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Tips on creating presentations with personality

Posts Tagged ‘sales presentations’

The TED Commandments: lose hustle, win friends.

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

There’s a time and a place for a sales presentation, and conferences aren’t it.

People pay good money to go to conferences. In return, they want to learn amazing new things, discover future trends, and learn how others in the same industry have solved problems.

They don’t want a blatant sales hustle from the lectern. Conference sponsors find this hard to resist, having paid good money to support the delegates’ voracious appetite for liquor each evening. Even if you’re so kind as to pick up the whole tab, however, the audience will still resent a Brandpower-style eulogy on the wonders of your product.

In this situation, the best approach is to do a useful talk on some important industry trend, without the direct product plugs. You can still present the topic with a skew toward your company’s viewpoint, and people are OK with that. The brand benefits come from people thinking: that presenter from Acme Industries was really interesting and gave me some useful information. When it’s time to buy, I’ll trust them.

The TED conference is a shining example of how successful the non-hustle approach can be. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design, with the motto ‘Ideas Worth Sharing’. It holds an annual conference in Long Beach, and tickets to it are  among the most sought-after in the events world.  It attracts a stellar lineup of speakers, all of whom you can catch on video for free.

And no matter who’s presenting, whether it’s Bill Gates, Anthony Robbins or Bill Clinton, they have to obey the rules. The ‘TED Commandments’ are a great guide for anyone who wants to really engage an audience, rather than the polite tolerance that most speakers receive.

1. Thou shalt no simply trot out thy usual schtick.

2. Thous shalt dream a great dream, or show forth a wondrous new thing, or share something thou hast never shared before.

3. Thou shalt reveal thy curiosity and thy passion.

4. Thou shalt tell a story.

5. Thou shalt freely comment on the utterances of other speakers for the sake of blessed connection and exquisite controversy.

6. Thou shalt not flaunt thine ego. Be thou vulnerable. Speak of thy failure as well as thy success.

7. Thou shalt not sell from the stage: neither thy company, thy goods, thy writings, nor thy desperate need for funding, lest thy be cast aside into outer darkness.

8. Thou shalt remember all the while: laughter is good.

9. Thou shalt not read thy speech.

10. Thou shalt not steal the time of them that follow thee.

Any presenter wanting to improve their style could spend literally weeks watching videos of TED presentations. You’ll learn more from it than a thousand cheesy how-to-present books.

Sales Presentations Part 2: Make Your Business Seem Bigger

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009


Pic courtesy Eva

Last post we spoke of some of the traps small business people make when they’re doing sales presentations, particularly the relentless use of the exclamation mark.

Trivia: did you know that in print newsrooms, where every exclamation mark is hunted down and exterminated, they call them a ‘dog’s dick’? Well, now you do.

Once you’ve removed some of the small business-y claims from your presentation, here are 5 tips on what to replace them with.

1. Use specific claims, not blathery ones.

We helped our clients grow and develop their business by a considerable amount across a wide range of areas and parameters.

Our product helped clients increase their gross margin by 14%.

Clients don’t know what ‘considerable‘ means. They know what ‘14%‘ means, and can see what that would do for their business.

2. Very specific numbers are better.

Business growth of 40% per year sounds like a number you pulled out of your… imagination. Business growth of 42.1% sounds like an audited figure. Same with budgets if that’s part of your presentation.

3. Provide specific proof of your track record

A client list that just says: Microsoft. Ford. Kraft. McDonalds. is too unprovable and implausible, and if you’re a small company, suggests you probably worked with one of their licensed parts dealerships in some remote outpost. Get quotes from clients with specific names and job titles, which your audience will accept as clear evidence that you’re legit.

4. Make it all about the client

If you’re lacking shots of your deluxe headquarters or army of good-looking staff because you don’t have either of those things, just fill everything up with pictures of the potential client and their products. Facts that you’ve learnt about them. And ideas on how you can help them. Clients love their own products, and they’ll view you as really focused on them. For some specific tips on pirating other people’s deluxe office lobbies for staff portrait shots, look here.

5. Don’t try to be everything - specialize in something

Small businesses tend to want to be everything. You see it in ‘From This, To This!‘ syndrome.

Say, it’s a catering business. The sales presentation will go something like this:

‘From fundraiser barbecues to international gala dinners! From burgers to Michelin-star cuisine!’

From their previous experience, customers don’t trust the bogus one-stop-shop claim. Work out what your realistic strengths are, and try to find a specialization not currently occupied by anyone else (this may take some time, and some hired marketing help, or at least reading one of the old Ries and Trout books on market positioning).

So the caterer might pitch itself as a specialist in finance industry events, or the caterer with the highest hygiene standards in the city, or the caterer that will only use local, seasonal produce.

Aim for a specific, believable niche, and you can make a name for yourself. Claim to be the expert in everything, and you’re just another generic name from the Yellow Pages, getting shopped around by human roaches  for the lowest-price deal.