March 16

5 Ways to Bring your Presentation into the 21st Century


When my dad was in sales, he didn’t have to compete with a steady stream of “urgent”texts or emails for his prospect’s attention.  He was rarely rushed along when he presented, asked to stick to the “script” or sandwiched in between competitors.  My father had the luxury of building rapport and transitioning into his presentation organically.  I don’t have to tell you that times have changed and so have buyers.  So why are so many sellers still using the same old sales presentation techniques from the seventies, eighties and nineties?

If you want to connect with today’s busy prospects, stand out from your competition and be remembered when buying decisions are made, you need to start carrying some tools from the present in your “present”ation kit.

In today’s fast-paced world, you may have your prospect’s eyes and ears at the start of your sales presentation, but don’t be fooled:  you have yet to win his mind.  Like an actor at curtain’s rise, you must quickly gain your audience’s attention and give them a compelling reason to come along with you on your journey.  This requires a whole different approach to your presentation–and your opening in particular–unless you’re willing to risk losing your audience.  And as any good actor knows, once lost, it’s nearly impossible to win them back.

 5 ways to bring your presentation into the 21st century:

1.  Ditch the company overview

Remember getting cornered by “that guy” at a networking event who went on and on about himself immediately after being introduced?  Bad news:  You may be “that guy” if you’re still opening with a corporate overview.  Your prospect likely already knows–or has access to–much of what you think you need to tell them.  Sure, there are key points you want to highlight for your audience, and there’s a place for that, but it is not in the first few minutes of your presentation.  Sprinkle in relevant facts or accomplishments throughout your presentation.  Place your overview at the end or have it available as a leave behind.  Trust me, it won’t be missed.

Get tips on ditching the company overview here.

2. Start in the middle.

Think about how we communicate today: Texts are 160 characters, Twitter, 140.  Even commercials have been reduced from 30 seconds to 10.  Are you taking this into account in your presentation?  Today’s buyers are short on time and attention.  They want you to get to the point…fast.  Yet, like the rest of us, they will sit through a two hour movie.  Why?  Sure, it’s entertainment, but think about where movies begin.  Do they start with a lot of backstory about how the characters met or where they grew up?  No!  They start with the car chase or the lovers meeting.  Identify the most interesting part of your message and jump in.

3. Rehearse your opening.

The opening of your presentation or conversation influences the outcome of a sale more than you may realize.  That’s why you want to make sure you have it down.  Unless you’re a professional improviser, invest some time crafting a compelling opening, editing it down to an ideal length (45-90 seconds) and practicing it until it shines.  Having a rehearsed opening in your back pocket will give you a powerful boost of confidence and set the tone for the rest of your presentation.

4. Know your “One Thing.”

Imagine your prospect is telling his manager about your presentation the next day.  What is the one thing you want to be sure he gets across?  Of course we all have many things we’d like our prospect to remember, but if you had to pick one, what would it be?    Make it easy for your audience to recall what’s really important by summarizing your “one thing” in a simple power-bite, then put it up front in the opening and call back to at the end.

5. Break your content into chunks.

From texting to tweeting to watching videos, people are consuming their information in bite size pieces today. You only have to look at your own habits to verify that. Your prospect is no different.  Take your content and break it into smaller 3-5 minute chunks to ensure that your prospect stays tuned in throughout your presentation.

Step into the present with your sales presentation.  Make the most of hard won time in front of busy prospects and leverage the power of a contemporary new tool set.  Your daddy would be proud.


presentation skills, sales presentations, sales tips

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