When it comes to meeting people and presenting in person, you are in a good position to ‘read the room’, to get a sense of how your information is or isn’t being accepted. You can see first-hand the nuances of body language, facial gestures and signs of disengagement of people looking at their mobile phones.
With most of your meetings now happening virtually, it becomes more challenging to put your finger on the pulse of your client or prospects response via the small screen. It can be further complicated when your audience of one or many has their camera turned off forcing you to rely only on verbal clues.
The good news is that you can still deliver an impactful presentation that convert. Before sitting down to craft your next presentation, consider these three things; the objective of the presentation, the decision to be made by the client or prospect and how much time you’ll for delivering the presentation.
Once you know those first few things, you can then sit down to reverse engineer the layout and content of the presentation.
The Objective of the Presentation
When you just read the above paragraph, you might have thought to yourself that the objective and decision to be made are one in the same and they are not.
Before we can even begin to write the content of the message, you need to know what the objective of the presentation is. Determine whether the message is intended to educate on a product or service; to inform the audience, such as a company announcement or to get their buy in. Lastly, is it to inspire or motivate the audience as many corporate leaders might be doing for their employees and stakeholders.
The Business Decision to be Made
In preparation of any presentation you might be giving, you need to understand one key thing—that the presentation is being made so that the person or team members listening can make a decision. Your role as the presenter is to give them the information they need to make a decision to say yes, say no, move forward with the next meeting, raise their hand to an idea or at the very least ask questions.
You are starting on the wrong foot with your presentation if you have not determined how much time you have to delivery your presentation. It is a huge mistake to have a presentation run longer than the audience is expecting and could effectively squash an opportunity as a result.
First and foremost, find out how much time you are given to speak. Then immediately knock off 10-15 minutes. This will ensure that you end early and allow time for any Q&A at the end.
So, if you are given an hour, plan for a about 45-50 minutes and then reverse engineer the presentation. This means you need to craft the presentation with this timing in mind. Perhaps you allow 5 minutes for the introduction and perhaps another 10 minutes for the conclusion and closing. That means I need to divide up the remaining 35 minutes for the body of the presentation.
The brain likes the number 3. That means your listeners will remember more of your presentation if you deliver the content as three topics. Those three topics along with their talking points would be spread across the 35 minutes for about 10 – 12 minutes for each topic being shared.
You can use this format for any amount of time given for your presentation.
So now that you know your objective, what desired decision the audience needs to make and how much time for delivery, we can now move onto building a persuasive presentation.
Building a Persuasion Presentation
When it comes to delivering your presentation, it is important that you have a structure to your talk—it allows you to establish a foundation for your talk.
There are two formats to consider:
A. Past, Present, Future
Start by having a discussion on where your audience (client, stakeholder, peers) was in the past.
Establish what is happening in the present (what are they achieving or not achieving).
Explain how you can improve their future, where you can take them.
B. Why you?, Why your company?, Why now?
Each time you give a presentation, there are three questions that you need to answer for the prospect or client, even if they don’t ask you directly.
You need to answer the question of why they should work with you as an individual.
You need to answer the question of why they should consider your company, product or service, especially if they currently have a current vendor or company that they are satisfied with.
You need to answer the question of why they should work with your company right now. This is where you demonstrate the opportunity cost.
The classic presentation structure has four main parts: An introduction, the body (the 3 main talking points), a conclusion and a close.
Building a persuasive presentation is never complete until you add a conclusion and end with a clear and confident close.
The conclusion provides a quick reference back to your attention-grabbing opening, pulls the loose ends together and brings your argument to an end. The presentation is only complete when you close, i.e., include a specific call to action.
So, there you have it. A process that will allow you to draft a presentation by first asking key questions, using your time strategically and then building the argument for your presentation.
Entrepreneurship consultant, keynote speaker and author, Pamela Wigglesworth has carved out a unique space in the market specializing in small business marketing and senior entrepreneurship. She is the author of The 50–60 Something Start-up Entrepreneur: How to Quickly Start and Run a Successful Small Business.