A presentation needs structure. A structured presentation is easier for an audience to follow. Many presentations are “thrown together” the night before. These can be difficult for audiences to follow. And when you are trying to persuade people you want to make it as easy as possible for them to follow your thinking. But even before you work on your presentation, you need to ask yourself one key question. Who is my audience?
Presentations are more impactful if designed for a specific audience. A presentation designed for the unique challenges of a department is more impactful than a ‘one size fits all’ presentation. The more you know about your audience the more you can customize to their specific needs. Not only from a product and services perspective, but from a communications perspective as well.
The main components of a presentation include: the opening, the message, the content and the closing. When you start your presentation design process it’s best to begin with the message.
he next question to ask is what is my message? Studies have shown it is difficult for people to remember more than a few things from a presentation. So it is critical for the presenter to make sure that the audience remembers the one most important thing. That one thing is the main message of the presentation. The main message is the foundation for the presentation. You structure the presentation to support the main message.
There are several ways to figure out the message of a presentation. I prefer to use a simple fill in the blank sentence – What I really want you to understand is _________________________________________.
There are a couple of things to remember when filling in the blank. You will say your message to your audience, so use words that you would use in a normal conversation. Also when you complete the sentence use the words you and/or your. This will help you focus your message on your audience rather than your product or service. Presentations are all about your audience. You can start to bring all your presentation components together when you have a clear message for your intended audience.
The opening of a presentation needs to be designed to bring the audience into your world. It’s like opening the door, reaching out, and bringing them in. The opening has to answer, “Is this going to interest me?” One of the keys to a strong opening is to just start; forego the traditional preamble (or get someone to introduce you).
An opening can be paired with a closing in what is referred to as bookending. One way to do this is to start with a story but don’t finish it until the end of the presentation. Once you have opened your presentation the next thing to do is to state your message and go on to delivering your content.
There are many ways to open a presentation. Some of the most popular techniques include: stories, provocative questions, intriguing quotations and interesting facts.
In a sales presentation the content should include more than “features and benefits”. The content must support your message, and contain the proof points for your message. Most presenters have the problem of having a lot of content and not enough time to present it. You solve this problem by only using content that supports your message.
Sorting the content into broad categories or chunks helps your audience digest the material. Three or four chunks of content is sufficient to support the message. Audiences will find it difficult to remember more than three or four different categories. In the Win Your Presentation workshops I use four chunks of content: structural, visual, emotional and theatrical.
In a sales presentation you should include some non-product or extrinsic differentiators along with the usual sales material. These are differences between you and your competitor that lay outside of the product per se.
These can include things like service and support. Other examples include:heritage, history, being first, having the latest, preference, and leadership. Legendary business consultant Jack Trout says, leadership is the most powerful way to differentiate your brand. A sales presentation needs to highlight all your differentiators.
Think about how major brands like Starbucks differentiate themselves, it isn’t only their products.