts on one side claim the legal proceedings lacked the “pizzazz” necessary to hold the public’s attention.  The other side claims the facts speak for themselves, pizzazz completely unnecessary. I’m not going to weigh in on the debate about whether pizzazz belongs in our legal system or not, but I do want to address the slightly less-heated, but ongoing debate around whether pizzazz belongs in sales presentations. Like our political parties, one camp of sellers insist that “the facts speak for themselves.” While the other camp is always looking for more ways to package or deliver their message in a way that makes a greater impact on their audience.  In other words, they are looking to add some “pizzazz” to their presentations. Why Should you Put some Pizzazz in your Presentation? What is pizzazz anyway? Read More

The Power of Show and Tell:  3 Ways to use Props in your Sales Presentation or Pitch


Show and tell

For many of us, bringing a pet, a favorite toy or even person to school for show and tell was our earliest experience using a prop.  Why didn’t the teacher just have us tell a story?  Because teachers know that a verbal story alone is not enough to hold the attention of a room full of children. While your prospects are likely a bit older, show and tell is still one of the most powerful ways to gain an audience’s attention and improve recall. According to Toastmasters, listeners only retain 10% of what they’ve heard one week later.  This percentage increases to 67% when visual aids are added to the equation. I’ve seen a lot of presenters use props, some successful, and some…not so much.  Using a prop simply to grab attention at any cost is a cheap trick that often backfires in a presenter’s face.  Like anything in a Read More

50 Ways to Blow a Great Presentation


bad presenter

So many ways to blow a great presentation or demo…and so little time.  You likely work hard to get the opportunity to present to a prospect, so why risk blowing it on one (or more) highly preventable mistakes? Here’s my Top 50 ways to blow a great presentation.  Check off which ones you’re guilty of – if you dare! Spend a lot of time “chatting” with your prospect in the beginning so YOU can be comfortable. Talk about yourself or your company right away. Take your time getting to the value you bring your customer. Don’t confirm who will be in the audience ahead of time. If you find out anything’s changed before you start, forge ahead with what you planned, regardless of whether it’s still relevant. Don’t practice. You don’t want to be phony!! And if you didn’t have as much time to prepare as you’d like, be 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

The Oscars Best and Worst Presentation Awards


Delivering an Oscar-worthy performance is one-thing, but what about an Oscar-worthy presentation? Each year I hand out (not literally) awards for the Oscars Best and Worst  Presentations in a variety of categories, along with some helpful tips for us less famous presenters.  Here are my top awards from this year’s Academy Awards.  See if you agree. The Oscars’ Best and Worst Presentation Awards from the 2018 Oscars Best Acceptance Speech (TIE) Frances McDormand, Best Actress Jordan Peele, Best Original Script If there was any doubt Frances McDormand’s speech was going to be standard fare, that was quickly dispelled with “I’ve got a few things to say” opening.  McDormand was passionate and expressive in words, face, and body.  Even so, she was able to channel her big personality and excitement enough to deliver a powerful message of change – along with specific instructions! While Jordan Peele’s style was certainly more contained Read More

Reduce Presentation Nerves and Self-Doubt with these Actor’s Backstage Tips


You finally get that presentation or meeting set with your dream account. You arrive at their office pumped up and ready to knock your presentation out of the park!  But of course you have to wait…and wait….And with each passing minute you can feel that positive energy slip into anxiety and tension. Before you know it, your mind begins to wander, you’re second guessing your entire presentation, kicking yourself for not practicing more, or searching for distractions on your phone.  Presentation nerves claim another victim. Regardless of whether you’re sitting in a reception area or waiting for customers to join you for an online meeting, presentation nerves can rob you of positive energy and necessary focus.  When you finally do get to your presentation, you feel awkward and uncertain.  And depending on your default “Fight or Flight” response, you either race or slog through it detached from your audience and Read More

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