Master Your Message Blog

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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 …

Using video in your presentation is easy. But you need to check your software manual or help files to find out what kinds of video you can use. You’ll find a list on my website for the various flavours of PowerPoint and Keynote.

But here’s what I want to talk about – etiquette. Because you can’t just throw up a twenty minute video and expect your job to be done and the audience to think you’re the greatest think since Cecil B. DeMille. There are unwritten rules to using video in your presentations.

This article and video will give you tips and techniques to ensure you use video as effectively as possible if you’re planning on using it in either PowerPoint or Keynote.

Keep your Read More …

We buy most items based on emotion, not logic.Don’t forget about emotion in your presentation. “What … in a business presentation?” you ask …

Ah … yup.

We make decisions based on our emotions all the time.
We justify them based on facts – on logic.

For example, the majority of people don’t buy a car based upon how economically it will get them from A to B. It’s usually something else … like the most new gizmos, the colour, the speed … or just the way it makes them feel. But when you ask them, they’ll typically tell you how practical it is …

You just have to look at advertising to see how important emotion is to the sale. Kids and animals sell. Sex sells. And status … keeping up with 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 …

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 …