The human brain forgets over 80% of what it heard after a day. So began the Present Like a Pro workshop for media, publishing and advertising professionals at the IAB.
Given that many of us make presentations to prospects on a weekly basis, that statistic merits consideration as we develop our decks, often jam packed with information, and hone our story-telling skills.
Simply put, what 20% of your presentation will your prospects remember the next day? Was your presentation memorable? Did the audience retain the right information?
The workshop covered everything from how to open, to how to engage the audience, how to sell your stuff, and how to close.
Fortunately, I got to watch the workshop a second time, so I retained more than 20% of what the instructor, Anne Miller, had to say.
In no particular order, some tidbits from the 3+ hour workshop, which can be purchased as a video download from the IAB Online Professional Development Portal.
Your cover slide should state the objective, rather than the ever boring “
Ask questions as you’re going through the presentation. It not only keeps the audience engaged, it confirms for the presenter whether people agree / disagree, understand, or are even paying attention, so that the presenter can change course mid-presentation for whatever reason.
Pro athletes don’t run upfield or upcourt with their heads down. Neither should a presenter ramble through a presentation without constantly keeping an eye on the other players in the room and soliciting verbal and body language feedback.
Weave in good metaphors, anecdotes or stories. While you have to deliver all your key points and messages, people will only remember 10% – 20% of what you said the next day. What does stay in people’s minds is the great story you told, or the great analogy. An analogy or a story also helps people connect the dots. The dots in this case are the bullet points you are delivering and what they mean for the customers business.
Visuals reinforce points. The visuals can either be literal graphics on a PowerPoint, or a picture you paint in people’s minds of something that they can recall from past experiences.
Make it about them, not you. Don’t start by saying “In my presentation, I’m going to tell you why we’re awesome…”. Instead, start by making it inclusive, “In our conversation this morning, we’re going to talk about some issues and challenges you face in your business, and some opportunities to drive your business forward.” Make it about them, not about you.
if you are an information delivering kind of person when you give presentations, and inundate people with bullet point after bullet point of important information, you have to keep in mind that people’s brains are programmed to want things to add up to something. So after spewing off 20 points, sum it all up for your audience (the “why should you care what I’m talking about” part of the presentation).
And say, literally, “In summary, YOU’re facing a lot of challenges…” or “In summary, YOU want to reach a new market…”
And then have a summary page. The title of that page should again be about them, not your services. “Grow YOUR business with US.” And then repeat the benefits they will get or the features you want them to remember.
Good summary phrases…
“the key takeaway is…”
“the bottom line is…”
“Again”, or “what this means is…”, are good trigger words.
Then hit them with the next step. “So if this makes sense, the next step is…” The next step has to be something the other person is going to do by a deadline, such as, “Review the proposal, call me with any questions, and I’ll follow up with you on Tuesday.” You should know what your desired next step is before getting to the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to push the sales process along to get to that next point.
If you think you’re losing your audience, if they look bored or indifferent, you have to shake up the room, like a basketball coach calling a time out to settle the team down (I’m watching the Celtics blow a first half lead to the Lakers right now). “My sense is that what I am talking about is not what you’re interested in.” Take responsibility for losing their interest. There are 3 possible responses if you call a meeting “time out”:
1. You’re right, we’re not interested.
- Well, what are you interested in? I’m here for you.
2. No, we are interested (we just don’t look super excited…ever)
- OK, then let’s keep on going.
3. You’re right, half our staff was just laid off, so everyone’s mind is elsewhere.
- Well, do you want to continue, or would you rather reschedule when things settle down?
You shouldn’t be afraid to stop the conversation and ask for a reality check. After all, your goal is not to bore them and talk about something that isn’t of interest. Saying this out loud helps reset the tone of the room and the conversation.
The title of each slide should be the point you want them to remember from the slide, rather than something generic such as “Audience” or “Capabilities”.
When you’re presenting if you hit the “B” key on your keyboard PowerPoint will go to a blank screen. Hit any button to return to the current PowerPoint slide. This is a good way to continue an engaging discussion without losing people’s visual attention to the slide. Keep them focused on you and the conversation.
Overall, it is a great workshop that, while appropriate for anyone who makes presentations, is targeted at media, publishing and advertising professionals.
You can purchase the video from the workshop at the IAB Professional Development Web site. Well worth the $95.