I love Jimmy Fallon’s monologue.
It’s clever and topical. It’s short and interactive. It’s everything a sales monologue in a presentation is not. To be fair, delivering a monologue is exceptionally difficult — even for the pros. It’s always easier for performers to interact with another actor in a scene or for a television host to interview a guest, than to stand up and talk directly to an audience solo for four to five minutes.
Too many salespeople approach their sales presentation as a series of long monologues to get through – without understanding what it takes to keep an audience’s attention during that time.
How often in your personal life do you stop and allow someone to speak to you for five or ten minutes straight without some type of response or interaction? Unless you’re taking a class or being “told off”, probably not often. Yet, that’s exactly what happens in a sales presentation. And that’s a real problem with today’s declining attention spans. Research shows that the average person’s attention is at its peak when you start talking, drops nearly in half at 5 minutes, and reaches it’s lowest point somewhere around the 10 minute mark. Unfortunately many salespeople are just getting to their point at 10 minutes.
But you have a fair amount of content to share with your prospect, so what’s the solution?
I’m going to pass on a couple of tips from the pros for turning those monologues into more of a dialogue in your presentation that keeps your audience engaged and interested.
4 Sales Tips from Jimmy Fallon
React to your silent scene partner
I’ll let you in on an acting secret: There is no such thing as a monologue – you are always engaged in a dialogue. The difference between a monologue and a dialogue is that in a monologue the other person’s part is silent. To help make your audience feel like they are engaged in a dialogue when you are delivering a long stretch of content, you must continually adjust your delivery to respond to either the other person’s nonverbal reactions — a smile, a frown, crossed arms, an aside glance to a peer – or a question that you imagine they are asking themselves as you speak. Your words will take on more meaning and your audience will feel a stronger connection to what you’re saying when you are addressing a perceived question or reaction.
Break it into 5-7 minute chunks.
Based on attention spans, you need to do something to re-engage your audience before their attention hits the lowest point. Think about how you can break a subject down into a five minute piece. This “chunking” of your material hits the reset button on attention as you switch gears into a new topic.
Even Jimmy Fallon has a sidekick. Don’t try to be a one-man or one-woman show. Ask your audience a question. Introduce a poll. Have someone from the audience write the answers down on a whiteboard for you. The more you get your prospects engaged, the more they will pay attention and the likelier they will remember your message.
Practice like a Pro.
Pros like Jimmy Fallon don’t just wing it. If you’re in New York you can buy a ticket to see Jimmy Fallon rehearse his monologue, trying out material for the night and different ways to deliver it. By the time the cameras go on, he is at his best. Your time in front of your prospect is your on-camera time. Don’t waste it testing out new material. Practice an important presentation or conversation by videotaping it or delivering it to peers so you can receive and apply valuable feedback.
I encourage you to look through your presentation for those long, dry stretches of content and think about where you can break it up, or how you can turn it into a dialogue. To make it even easier for you to keep your audience consistently engaged, check out all my Audience Engagement Tips in my new book, Sales Presentations for Dummies.