Sunday, July 18, 2010

5 Laws of Nature - For Presentations

Carl Sagan, the late brillant astrophysicist, often spoke about the "Laws of Nature." He was referring to principles that, upon centuries of testing, always produced the same result. Great examples are: The Law of Motion, The Law of Gravity, The Law of Evolution.

For salespeople, we have Laws of Nature too. We have: The Law of Customer Impact, The Law of Business Knowledge, The Law of Activity Generates Customers. Today, let's discuss five important Laws of Nature for making compelling presentations to our customers:

Law #1: Professionals Don't Wing It. Have you ever seen a presentation which looked so perfect, so flawless that you assumed that the individual was simply a genius when it came to the topic? No, my friends, this isn't true. The presentation APPEARED that way, because they practiced it thousands of times. Don't let your peers tell you any different. Professionals Don't Wing It.

Law #2: Audio and video use increase retention of the information by over 30%. This one is scientific. Learning professionals have reproduced these studies for years. They know that a dull PowerPoint presentation alone pales in comparison to those presentations adjuncted by creative audio and video support. Use the whiteboard, a flip-chart, music (where appropriate), video and blow your competition away. Does it take more work? Of course. Selling takes work.

Law #3: The presentation is more about YOU, than the material. People remember the things you do during a presentation. Do you sit and read your slides with a laser pointer? BORING. They'll forget it. Get up and move around the room. Stand up, sit down, croutch down, raise your arms, whisper, shout. Look people in the eye. Speak to individuals as if you were alone together. Be a bit overly-dramatic (whithin reason). Be passionate, like this is the most important thing they'll ever hear. Practice (see Law #1). Be perfect.

Law #4: Use PowerPoint - Don't Abuse It! OK, you've read it before, but start living these important rules: A) No more than 3 bullets per slide; no more than 3-4 words per bullet. It's not about the slide. You're going to give them the information in other ways. Need to relay more information? Add another slide! B) Pictures work much better than words. Don't use Clip-Art. Go to Google Images and find real pictures, illustrations and photographs that relay your meaning. C) No complex diagrams. There's no good place in PowerPoint for a complex slide. If you need to present something complex, the best way is to draw it, by hand, on a white board. Your audience will internalize the drawing as you're developing it. D) Be creative. If you saw a slide that looked like yours anytime in the past 6 months, don't do it! Come up with something new. Creativity is the key. Use Microsoft's new Office 2010's SmartArt. Nobody's figured out good ways to use it yet. Be the one!

Law #5: Your Presentation is like a good concert. Start off with a bang! Make a great start. Think about the concerts you've attended. How many kick-ass songs do they play before they do a slow-tune? How do they end the concert? With you screaming for more. This is exactly what you must do during the presentation. Start off kick-ass - move to less exciting topics - end with your audience feeling as if they NEED more from you.

Oh, and one more thing, don't hand out anything during your presentation. It will distract your customers and decrease how much they pay attention to you. When you're done, feel free to distribute your documents - explain them.

Sagan said, "We live in and between universes, where things change alright, but according to patterns, rules, or, as we call them, Laws of Nature." While things change in sales presentations, some things are simply true. Don't violate the Laws.

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