3 Keys to Building a Persuasive Sales Presentation

Ted took to the front of the room at a recent presentation workshop. It was his turn to deliver his persuasive sales presentation. Standing at one end of the long oval table and making eye contact with his five sales colleagues he began to lay out the reasons why an imaginary prospect (us) should purchase his system.

“Finally” he said as neared the end of his talk “if you implement our system we will improve your process and as a result reduce your cost.”

“OK” I said “but prove it.”

“What do you mean?” Ted asked.

“You’ve made an assertion” I said “that you will improve my process and reduce my cost but an assertion will not persuade anyone. You need to prove it”

And this “prove it” approach, I believe, is at the heart of the persuasive sales presentation. Time and again I have seen sale representatives deliver a laundry list of assertions to their prospects. “You should buy our product because it has high quality ratings, a competitive price, we have a quick turn on delivery, great follow-up service” and on and on and on.

But the prospect will likely not find that kind of presentation the least bit persuasive because none of the assertions are supported by any evidence.

Let’s look at three methods we can use within our sales presentation to prove our assertions and persuade our prospects. These methods include the statistic, the story and the quote.

Statistics. Research shows (Armstrong 2008, Rossiter &Percy 1980, Kelly & Hoel 1991) that statistics and charts are excellent persuasive tools for a presentation. However, presenting statistics can be tricky. Prospects will often find data meaningless if it’s not put into context for them. Whenever using statistics to persuade your prospect I suggest explaining exactly why the data is relevant to them. So if we use Ted as an example he might begin to persuade his prospect that he can improve their process and reduce their cost, by saying something like this: “For every $1.00 you spend buying printed marketing materials you spend $6.00 managing that material.” You should provide the research source for your data on your power point slide and now put that data in context for them – “what this means Mr. Prospect is that the true cost of your printed marketing materials isn’t in the cost of your brochures and sell sheets but in the managing of the inventory, the processing of requisitions and the distribution to end users”

Now you’ve delivered data that the prospect will find compelling because if they are purchasing printed marketing materials you have shown them exactly how this data relates to them. That kind of data will get the attention of the prospect and so we have begun the process of persuading them that improving their process can, in fact, reduce their cost. The next step in the persuasion process would be to tell this prospect a story.

Stories, or if you prefer case studies or examples are, to the surprise of most, more persuasive than statistics (Pennington & Hastie 1991, Lee & Leets 2002, Green & Brock 2000). I realize that’s not logical but human nature being what it is people love stories. We love to tell them, we love to listen to them and as a result we find stories both interesting and persuasive.

But that same research also shows that the most persuasive presentations combine both stories and statistics. So Ted’s story could come right after delivering his statistic on cost savings and could look something like this: “At this time last year ABC company was in the same situation as you, they utilized a highly manual process that included physical inventory counts, product requests that came in via email or phone call and distribution that was handled by Marketing personnel who spent eight hours a week focused on managing print. Today ABC has transitioned to our automated system, now we manage their inventory and distribution, orders are placed within the system and reports are available in real-time 24/7. Today, the Marketing personnel spend just two hours a week focused on print.”

Now we’ve given our prospect a compelling statistic and a story (real life example) that supports that statistic. We’ve painted a picture for them of two worlds, the inefficient manual world that ABC company used to live in (and that the prospect currently lives in) and the efficient automated world that ABC company lives in today (and that awaits the prospect if they transition to Ted’s system). If you’ve done your homework and can accurately describe to the customer the pain points within their current situation you’ll notice their heads nodding in agreement as you verbally detail their current struggles. One more step and our persuasive case is complete.

A quote from an industry expert, a credible research company or a customer can have a tremendous impact on your prospect. When you quote an expert who supports the case you’re making it is as if you pull that person into the conversation to help you persuade the prospect. So once again, returning to our example, after giving the prospect the compelling statistic and then delivering the descriptive story Ted could show the prospect a power point slide that has ABC company’s logo and a quote from ABC’s CFO that reads “The savings in both time and money have far exceeded our expectations!”

Now, after Ted makes his initial assertion, that his system will improve process and reduce cost, he can prove it to the prospect. By combining a statistic with a story and a quote Ted builds a persuasive case that proves to the prospect that he can, and in fact has, delivered on the promise to improve process and reduce cost.

When designing your next sales presentation be sure to avoid simply making assertions. Instead, use the statistic, the story and the quote to build a persuasive case and prove it to your prospect.

How to Stop Presentation Nerves

Up until the age of fifteen I was a very shy person. On a day to day basis, no problem, but any time I had to speak to more than a handful of people I literally went to pieces. I used to go several shades of red, which in turn made me much hotter. So that made me more conscious of being nervous, and that made my mouth dry, my brain scramble, and that would make me more red… And so on! You may recognise some of those symptoms in others, or yourself when speaking. Certainly I see many speakers who though charming and knowledgeable people normally, absolutely become quivering wrecks as they begin to talk to a small crowd.

The reality is it needn’t be like that, and there are things you can do to help. Some are specific steps to be taken, whilst others are merely thoughts you need to keep in your head. A combination of these will help you to control your nerves and get things under control. I hope it helps you to know that I no longer get nervous when I speak, and in fact haven’t got nervous speaking in years now. Here are some of the steps I took, and attitudes I have adopted to help me.

The first is something that people interested in Neuro-Linguistic Programming will recognise as a “re-frame”. You see, if we take our understanding of the “fear” a speaking event generates and look at it in a slightly different way, it becomes evident that nerves are physiologically identical to excitement.. That is to say in both cases the “symptoms” are the same; quickened breathing, faster metabolism, temperature fluctuation and so on. You might wonder how that helps, but I can tell you that you feel a whole lot better thinking how excited you are about speaking, rather than nervous. What’s more, the self talk we all do is more helpful too, because when we recognise being excited it feels easier to calm down, whereas as being nervous feels difficult to change.

I mentioned at the start of this article that I haven’t been nervous as a speaker in years… I will admit to being terribly excited on many occasions!

The second knack is to focus on what is overlooked by many people, and that is the generally low standard of many speakers. You see, whilst it’s better to aim to be amazing, you don’t actually need to be that outstanding… Being a little better than average is probably going to do the trick. I reiterate I am not advocating a mediocre speech. I am merely pointing out that because the general standard is so low, you need only focus on being good enough. As you do this, and keep doing this your confidence increases anyway and that naturally helps with presentation nerves.

Which conveniently brings me to the next point. Fact is, many things you do only occasionally will leave you a little nervous… If they are new you are never sure about what to do. Speaking is the same, and the more of it you do the easier you realise it is. You can literally “fake it till you make it” with confidence. By speaking often, and telling yourself you are excited and looking forward to speaking… Guess what? Your brain begins to believe you… In turn helping you to be more confident, and so giving a better performance and so on. I know that sounds almost too good to be true-I also know it works because it was one of the techniques I used to grow in confidence as a speaker. And believe me, I literally used to shake, visibly, my whole body…

Which brings me to how do you cope with getting the shakes. Once it starts it’s difficult to get rid of. Well, you have to acknowledge it may happen, and if it does, that’s ok. Many people get nerves, and many people get a little shaky on stage. Unfortunately many of those same people make it worse by drawing attention to how nervous they are. The best strategy is to focus on what I have mentioned here, and on no account mention your nerves.

And when it comes to not mentioning your nerves, never ever mention being nervous at the start of your speech. You have almost certainly heard people say how nervous they are as they start to speak, or asking the audience to “bear with them” and so on. People do these things for a number of reasons, but unfortunately it boils down to a bad idea-highlighting the one thing you don’t want people to know. And it gets worse, because once people know you are nervous they start noticing every little thing. And when they notice, guess what? Yes… You get more nervous…! Don’t mention being nervous.

You are going to need to have a glass of water nearby, or a bottle if that suits the event better. Don’t rely on it being provided for you, and don’t worry if no one else had water. You want to overcome presentation nerves, so trust me here and take some water with you. You may never even take a single sip, but if you don’t have the water you get that strange dry mouth thing, that ends up with loud clicking noises when you try to speak. And if your speech is amplified with a microphone, then everyone gets to hear it too. Take water and when you need it, it’s there. Water also gives you the perfect excuse to just pause now and again and calm yourself (excited, remember?)

Prepare your beginning really well. This is one part of the speech that many people neglect, which is a shame because it’s at the start that people are really likely to retain key ideas and impressions of your speech. Make sure you know what you are saying and why. If humour works for you, great, make use of it. If you like order and calm, explain something. If you need to explain why you are there, that’s good too. Just make sure your opening minute is really strong. A strong opening allows you to stroll out with a certain confidence that someone shuffling papers, wishing they had water and apologising for being so nervous will never have.

Many people believe they can help their nerves by speaking in front of a mirror. This is alright, but not great, because a mirror is not what your audience sees or hears. If you want to do this (and this is quite a hardcore technique, but it works) you need to film yourself. Set your camera up to film what the audience sees. This means don’t speak to the camera directly, rather set it back so it captures you talking to a room. Film yourself. Now watch it back. I suggest you watch it back alone, unless you love hiding behind your fingers in shame! Now when you watch this, get over your accent, your taste in clothes, your body shape, that haircut, your inelegant posturing and so on. Honestly, everyone is the same when they see themselves. Instead focus on what you like about what you are doing. You will see moments that work, and you will hear snippets that sound great. Keep these and work on the rest. The more you do this process, the more you will begin to separate yourself from your performance, and at this point getting rid of your presentation nerves will seem easier and easier.

The final tip I have for you is to affect a certain swagger. Your favourite sportsperson has it. And rock start. Movie stars too. So even if you are feeling “excited”, and your heart is racing, and you make a few mistakes… So what? Seriously. Live presentations mean an element of performance. A level of energy is great and so much more engaging that someone stood there boring everyone silly by monotonously reading from their slides. And even if you are nervous, and even if some people in the audience don’t like it you have to keep in your mind that you are the one speaking, giving the presentation. At least you had the nerves to go for it and deliver your speech. And that REALLY helps with confidence I can tell you!

How to Give An Excellent Presentation – 3 Important Tips to Improve Your Presentation In College

If you want to learn how to give a good presentation, then you have to pay close attention to this article because I’m going to share with you three of the most important tips that very few people know.

In this article, first, I’m going to talk about how to prepare presentation slides effectively. Second, I will talk about nonverbal communication skills that you can use to direct audience’s attention. Third, I will talk about the ideal timing for your presentation.

First of all, let’s talk about how to organize your slides properly. Good slides will allow your audience to remain focus. So, it is the key to carry out good presentation. The flow of the slides should always start from the introduction, then the presentation outline, the content, and the conclusion. In the introduction phase, you should mention about who you are and what is the theme of your presentation. Try to keep it short and direct. In the presentation outline, you should write out the flow of your presentation to let your audience know what are you going to talk about. In the content area, you should focus on the important parts of your slides. In the conclusion phase, summarize your content in one short paragraph and end the presentation by saying thank you to the audience. Remember to use pictures occasionally. It will help you to attract audience’s attention.

Second, you should focus on nonverbal communication skills. The way you stand, your expression, your hand gestures can affect your overall presentation. Always stand in front of everyone and make sure your audience can see you and your slides. Occasionally, walk towards your audience when you want to emphasize on some key points. This will help you to gain immediate attention. Besides that, do not cross your arms or over using your hand gestures.

Third, you should plan the timing of you presentation. Ideally, you should spend 5% of your time on the introduction, another 5% of your time on the presentation outline, 80% of your time on the content, and 10% of your time on the conclusion. Remember, introduction and presentation outline is only meant to tell your readers about the title and the flow of your presentation. So, please do not spend too much time on it because it does not add value to your audience.

In conclusion, to give good presentation in college, you should always prepare your slides properly, use nonverbal skills effectively, and adjust the timing of presentation correctly. If you follow the tips above, you should be able to deliver good presentation in the future.