Yesterday, we laid out the benefits of making sales presentations to a large group of prospects. Today, we’ll discuss how to craft an effective sales presentation for this kind of audience.
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.” There is no quick or easy way to make yourself more comfortable speaking in front of crowds. In my experience, public speaking is no different than any other discipline: The only way to get better is to just keep doing it.
That said, there are simple strategies that can be employed to make public speaking less intimidating. This entrepreneur.com article presents seven excellent tips by successful TED Talk presenter Simon Sinek. Among his points of advice:
- Don’t begin talking right away; instead, pause for a breath when you first take the stage.
- Make eye contact with individual audience members.
- Speak unusually slowly. By consciously trying to talk at a rate that feels slower than normal, you will adjust for the subconscious tendency to speed your words up when you are nervous.
Brevity is the Soul of Wit—and Sales!
One of the biggest sins of a group presentation is speaking too long. This sin is doubled if your speech rambles on without coherency or a central theme. If your audience is bored by your presentation, a week later they won’t remember your pitch; they’ll only remember being bored.
I suggest making an outline of your presentation. As you make your outline, be conscientious of your core message. Review your outline, and don’t be afraid to trim away any points that don’t relate back to your central message. The “delete” key can be your best friend!
Hit Them “In the Feels”
On the subject of your core message, how do you decide exactly what that message is? One of the downsides of a group presentation is that it’s unlikely that you’ll create a message that absolutely everyone in the audience will identify with personally. However, the common denominator that will appeal to everyone is emotion.
Remember that even in business, most decisions are based primarily on emotions. Make the case to your prospects that your energy efficiency product will add comfort, add value to the bottom line, or remove known stressors (like chronic absenteeism or regulatory non-compliance). In short, your product will make life better in the areas they care about. If you must include technical or financial details in your presentation, be sure to make the connection to these key areas that motivate people at the gut level. By the way, stories are more impactful and memorable than facts and figures, and stories that evoke emotion are absolutely the most effective.
Make sure your audience understands what steps come next to pursue your proposed project. Give them something physical to take with them, remembering to keep things as brief as possible. A lengthy booklet full of technobabble is likely to become a paperweight on the prospect’s desk. On the other hand, a single-page proposal that highlights the rationale for change, the current status, the financial benefits of proceeding, and the next steps – all in 500 words or less -- will help that listener either decide to buy, or become an internal champion who will help the ultimate decision-maker come to that affirmative decision.
Finally, remember to thank the audience for their time and attention. Take a moment to make it clear that your appreciation on this point is sincere – after all, the time given is a valuable asset to you. Acknowledging your audience on a personal level will leave them with the impression that you are earnest and trustworthy as a professional. Gaining this trust should be a key goal of any sales presentation.