Master Your Message Blog


This is right up there with the most important things I’ll ever tell you about persuasive presentations:

To be a successful persuasive presenter, you absolutely have to believe in your message. And you have to display passion.

Being persuasive requires understanding the audience

Mehrabian’s chart

You may have seen this pie chart before. It’s usually misinterpreted.

It comes from the work of Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D. He was measuring what happens when someone you know gives you mixed messages.

That’s like me telling you that “The weather’s not very good but I know you’re going to have great vacation” and saying it with a slight look of doubt on my face. You won’t hear anything about “great vacation.” My look of doubt reinforces the fact that the weather isn’t very good and, Read More …

Features and benefits – two key elements of any sales course. After all, understanding them and the differences between them is part of the foundation of making a sale.

If you want to be persuasive, benefits have to be at the core of your presentation – the tastier the better. Let me explain:

If you’re like me, you learned earlier on that …

features are what a product has; benefits are what it does.

But sometimes, what you think are benefits aren’t. They’re often not personal enough. They’re not compelling.
To REALLY sell, your benefits have to be specific. They have to give your audience a specific gain . . . one they can personally feel, or imagine.

Benefits have to personally and emotionally affect Read More …

OK, you’re getting ready give a presentation to a corporate audience  . . . with speaker support. And you’re nervous – the last thing you need to be doing is futzing around trying to find the show button on the bottom of the screen. Click on the wrong one and it can really throw you for a loop. Nothing worse than appearing disorganized … on stage … in front of your peers. Been there, done that!

There is nothing worse than appearing disorganized at the very start of a presentation  …
on stage … in front of your peers!

a presentation in Presenter View in PowerPoint

Presenter View (PowerPoint)

Here’s a little known trick to avoid the problem altogether. If you’re using PowerPoint, save your presentation file as a “show” file. When Read More …

If you want to be effective in the use of media in your presentations, it’s important to understand how it relates to learning. So today, I’m going to give you some basic rules for being more effective.

Richard Mayer, guru of learning with multimedia in presentations

Prof. Richard Mayer

These rules come from the work of educational psychologist, Richard Mayer, in his book, “Multimedia Learning.”

Rule Number One:

We learn better with words and pictures than with words alone. Using hearing and vision to transfer information results in much better recall that lasts much longer … often years longer.

 Number Two:

We learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented at the same time or next to each other on the same screen.

And three … we are attracted by movement. Read More …

The primary objective of presentations is NOT to be pretty. The primary objective is to persuade or impart information.

Pretty but busy slideI mean, they CAN be pretty, but if pretty (or busy) gets in the way of the message, it’s a problem!

Sometimes what you think is a brilliant idea, just doesn’t make it in the implementation stage. Remember, screen real estate is dear. There’s never enough of it.

Well, in fact, the information you put on the screen should not need any more space than what’s available. And that brings us to the first of two major rules:

  1. Less is More.  Each screen should support one point and only one point. Don’t try and put everything you can think of up there. Who’s going to remember Read More …

In public speaking, your voice is your instrument. You have to know what it sounds like. So I recommend you get a recorder and record yourself giving a presentation.

Then listen to it. Do you sound monotone? That’s boring. Our brains don’t pay attention to boring things. They shut off.

Speaker reading a storybook to a childHere’s an exercise. Get a children’s book and read it to a child – and record it. You’ll hear yourself exaggerating the words – you’ll be much more expressive than normal. Now back off about twenty percent and you’re in presentation territory.

Most new speakers speak too quickly? Slow down. The larger the audience, the slower you need to speak. And pauses … they can be your most powerful tool. Pauses give impact to what Read More …

I’ve been a director for countless corporate conventions filled with speaker after speaker. Some of them are real pros and some of them  … are not. And you can tell just by the way they treat the crew. There are conventions … at conventions – things you should do as a presenter … before you go on.

One convention is to give the director or technician a script of your talk, complete with a list of visuals on the left hand side. If you’re really classy, you’ll provide a print-out of the visuals themselves, but a script with a word description on the left works just as well.

Why would you do this? – provide a script, that is?

Several reasons.

  1. Stuff happens. I’ve seen Read More …

Here’s the rule for all of you that are hooked on text slides. It’s the rule of 66. It means six lines of text MAX, six words per line MAX. And a title, of course.

Slide with way too much text

Don’t do this!

Any more and you have a cluttered slide – like the one on the left. This is an actual slide from a recent convention. It wasn’t even up long enough to be able to read it all! Do you think your audience will remember all this plus the rest of your presentation. (I guess that doesn’t need an answer …)

And don’t tell me you can’t get a point down to under 6 words. I have yet to come across a situation in which that was true. Read More …

Point form seems to be highly misunderstood. I often see screens of text using full sentences.

If you’re going to use full sentences, you’re better off going home. That’s because you’ll read them and THAT is the thing audiences hate the most! The number one thing! I’ve done it  … so I know!

And why would you need to be there anyway? – your audience can just read your presentation.

Even more important – if they’re reading, they’re not listening to you!

So … you need to get your points down to their absolute essence. Use the fewest number of words you can use to support or reinforce your point.

Let’s get rid of as many articles, prepositions, pronouns … the little words …

Read More …

There isn’t anything that connects you with your audience more than your eyes. We call that eye contact.

Now, I don’t mean cursory, flit around the room eye contact – I’m talking hard core at least two sentences long eye contact. That’s what works.

Beginning speakers know they have to have good eye contact and so they make sure they scan the room and try and spend a couple of seconds on each person. That’s the ADD method.

People know when you’re talking AT them rather than TO them. If you’ve sat in the audience when a speaker scans the group and never really connects with one person, you know you don’t tend to get really involved in the message.

But when a speaker spends Read More …