Master Your Message Blog

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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 …

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 …

What to do with handouts? Do I give them out before I speak, after … during?

Here’s the traditional handout. Three slides to a page – a place for notes on the right hand side.

The pros – an appropriate place to write notes – right next to the visual they relate to. People remember things they think about and write down. That’s good!

Cons – rustling papers, which can be distracting. People flip ahead. And after your presentation, maybe one percent ever look at them again. So you do all that work, kill a tree or two and it generally ends up in the round file.

More cons than pros.

If it’s just a simple print-out of your presentation screens, they’re usually hard to Read More …

Most construction workers will tell you it’s a pretty good idea to know your tools.

For example, if I was building a bookcase and asked for a saw when I really needed a hammer, it would be a rather unproductive day. If I was a surgeon and did something similar, you’d be dead.

I recently directed a conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I worked with a really good audio-visual company. But when we were doing the lighting for the stage, one of their technicians asked me to go and stand behind the podium. So I did. Silence. And then I peeked my head up from behind the stage and said, “Oh, did you mean the lectern?”

OK, so here’s the point: We stand on a Read More …

In the corporate environment, many times the background is the thing that gets designed long before the presentation has even a defined goal. Artists can spend hours getting just the right look and feel to make sure the company gets promoted in the very best light.

Let me ask you this: Why? In fact, I want you to ask that very question next time you’re developing a presentation. Why spend all that time on the background, corporate identity and logo? That presentation isn’t even about those things.

What can happen is that the background and logo become so imposing that they actually detract from the point you’re trying to make. I’ve seen lots of examples, particularly in sales conventions. The background was so “busy” and took Read More …

The closing is second most important part of your persuasive presentation. I say that because if you don’t have a great opening, you will have lost them by the closing and so your closing won’t matter.

It would probably be helpful here to review the opening of your persuasive presentation:

  • Start with the situation, opportunity, or problem.
  • Then describe your credentials – what makes you the ideal one to provide the solution.
  • After that, your proposed solution.
  • Finally, state the agenda. In other words, tell your audience what you intend to present in support of your solution.

For the closing, the structure is almost a mirror image of the opening.

First step is to restate the SITUATION, opportunity or problem – the reason you Read More …

Here’s a video that I created for a client a few months ago that serves to illustrate a persuasive structure for any type of presentation, email, letter, phone call, etc. It’s only two minutes long (that was actually a requirement).

The presentation was a key element of a larger package that secured a $400K grant. Tecterra was the funding organization (the “client” in this case). There were four grants available and over 70 contenders.

Hopefully, you can pick out the key elements in the structure. They can be subtle, because you want the presentation to flow.

First, start with what your audience knows. Usually it centres around the problem. That’s usually the one thing we can all relate to—the thing that’s making us Read More …

Movies are totally involving. The best ones make a point. And they’re about people. And we remember the really good ones for a long, long time. That’s the power of stories.

They’re the most compelling part of any presentation.

Doug Stevenson's book on how to tell stories in business presentationsI saw master storytelling coach, Doug Stevenson speak last year. Doug coaches business people in the art of storytelling. And if you’re serious about being a compelling speaker, you absolutely have to get his book, Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method. You’ll find Doug at “The Storytelling Studio for Business.”

Doug is coming to Calgary! If you’re in the Calgary or Edmonton area, this is a NOT TO BE MISSED one day workshop on storytelling for business – on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Get more Read More …