In Presenting to Win, corporate presentations coach Jerry Weissman shows how to create power presentations that can inform and persuade even the most hostile of audiences.
Weissman writes that few human activities are done as often as presentations, and as poorly. He explains that the vast majority of presentations fall prey to the Five Cardinal Sins:
- No clear point. The audience leaves the presentation wondering what it was all about.
- No audience benefit. The presentation fails to show how the audience can benefit from the information.
- No clear flow. The sequence of ideas is so confusing that the audience is unable to follow.
- Too detailed. The main point is obscured by irrelevant information.
- Too long. The audience loses focus and gets bored.
Every time you make a presentation, Weissman explains, you are trying to get the audience to do your bidding. The key to getting them to act is to build a Power Presentation - one that avoids the five cardinal sins.
Most people in business are too busy living their stories to focus on telling them. They rarely have the opportunity to step back and see the whole. Weissman writes that the remedy is painfully apparent: Focus. Give audience members only what they need to know.
Whether it is a formal presentation, speech, sales pitch, seminar or jury summation, Weissman explains that every communication has as its goal to take audience members from where they are at the start of your presentation (Point A) to your objective (Point B). This dynamic shift is persuasion.
- Point A is the inert place where audience members start. They are uninformed, knowing little about you or your business, dubious, skeptical and ready to question your claims.
- Point B is what you want them to do. To reach Point B, you must move uninformed audience members to understand, dubious audience members to believe, and resistant audience members to act. Point B is the endgame of every presentation.
According to Weissman, the only way to create a successful presentation is to begin with the goal in mind.
To get your audience to Point B, Weissman writes that you must learn to view yourself, your company, your story, and your presentation through the eyes of your audience. This is called Audience Advocacy. Everything you say and do in your presentation must serve the needs of your audience, he adds. If Audience Advocacy guides every decision in preparing your presentation, you'll be effective and persuasive.
Start by shifting the focus from features to benefits, Weissman writes. A feature is a fact or quality about you or your company, the products you sell or the idea you're advocating. By contrast, a benefit is how that fact or quality will help your audience. When you seek to persuade, every feature must always be translated into a benefit. For people to act on anything, they must have a reason to act, and it must be their reason, not yours.
Weissman writes that the key building block for Audience Advocacy is WIIFY - What's In It For You. The WIIFY is the audience benefit. In any presentation, before you make any statement about yourself, your company, or the products and services you offer, ask yourself, "What's the WIIFY? What benefit does this offer my listener?"
Some examples of WIIFY include:
- When an entrepreneurial CEO and his or her management team launch an IPO road show for potential investors, the WIIFY is, "If you invest in our company, you'll enjoy an excellent return for your money."
- When a corporate headhunter makes a job offer to a sought-after young recruit, the WIIFY is, "If you join our firm, you'll be starting an incredible career with great pay, fascinating challenges, and the prospect of someday becoming company president!"
For your presentation to be fresh, Weissman advises, you must create the illusion of the first time, every time. Make a deliberate effort to focus your energy every time you present. He writes that the most effective way to accomplish this is through customizing:
- Mention specifically, by name one or more members of the audience.
- Make reference to a person, company or organization related to both you and your audience.
- Address a question directly to one or more members of the audience.
- Make reference to what is happening on the day of your presentation.
- Make reference to current information that links to and supports your message.
- Start your presentation with a slide that includes your audience, location and the date. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries