Every single word matters.
Words are never neutral. Every word that does not help sell or market your product, hurts.
A media executive I know spent 45 exasperating minutes
trying to explain his product to me. Rarely did he pause to see if the idea made any sense (it didn't). I finally figured out that his entire concept could be described in two very simple
All of us have sat through at least one awful sales presentation, and most of us have also delivered one at some point, too. It is obvious to the audience that they are watching
a bad presentation, yet every day, presenters continue to deliver presentations that do not resonate with their customers and prospects.
The reason is simple. It is deceptively hard to
imagine yourself on the other side of the table.
As we exit 2008 and enter a prolonged period of economic challenges, it will become increasingly important to deliver a concise message
that connects with our audience. We are all going to have to become better presenters, and can start by avoiding the five biggest mistakes that presenters make:Stop reading:
We have all listened to a sales guy read word for word
through his entire presentation. How boring. Unless your audience is a nursery school class, they can read too. Your slides are
for the benefit of the audience, not speaking notes for you. They should support what you say, not repeat it.Kill ‘em with content:
For some reason, salespeople have
this instinctive belief that if a few words are good, more must be great. It is what you leave out, not in, that counts.Barney meetings:
The lovable purple
dinosaur is the symbol of all useless meetings. "I love you, you love me," but nothing ever happens. These are the meetings where we listen for an hour, nod in agreement, and then never see
each other again. Every meeting needs a purpose, and more importantly, it needs clear next steps. If you want your customer to do something, ask them for it.Product
Nobody cares about your product. Sorry, but they don't care about your technology either. I come from the software business, where it is common to have a 45-slide deck that is
43 slides of technological garbage. Customers do not buy technology or products, they buy benefits and solutions to their problems. Take the number of technology slides in your current pitch and cut
it in half. Then cut it in half again. Use those slides instead to tell them why they should care.It is YOUR fault:
You never want to be the one telling the
classic salesperson sob story where you are selling an "amazing" product, but the customer was just too "stupid" to get it. It is never the job of the customer to understand your
message. Every customer buys things for a reason. Your job is to understand those motivations, and present ideas that will help their business. It is always your fault if your message does
So what should you do? Here are four easy ways to make your presentations much better:10 slides or less.
Guy Kawasaki, the original Apple
evangelist, has a rule he calls 10/20/30. Which means you should have no more than 10 slides, no longer than a 20-minute presentation, and no font smaller than 30 points. You should work continually
to deliver fewer slides, less bullet points, and simpler language. When in doubt, take it out.
If there is any question as to whether a given slide will benefit the
audience, yank it. You can always verbalize something not in a presentation, but everything you leave in creates a more complicated story. In business, simplicity sells.Ask for the
The last slide on EVERY sales presentation should be clear, tangible next steps. You will never get what you do not ask for. So ask for the business, but make sure you can
articulate how everything benefits the customer.No surprises.
Suspenseful movies are great, but nobody likes presentations like this. Provide a clear overview on the first
slide. Tell them exactly what you are going to talk about and why it matters to them in the first 60 seconds. Demonstrate that you respect their time, and understand their needs.
be both the hardest and the most rewarding job in the world. It chews up and spits out those that do not take the time to understand and present from their customer's perspective. It is merciless
to those who waste their customer's time.
Next time you fire up PowerPoint, make every word count.