Sales Presentations begin with a good story

I think that there are two different types of presentation we're often required to give. The first is what I'll call the basic, "let me share with you an update on what's going on." Things such as first quarter results, how the construction project is proceeding, status on open positions that need to be filled all fall into this category. You've probably given a few of these and attended more than your share.

The second type is what I refer to as sales presentations. The goal here is to persuade the audience to do something. Although the room may be filled with attendees, it's likely that only a few are actually in a position to take action on what you're recommending. Thus, one of the challenges of these types of speeches is to make sure you persuade the decision makers without boring to tears the rest of the audience.

As with any speech you want to begin with the end in mind. What's the point you want to make or what action do you want the decision makers to take when you're done? This sounds rather obvious, but the reality is that many people start developing their speech by focusing on what do I want to say, rather than what do I want to the audience to do? That's a real and very important differentiation.

Once you have the goal of the speech in mind, the next part is develop a long tail story. A long tail story is simply one that has a number of components to it. The goal with this type of story is to engage the listener with the opening and move them through a series of steps so that at the end they are motivated to do what you want.

The chief failing of most presentations is that they simply bore the audience to tears. That's why you want to focus on stories rather than the dry and dull facts and figures. The good news is that creating the long-tail story isn't terribly difficult as long as you follow a formula. This formula has only a few parts to it, so it's not hard to construct.

I'll share with you next time how we hook the listener and get them engaged in what you're about to share.

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