Angela Definis of Blog Carnival asked me to write a blog on the impact of public speaking on top sales performance. Books have been written on this very topic. I will just summary here a few of the many keys points that I have in my own book.
An excellent example of the impact of public speaking on top sales performance is none other than Steve Jobs. Just look at his presentation on this blog and others and you would see the passion that he possessed when he made his sales presentation. That brings us to the first point. You must show passion in your presentation. It was the German philosopher George Hegel who said “Nothing great has been accomplished without passion.” It is extremely important for you to show passion when you’re making your sales presentation. Remember the basic reason why you are there. You are there to convince somebody to buy something from you and if you can’t show passion about your own product, who’s going to buy that product from you? The people in the audience need to know that you truly believe in what you’re saying. They need to know that you have not made the same old boring presentation to 100 other customers and that they are now victim number 101. They need to get the sense that your presentation is the most important presentation you have ever made in your career. Your passion must show through. The best presentations are the ones with high voltage.
The next point to remember is that you must focus your audience’s attention on you. That means that you do not load your presentation with slides containing a bunch of horrible bullet points. You do not want your audience to read your slides. You want them to listen to you, to see you and to feel your passion.
The best way to get attention is to give it. You do that by doing your homework by understanding what your customer wants.
Another way of keeping your audience attention is to vary your tone of voice throughout the presentation. Never use a monotone. At various stages of your talk, you could go from slow to fast, loud to soft, humorous to serious, and melancholic to joyful. Use plenty of interesting and out of the ordinary examples. Use examples that your audience can relate to. The difference between the presentation with variety and one without this like the difference between a river and a canal. If you’re floating down the river, it presents different surprises at every bend. You may go from farmland to gorges to forest just by floating along. The canal on the other hand is a man-made ditch that is straight and not very interesting.
Another important point to remember is that your sales presentation is not about your ego. It is about your ideas. It is about your products. So avoid telling the audience how great you are. Focus on the product or idea and not on you. If you go and look at Steve Jobs’ presentation, you never hear him brag about how smart he is.
Also make sure that your presentation is concise and to the point. Sometimes less is better. Do not fall into the trap of wanting to tell the audience everything about you and your product. All that does is confuse the audience. You certainly do not want your audience to describe your presentation as “a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
It is not necessary for you to cover all possible combinations and permutations in your proposed solution to your audience. You can employ a technique known as “cognizant omission” that is used by many professional speakers. For example: you start by telling your audience that you have looked at all possible scenarios and you have narrowed them down to three and these are worthy of further discussions. In that way no one in the audience is going to think that you have ignored or overlooked some salient points of your argument.
Another important point to remember is that your sales presentation is a conversation with your potential customers. It is not public speaking – it is public conversation. You’re talking to your future customers about what your product can do for them. Therefore it should not be a monologue. So try to engage your customers early during your presentation. Get them to talk to you. One way to do that is to invite them right up front at the beginning of your sales presentation to interrupt you anytime they have any questions.
One very last point to remember is that you should always prepare for any anticipated questions. This is where smart rehearsal comes in handy. You do not rehearse the delivery of your presentation. But you do spend time on how you will answer any anticipated questions about your product. That means you need to do extensive research. So just give a conversational type of presentation with the knowledge that you will be able to answer any questions posed by your audience.
If you keep all these points above in mind, chances are you will make an excellent sales performance.