Master Your Message Blog


Attentive audience membersDo you want to win more business – have more successful persuasive presentations?

The secret: Know your audience.

It’s amazing how many presenters don’t properly research their audience.

I often use the phrase “get under their skin.” In fact, it’s the title of one of the modules of my online presentations course, “Persuasive Presentations 2.0.” It’s so important, I dedicate one of eight modules to it alone.

Here’s why: If you understand your audience’s pain and can alleviate it, your chances of success go through the roof. By “pain,” I mean what’s really bothering them. What is their major concern in the area you’re addressing? Get “under their skin”— really understand them and their challenges. That allows you to deliver your solution more Read More …

Ever get really, really lost? You’re in the driver’s seat and your navigator hasn’t bothered to keep you up to speed on where you are? It’s the single biggest fault with presentations.

Presenters know where they’re going – they just don’t share the map with the audience.As presenters, we need to keep our audience on track. Tell them what we’re going to tell them up front … and then keep them up to date as we move through the presentation. Otherwise, they get lost.

“Sharing the Map” keeps your audience on track throughout your presentation.

So here are three visuals things you can do to help keep your audience on track.

One. If you have more than say three points, have an agenda slide. Read More …

older-man-using-strategy-playing-chessLately, I’ve been finding more eyes glazing over than usual when ask about presentation strategy. The question I ask is the title of this article.

Or there’s a tone of bewilderment, accompanied by the question, “Why do I even need one?”

In truth, maybe you don’t. If you’re delivering a presentation that’s main purpose is to impart information and has no other goal, you probably don’t. But with a persuasive presentation, your strategy is key.

Your strategy is the most important contributor to your success.

Persuasive presentations are sales presentations. They’re corporate presentations designed to change behaviors, or attitudes. They’re any presentation with an objective of getting someone to do, think, or believe something after the presentation is over.

The most important element in determining success (other than structure, content, and delivery), is strategy. Now, you might be thinking, “Well then, strategy is a very small part of ‘the mix’ then.” No, not at all. Read More …

This past week, I attended a “pitch” competition called “The Doghouse” at the Global Petroleum Show, in Calgary. It was for start-up companies to try their pitches in front of potential investors.

Five different companies on two consecutive days pitched their product or service to five potential investors. They were each evaluated and one winner was picked from each group. But here’s the kicker—each presentation could only be three minutes in length. They really had to have their acts together!

It was gratifying for me to see that the ones that followed the “tried and true” persuasive presentation structure won. They had done their homework and had specifically targeted their presentations to that particular investor audience. The others—not so much.

As I’ve helped take a number of well-known Canadian companies public (some of them are listed here), I sat in the audience, taking notes. I sent a short evaluation to each of the presenters afterwards by email to let them know what I thought they had done well and what they might do to improve their message. Read More …

presentation-small-webThere are a number of reasons presenters get frustrated with their results. The most common is not getting the response they want. They spend hours putting together all the pertinent information, support it all with gorgeous visuals, work on their performance, and get what seems to be an energetic, positive response from the audience.

But … “no cigar,”as they say. They don’t win the project, make the sale, or get the action they want at the end of their talk.

It could be the structure of without a doubt, the most important part of the presentation—the closing (or “asking for the order”). If you don’t get this right, it really doesn’t matter how the other 98% of your presentation went!

So, let’s take a look Read More …

Questions Anyone?Boy, have I learned about this the hard way!

You decide to allow questions all during your presentation. You have a very engaged, inquisitive audience, but you never get to make your main point. You get so sidelined with concerns and side issues that you just plain run out of time. Score one for the audience!

I can remember a breakout session I conducted at a Toronto conference where this is exactly what happened. It was on video blogging: How to come across with passion and credibility on camera. The presentation relatively quickly degenerated into a discussion and I never did get back on track. 

Discussions are NOT presentations!

While I got great evaluations for a spirited and interesting session, I never got to make Read More …


Yikes! And way too common.

This is for the intelligent ones. No, really!

I’m deadly serious. This is the majority of presenters who get to stand in front of an audience because of what they know. They’re most often brilliant, but they’re so close to their passion that they forget that what’s so obvious to them isn’t to their audience.

As a professional speaker and trainer, one of the biggest lessons for me has been to learn to limit the amount of information I try to communicate in any one session. Too much information creates overload and once audiences get filled up, they shut down. At that point, you’ve lost them. Bye-bye.

This is where what you put on a slide is critical. Too Read More …

Close-up shot of roaring lionBusinesspeople are mounting more and more presentations every year. Surveys tell us this.

They also tell us that audiences know … with utmost certainty … that 90% of what they’re going to be subjected to is downright boring … served on a thick foundation of PowerPoint crap—in other words, designed to suck any remaining energy out of an otherwise pleasant, uplifting day.

Here’s a fact: The number one thing audiences hate is for presenters to stand in front of them and read their text-packed, full sentence slides.

So don’t do it. Roar like a lion!

If it’s a report, email it to your audience and save you and them a whole lot of pain.

 I’ll never forget a morning a few years back in Read More …

MH1633I delivered a workshop on the weekend that was about crafting a persuasive message for video—more specifically, a short, sales-related, direct appeal on camera. The participants were working through the first two steps in the process and having a challenging time.


Because we’re not often fixated on our audience and their pain. But, for video, you have to be. In fact, for any persuasive presentation, you have to be. But video … it’s critical.

That’s because you have to talk through the camera to that person. And, if you don’t have a really good image in your mind of who that person is, you won’t be personal enough; you won’t connect with your eyes; you won’t be passionate; you won’t be persuasive.

You have Read More …

Initiator – A Gift for the Gab 

SELF initiator personality style

Your message should be tweaked based on who your audience is. If you’re delivering a presentation to a marketing group, it’s got to be positioned differently than if you’re delivering to a room of engineers. And your style of delivery should change—for maximum impact.

How? It depends on your audience’s personality style. 

An audience of initiators are the most fun audience you’ll ever have. They’re outgoing, have great imaginations, and are always up for a good time. They’re the life of the party.

Then again, if you’re a member of the opposite personality style group, you might not think so. You might think of them as loud or pushy, a bit arrogant, maybe, and somewhat superficial – Read More …