Winning Business through Powerful Presentations

Winning Business through Powerful Presentations

Imagine this, you walk into a room full of people and take a seat.  The lights dim and a well-dressed speaker walks on, taking centre stage.  The presentation begins.  Your senses are pleasantly assaulted by visuals, music and a powerful voice that cleverly introduces you to a significant idea that resonates immediately.  As the lights brighten again you check the time.  It feels like 20 minutes have gone by, but actually a whole hour has raced by.

When you witness a great presentation, it's only normally through hindsight that you appreciate the excellent presenter behind it.  This is because a quality presentation makes you to get lost in the content and be thoroughly absorbed.  It’s rather like a poor newsreader drawing attention to themselves rather than allowing you to listen past them to the news itself.

Sometimes, professionals may get the chance to speak in front of a group of people to present themselves.   If this opportunity came your way, how would you fare on your feet?

Indeed, how do you make powerful and winning presentations every single time?  The myth is that you have to have a knack for it and the real truth is, thankfully, something much more exciting.  In fact it’s as simple as ABCDE.

The Alphabet Presentation Model is an easy to follow template that anyone can use and it takes moments to learn.  The catch, if there is one, is that you need to use it a few times to appreciate how it can transform a dull, rather uninteresting presentation into something sharp, mesmerising and very powerful.  The formula was in fact ‘discovered’ through research by UK business trainer Chris Cummins after he decided to watch and make notes on over 140 presentations by successful speakers and presenters, both live and on line.  What emerged was a model that all the best presenters were using, knowingly or subconsciously.  The poorest presentations used no such model.

A is for Agitate

This is the mark of a great presenter.  Does he or she kick things off with stuff like: “Can you hear me at the back?” or do they make a statement that have minds reeling, instantly grabbing the attention of now a wide-eyed audience?

Agitating your audience can take a little courage.  It means being bold and doing or saying something that’s completely unexpected.  You may assume this would only work with certain subjects, but in fact it can work with any topic.

The only rule about agitation is that it should be linked in some way to the main subject. Choosing to agitate where the agitation has no connection with what you’re about to speak on is likely to be dismissed as a stunt and create hostility rather than audience connection.  Let’s look at an example:  A meeting you’re leading needs to make a decision about something important.  Perhaps it’ s a group pension scheme. How about showing a picture of a young man in the 1970s.

His name is Ron Wayne.  In 1976, he owned a 10% stake in Apple inc. along with Steve Jobs. Today he would be worth $48,065,210,000, but after 12 days he decided to sell his share for just $800!  Okay, now you’ve got everyone’s attention you could say something like, “Let’s hope we can make a better decision today…”

Can you see how this agitation-style attention grabber, where people have no idea where you’re headed will make a big difference to the all-important beginning of a great presentation?  It does involve doing some homework, but ultimately it’s entirely worth it if you seriously want a presentation that gets a terrific response from the very start.

B is for Benefits

The second step in this simple process is to offer the audience some benefits, a return on their time and investment in other words.  Why should they sit and listen, given they will never ever get their time back again?  When offering benefits make it one big benefit that cements everyone to their seats, or come up with three smaller ones.  The latter approach is probably easier and safer as a strategy and, by the way, if you can’t think of three solid reasons why they should listen to you, isn’t it time you take a long hard look at your material for your presentation?

C is for Connection

This is the watershed step.  Unless you, the speaker, connect with the group you’re addressing they will tend to switch off in their droves and then it becomes a waste of time for everyone concerned.  How do you ensure you connect?

There are three ways you can achieve this:

  • humour - but it needs to be appropriate to the subject
  • eye contact - make as much eye contact with the room as is possible
  • self-deprecation - audiences love presenters who are prepared to poke fun at themselves

When the audience has connected with you, you’re ready for the next step.

D is for Deliver the Message

This now becomes the easy part. Tell them what you want to tell them in the most memorable way you can think of, continuing to use the connection tools and serving up your material in the most entertaining way possible.

E is for Exit

The next time you watch a presentation, notice how the speaker is unlikely to end on something that feels like a ‘book end’.  You must create an ending that clearly feels like closure to the presentation and also makes the audience feel like bursting into applause.

There are 5 ‘Exits’ for presenters.  Any one of these will get an audience feeling good about your conclusion because it matches up to the strong opening.  Here they are:

1 - Emotion

2 - 3-Ender

3 - Call to Action

4 - Humour

5 - The Loop

Number 1 & 4 are fairly easy to understand, ending on a highly emotional point or something very funny are always used by professional presenters.  The third one is often used by politicians at rallies, getting the listeners motivated so they go away and do something about the message they’ve just heard. Number 2 is also often used by politicians at party conferences where a phrase or a key word is repeated three times with three different endings…

Members I appreciate your support, members I respect your decisions and most of all members, I thank you for your commitment …

Finally, ‘The Loop’ is starting a story at the beginning of the presentation, veering off the subject, and only coming back to complete the story right at the very end.  Comedians, story tellers and playwrights have been using loops for centuries.

Whether you are a speaker who has many years and scores of presentations under your belt, or someone new to presenting, you now have something up your sleeve for instant and imaginative use the next time you need to stand up and present successfully. 

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