Category Archives: Communication

Know Your Audience…

Imagine spending over 100 hours creating an incredible presentation. The images are creative and beautiful, the words powerful and inspirational, and the animations humorous and intriguing. You fly into town, put on your finest suit, shine your shoes, fix your hair, and get ready to present. Your first opening slide comes up and you are psyched to give your high-level sales-training speech. Little do you know, the audience is full of accountants who have never sold anything a day in their lives.

One of the greatest failures of presenter is not taking the time to know the audience and plan accordingly. Do the research beforehand – ask the key questions and play detective. Where are you presenting, know what is the topic for the day (if you are one of a panel of presenters), how many people are signed up, what’s the demographic, how much they are paying, who are the other speakers, and what are their topics, etc. This is so essential and often overlooked.

Completing your due diligence will allow you to create a better presentation overall. It will be more relevant to the audience, hold their attention, and ultimately, it will bring in more business (or buy-in) for you. By knowing your audience beforehand, you can use images that are appropriate (maybe a certain ethnic group or gender), you can adjust the wording of your slides (maybe more or less technical), you can gauge the use of humor, the overall time, the amount of time for questions, the way you dress, handouts, and so on.

Knowing your audience can truly make or break your presentation, no matter how great the design and the speech may be. Do the work when you sign up for the job… it will be well worth your time.

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The Rule of Three…

When giving presentations or public talks, the Rule of Three is a powerful rule to remember. You should commit this to memory and practice writing and presenting using this rule. The rule is simple: When making a point, use three words or ideas in a row. The audience is more likely to consume and comprehend an idea when it is presented as part of a trio.

Using the Rule of Three allows you to present a concept more clearly, concisely, and memorably. In his book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, Roy Peter Clark provides insights into the magic of the number three. He states, “Use one for power. Use two for comparison, contrast. Use three for completeness, wholeness, roundness. Use four or more to list, inventory, compile, and expand.”

The rule of three has created timeless speeches, stories, and historical foundations. Some examples include:

  • From the Declaration of Independence – “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
  • From religion – “Father, son, and holy spirit”
  • From movies – “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
  • From children’s stories – “The Three Little Pigs” or “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”
  • From real estate – “Location, location, location”
  • From Julius Caesar – “Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”)
  • From entertainment – “Three-ring circus” or “The Three Stooges”

As you can see, the Rule of Three has a powerful history. It’s nothing new and has been used throughout time to make powerful points, in the formation of governments (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches), and to engrain concepts into the memory of generations.

So, remember in your next speech to use the Rule of Three… and that’s  the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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Follow-Up? What Follow-Up?

You just gave the presentation of a lifetime. You had a room full of top decision-makers from your all-time top prospects. You had their ear and they were eating up every word of what you had to say. These execs were engaged, their wheels were spinning, and they wanted you, your product, or your service. So, the presentation ends and what do you do?

I can’t even count how many times people come to me and we discuss presentation strategy and develop a great game plan and a fantastic presentation. And, a month later, they call me and are wondering why the presentation didn’t turn into new business. My first question is always, “What did you do after the presentation ended?” Did you have a follow-up plan of action in place or did you just let it go, thinking that the audience was going to call you?

Just as important as the presentation, if not even more so, is your follow-up. You must have a plan in place before you set foot into that room and start speaking. Without a good follow-up plan, you are basically leaving it all on the table, because I can pretty much guarantee that no one is going to be calling you without some further provoking.

There are many strategies to employ. Try collecting email addresses and sending a follow-up email. Or, ask if audience members want to receive your newsletter or blog posts. You can always try a good old-fashioned phone call. What about an invitation to your next presentation or even a webinar? The strategies are endless, but the key point remains – have a strategy and make it very specific. In addition to your actions, put a timetable together so you know that, for example, seven days after the presentation, attendees get a phone call. Seven days after that is a follow-up email. Ten days later is a snail-mail letter and an invitation to your next speech. Don’t let too much time pass as you want to hit them hard in the weeks immediately following your presentation.

What are some of your strategies for follow up? Share below… I would love to hear how others do it.

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Elevate Your Elevator Speech…

The scenario is all too familiar – you are at a networking event, tradeshow, or cocktail party and someone asks, “What do you do?” Many people dread this question because they think their answer must be creative or profound. In reality, your answer should try to serve as a conversation starter.

All too often, someone responds and you can see the questioner’s eyes begin to glaze over. So how do you alter this scenario so that your “elevator speech” makes an impact on those asking?

Begin by taking a second to think about who is asking and why. You want to make the conversation about that person… people love to talk about and hear about themselves. And if the person has an issue you can help with, even better! Emphasize his or her needs rather than what you do. Focus on what the client values.

Answer the “so what” before you are asked. Don’t just say, “I sell IT systems” – the response is likely an unspoken “so what?” Explain what your technology can do for the potential client. Don’t just mention features… again, focus on the prospect and what those features can do for the client and how you can help the person achieve goals.

Speak to the person asking, not above him. Use language he will understand – that doesn’t mean to talk to him like a child, but simplify so that what you say makes sense.

Another fantastic way to better your short introduction is by using specific examples tailored to the person with whom you are speaking. Ask questions and then tailor your comments to reflect her response. Tell stories about ways you have worked with clients in the past.

Remembering some of these tips should help you next time you are approached at a gathering.

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