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Presentation Skills - Organization is Key Part IV

Jul 30, 2008
In Part III we discussed the four different types of evidence you can use: Personal, Statistics, Example, and Analogy. Each has its good points, and the type of evidence you choose will depend on both your topic and your audience. Whatever evidence you choose, make sure that you're not just delivering the facts, but rather how those facts can benefit the audience.

Benefits to the Audience

So, make sure that your audience is aware of how your point has direct meaning to them. For example, "What this means to you is greater earnings in the future"... "more opportunities for growth within the organization"... "job security". Whatever that positive connection to the audience is, make it very clear.

Too many less-than-seasoned salespeople do a great job of pointing out their company's product's features and advantages, but neglect the only part of interest to the customer, which is the benefit they will derive from using a product with all these great features and advantages.

For those of you unfamiliar with FAB: The Feature is what the product IS. The Advantage is what the product DOES. The Benefit is what the product does FOR YOU, the consumer.

Classic example: Windshield wipers

Feature: A device that swings back & forth across your windshield
Advantage: Clears the windshield of water
Benefit: Allows the driver to operate the vehicle in any weather

In other words, you can see where you're going in the rain.

Too often in presentations do we see large percentages of screen and time devoted to promoting features and advantages. Less frequently do we see space devoted to what exactly all the cool stuff can do to make the client's life easier, or more secure, or more profitable. Don't waste your audience's time telling them what you do. Tell them what you can do for them.

We've all heard about everyone's favorite radio station being WIIFM, "What's In It For Me?" Keep it tuned to the station your audience is listening to and your ratings will go through the roof.

Call to Action / Next Steps

You've gotten them motivated. You've excited them. You've done it all with great style and panache. What do you want them to do? Don't forget to finish your job by asking them to do some things for you, and being as specific as possible.

Don't end your presentation like this: "Thanks for your support"..."I appreciate your time, let's stay in touch"..."Please do what you can".

Instead, use phrasing such as:

"I need everyone to write their congressman"

And have that address in a handout or up on the screen. Or:

"At the end of the month we'll be meeting again, so please e-mail your suggestions. I need at least two paragraphs from everyone, on my desk by the 15th."

Or perhaps you need to mention what criteria must be met, who specifically will be responsible for what, and how this all will be measured. Either way, make sure that your message is on the top of the in-basket and not at the bottom of the circular file. Be precise and ask for specifics.

End with a Bang

Your last words should leave your audience inspired or with something to think about. If you've done everything right, your audience will have stayed with you every step of the way. But even if you've lost a few of them in the middle, your audience will especially remember the beginning and the end.

Think of an Olympic gymnast, who spins her lithe little body around the parallel bars and into seemingly impossible airborne positions: what does she always have to do to get the points? That's right, stick the landing.
Stick the landing with your next presentation by summing up with a reference that alludes to, or makes whole, your unforgettable grabber. Give your audience something to talk about after they leave your talk.

Review

Don't make your next presentation just a stream-of-consciousness data dump. Instead, organize it around a formula that grabs their attention in the beginning, direct their attention through the middle, and wraps it all up into a neat bundle at the end.

You've got 30 seconds to let them know that this presentation is not going to be like ones they've suffered through before. Let them know exactly where you're going from the beginning so they can put everything you say into a pre-formed context. Give them evidence that they can relate to and hopefully has direct benefit to them.

Close with a call to action that, no matter how small, gives them a reason to keep thinking about your presentation after they leave the room.
About the Author
J. Douglas Jefferys is a principal at PublicSpeakingSkills.com, an international consulting firm specializing in training businesses of all sizes to communicate for maximum efficiency. The firm spreads its unique knowledge through on-site classes, public seminars, and high-impact videos, and can be reached through the Internet or at 888-663-7711.
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