June 15

How to make your presentation sticky


Longer buying cycles and increasingly complex sales are making it  rare that a sales presentation or demonstration ends in a signed contract. Often decision-makers don’t get together for days, weeks or even months to discuss your proposal. During that time, your prospect has seen additional vendors and had to contend with new demands and challenges. How do you make sure that your message is remembered after you walk out the door – and not confused with that of your competition? You need to make  your presentation sticky.

In their book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath introduced the concept of being “sticky” – having top-of-mind recall with your customer − and it’s, well, stuck. Applying some of the key principles of what makes an idea sticky to your presentation is a great way to ensure you are top-of-mind when buying decision are made. Following are some tips for increasing the “stickiness” of your presentation:

6 Ways to Make Your Presentation Sticky:

1. Deliver a unique opening.

Starting off with an opening that sets you apart from your competitors will grab your prospect’s attention and increase your chances of retaining it through the rest of your presentation. Avoid the mind-numbing company overview or agenda and get creative. Use an anecdote, a poll, or an insight to ensure stronger recall of your presentation.

2. Reinforce one thing. 

In the book the author’s state, “If you attempt to say three things, you’ve said nothing.” In other words, trying to make too many points often has the opposite effect. Unless your prospect is a memory champion, the unfortunate truth is he will probably remember very little detail of your presentation. Make it easy for your prospect by determining what the one thing is you want him to remember and turning it into a short, catchy phrase that you use throughout your presentation.

3. Tell a story. 

Information has been passed down for centuries through stories. Stories are incredibly sticky. Using a story within your presentation to highlight a benefit, change a perception, or emphasize a key point is an extremely effective way to lock an idea in your prospect’s brain.

4. Introduce a prop. 

Using a visual aid in your presentation is proven to improve recall by almost two-thirds over no visual aid. Whiteboards, flip charts, any simple item that supports your message – all of these can greatly increase to recall of your presentation. Combine a prop with a story in your opening for a killer combo!

5. Expand your presence. 

While your prospect may not remember a lot of the details of your presentation, he will form a memory of the overall experience. Your voice, body and attitude – your presence – play a big role in what type of an experience your prospect will have. Use your voice to emphasize key points, move around your space with purpose and confidence, be intentional about connecting. All of these efforts can leave your prospect with the memory of a strong, positive experience of your presentation.

6. Tie back to your opening. 

The quality and content of your closing can determine whether your prospect remembers your message or it fades away with the previous night’s dreams. A memorable way to close is to bring your presentation full circle by calling back to your opening. Whether you used a story, a prop, or an insight, re-introducing it during your closing will help tie your presentation together and make it easier for your prospect to remember you and your message.

Get 100 more ways to make your presentation sticky in my new book, Sales Presentations for Dummies!SPFD - 3D Med


demonstration tips, make your sales presentation sticky, Openings, presentation skills

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  1. @Julie – great points! So many presentations never even get off the ground. Must engage from the beginning. The, “Our Company is the…. we have been around for…” only deliver zzzzz and no $$$.

  2. I definitely agree with delivering a unique opening, and sometimes what works is stating your goal upfront, right at the beginning of the meeting. It helps you have a target so you know what you are shooting for. And it gives the customer a framework for where you are going. Don’t be shy – be specific in your purpose.

    1. Thanks Taice, and I agree. The last thing you want to do is make your prospect feel like you’re wasting their time! I do think there’s a lot to be said for the element of surprise, so I would state the goal right after the opening — as long as your opening is under 2 minutes.

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