June 23

Gain Instant Credibility in Your Presentation or Demo with the Movie Critic Principle


Thousands of movie-goers rely on reviews from people they’ve never met to guide them before shelling out hard cash for a movie. We are willing to trust the opinion of a disinterested third-party, whether it’s a website like Flixter or Rotten Tomatoes, or a newspaper or magazine, because they, like us, have no personal stake in the film’s success.  Contrast that to the trust factor we have for someone associated with the movie, like the star or the director.  Their claims that it’s a “must see” or “5 Stars” are usually greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism.

This Movie Critic Principle can be applied to give you an immediate shot of credibility when it matters most:  at the critical start of your presentation or demo. By using a third party to introduce you, you can set audience expectations, create anticipation and boost credibility.  Three things that are much more difficult to accomplish on your own.

“But I introduce myself,” you say. 

Ah, that’s the actor promoting his own movie. 

Why allow even a spark of skepticism to take hold during your presentation?  Besides, listing off your own credentials is awkward for both you and your audience.  It is difficult to talk about yourself without sounding either arrogant or self-conscious.  Most people (yes, even salespeople) are uncomfortable blowing their own horn.  To compensate, they may rush through their credentials, often leaving out information that might be relevant. Many presenters discount their achievements, “I’ve worked 15 years in Human Capital Management…well, technically three of those years were spent working in the IT department, so it’s probably more like 12…”

Avoid this awkward and choppy start by having a professional, pre-planned introduction.

Here’s how to do a good third-party introduction:

  1. Type out a short introduction for yourself including an opening sentence, two-three relevant points about why you are qualified to talk to your audience and a hand off statement.  (Note: this is meant to be read verbatim, so no last minute chicken scratch on a post-it note! Type it out in large font in advance.)
  2. Enlist the aid of a sponsor or audience member to introduce you. Hand it to your sponsor or, if it’s a team presentation, a colleague. (Yes, I know.  You’re in the “same movie,” but it’s still better than introducing yourself.)  Have them read it once out loud before your presentation to make sure they don’t stumble over any acronyms or tricky pronunciations.
  3. Ask your sponsor to add any opening remarks or instructions they might like before your introduction (e.g., cell phones and laptops off, presentation length, etc.) and then simply read the introduction just as it’s written.
  4. Jump right into your presentation with the audience on your side!

The first time you do this you will wonder why you hadn’t thought of it earlier.  The energy, respect and attention you receive from your audience, will give you a great boost of confidence and set the tone for the rest of your presentation.

Two thumbs up!

For more great tips on making your presentation or demo stand out from the crowd, check out my resources page.


Demo, demonstration, opening, presentation skills, sales presentation, sales skills, sales tips

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