Use Fewer Words
First let’s learn what Jerry Seinfield says – because after all if you can learn from a marquee comedian who gets millions of dollars a year, well, it’s going to help with your sales. Jerry said, “I will take an hour to edit an eight-word sentence down to five.” Now in his case, he knows the fewer the words between the set-up and the punch word, the bigger the laugh. For us in business communication our goal is, to speak to be remembered and repeated. If we can get across our message in less words, take out the fluff, what isn’t needed, what is assumed, the words that are left are going to be more memorable. What I recommend you do is literally script the opening part and the closing part of your presentation. Record your presentation and listen and see where you can edit out phrases. For example, “Each and everyone of you in this room…” takes nine words to say “you.” Because if you want to emotionally connect with your audience just say “you” rather than “everyone in the room” and they all hear and realize, “The sales professional is talking to me.”
Build Credibility with Specificity
If you want your sales presentations to go from good, to great, to awesome, another strategy is to remember that specificity builds credibility. For example, don’t say, “Oh, our clients always increase sales or productivity.” You could say, “Of course, there are no guarantees. However, if we were to look at our last five major clients, they would say that within six months their productivity improved by at least 37 percent. It would be safe to say that you could look forward to those types of results.” Be specific.
Avoid This Unconscious Goof
Next, ask yourself if you are guilty of the unconscious goof that is ruining your credibility. It is the use of sloppy and nonspecific language. Most important is avoiding the word that it is my mission to wipe out – and I am failing in this – it is the word “stuff.” We are talking about high priced products, service, expertise, and technology; don’t call it debris. Look at specific language. One, it justifies the price of your offerings. Second, be aware that for many in our audience, although they may speak perfect English, English is not their first language; if we do not use specific language, they don’t know what we’re saying. So we need to utilize clean, concise, specific language.
Create Visual Aides that Support (Not Subvert) Your Message
Having edited your presentation down to a nub, you are ready to work on the visual aides. You must have your structure, your stories, and your scripting in place before you ask yourself, “Where do I need the visual aides to help clarify and to keep everyone on track? Remember your visuals are visual; they are not scripting techniques. They support your message. They are not you. And as you’ve heard before, you only build them after you have put together your script. If you are like most people, for each presentation you are going to take different slides from different decks. Be aware of consistency when you combine your slides. For example, are you just going to put a capital letter at the beginning of each sentence and start of each bullet point or are you going to have a capital at the beginning of every important word? As one of my clients said, “Be aware of the random acts of capitalization; if you’re pulling slides from different decks and they don’t match, there will be a disconnect with the audience.” Again, your visual aides come after you’ve designed your presentation. One technique recommenced by my associate and PowerPoint expert, Jim Prost is to just bring one talking point in at a time as you talk about it. This helps you tell your story. Ask yourself the questions, “Am I using PowerPoint as a crutch? Could I in fact simplify this?”
Darren LaCroix and Patricia Fripp are partners in World Champions Edge coaching community with Ed Tate, Mark Brown, and Craig Valentine. You can hear them all at Lady and the Champs 2013 How to Speaking Conference in Las Vegas. Patricia and her friends are experts in public speaking, business presentations, sales presentations, marketing yourself and how to use social media to your advantage. These are all covered in Lady and the Champs.
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