How to make your next presentation more persuasive.

You may be able to convince someone that you have the best idea, product, or service, but can you persuade them to take action on your proposal?  Quotations are one type of persuasive tool that can help move people to take action. But is there really a difference between being convincing and being persuasive? According to Seth Godin, marketing
and business thought leader, Persuasion appeals to the emotions and to fear and to the imagination. Convincing requires a spreadsheet or some other rational device.”

I have found the best presentations have the right mix of convincing and persuasive elements. That mix depends on your topic and, of course, your audience. There are 4 tools you can use to enhance the persuasive aspect of your
presentations, these include quotations, examples, stories and images.

The right quotations can be powerfully persuasive tools because they allow you to inject more emotion into your presentation, and it is through emotion that we connect as human beings. As Helen Keller said “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

Quotations are also a powerful persuasive tool because they add external validation to your idea/proposal and enhance your credibility; you are adding confirmation from an external expert or leader. It may be better to find quotations from people your audience knows and respects, but this is not always necessary. For example, I didn’t know who Joseph Roux (above) was, but his quotation resonated with me.

You can present your quotations in different ways, ie some words on a slide or through the spoken word. I usually read the quote to the audience, this way I can add emotion in how I say the words. For a quotation to be memorable it is helpful to keep it as short as possible.

Good quotations can be found in many places – podcasts, white papers, books, and conversations but interestingly I find quotation websites less helpful.  This quotation by Seth Godin came from one of his TED presentations “We are living in a century of idea diffusion: people who can spread ideas…win.”

A great presentation moves your idea or project or sale forward. Use quotations strategically to be more persuasive.

They can help you win.

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring




On your mark, get set…

On your mark

Not many people know that London won the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games on the last day of voting at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Singapore in 2005. In fact, they were almost the Paris games. The story of how London won the games, basically with their final presentation, is beautifully told in Jon Steele’s book The Perfect Pitch (see my previous post , The Perfect Pitch and the You Factor). One of their keys to winning with that final presentation (their final pitch) was that they studied their audience and designed a presentation experience that would resonate specifically with them.

I always remember that story, and make every effort to know my audience.  I recently had the opportunity to give some presentation design workshops to a couple of groups at Philips headquarters in Amsterdam.  During my presentation I asked the groups “Has anyone presented to an audience, but really had no clue who they were?”  I could see smiles around the room, and just about all the hands went up, including mine.  It is an uncomfortable feeling of disconnect – beginning your presentation not being 100% sure that you have put together the right material for the group.  Such situations reduce your confidence, your credibility, and your ability to make an impact.  However, what if your audience is new to you and is thousands of kilometers away?

For my workshops in Amsterdam I only knew one person in each group, and that was by email or from the Philips internal social media network Connect Us.  In order to prepare I took advantage of online tools and used FluidSurveys  ( to design a survey.  I ask questions on various items related to presenting, and asked my contacts to share the survey link with their teams.  I am happy to say the response rate was excellent.  The survey results helped me to better tailor my material to my audiences, so I immediately felt connected and I think they did too.  Using some of the survey data in my presentation also made it more engaging.

So, if you are ever in a similar situation (and before the starting gun goes off), try using an online survey tool to help you know your audience better.

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring


Location, Location, Location

Great LocationThe more presentations I do, the more I realize that (like in real estate) location really matters.

The Lecture Hall

A couple of months ago I did two presentations in a large lecture hall at our regional headquarters in Singapore.  The room had semicircular multiple tiered seating, well designed acoustics and a central semicircular mini-stage that was about 8 inches high. It didn’t feel right for my style since I try not to lecture to my audience. In a room like this it is harder to connect with the audience; this type of room sends the message “sit and listen” rather than “engage with the presenter”.  I had to work harder to engage the audience and used techniques such as asking more questions than usual; ensuring I maintained eye contact, and getting physically closer to them (the mini stage was a challenge).

Interestingly, a few days earlier I had given the same presentation in a different environment…

The Hotel Meeting Room

The previous week in Kuala Lumpur I did the same presentation in a large hotel meeting room to an audience of a similar background.  I had requested round tables with 6 or 7 seats per table.  The room “felt” much better (except the air conditioning wasn’t working) and it certainly seemed that I connected with them quicker and more easily. I believe this was because I was physically closer to them and could comfortably move around the room, and amongst them.

Which brings me to my most recent experience…

The Theater Stage

I did a presentation a couple of weeks ago from a theater stage, complete with bright lights and a balcony.  The theater was on the ss Rotterdam Hotel, which is a boat hotel docked permanently in the city of Rotterdam.  Of all the rooms I have presented in over the last few months I found this one to be the most awkward. It was difficult to see the audience and to make eye contact because of the lights … were they nodding as I made my points or not? I have heard that Steve Jobs always rehearsed in the same room in which he was going to do his big product launches; I did visit the theatre and walk the stage before my presentation but maybe I should have done more work/preparation to get more comfortable with the setup.

My Conclusion

I think presenters often focus their preparation on the presentation itself. While that is important, so is knowing your venue. Control it if you can, but in many cases this is not practical or possible. Do what you can to make it a positive environment, one that enables the audience to connect with you. Always check out the venue ahead of time, and rehearse there if you can.  If we can control the location/room in which we present, or at least get comfortable with it, we will give a better presentations.

Do you have any stories of interesting presentation locations to share?

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring