People often ask me for advice on giving sales presentations because I'm known for being a former sales trainer and for giving presentations in the park in front of imaginary audiences. I now will offer you some tips on delivering powerful sales presentations, tips I have been saving for my next book or for the next door-to-door encyclopedia salesperson convention, whichever comes first.
Let's start with the room. You want to give the appearance that people are interested in hearing you. Therefore, it's better to give your presentation in a small room and to have some people standing, than in a large room that will look empty if some people don't show up. A conference room usually will work. However, if you really want to impress the audience by making them feel there's standing-room only, try using a coat closet.
Get Their Attention
You can get great experience by speaking at your next town meeting. That and by being a party clown. I was a party clown, and the first thing I learned is you immediately must get the children's attention. The same is true with adults; you immediately must get their attention. Tell a joke. Give a statistic. And if those fail, hit 'em over the head with a foam hammer.
How many slides should you use? This is a common question. The number of slides you use should be based on the strength of your index finger. Mine starts to get sore after 15 mouse clicks, so that's the maximum number of slides I use. However, if you have good index finger stamina, you might be able to have as many as 100 slides.
How many bullets per slide? The answer depends on how well the presentation’s going. If you’re bombing and you’re not pleased with the audience’s response, you might need to reload, so bring an extra clip.
During the presentation, prospects may say things such as, "I wouldn't want your company's product if you were giving it away for free," which is their subtle way of telling you they're not convinced yet. Just continue with your presentation.
In addition to having a good delivery, interesting content, and nice breath, you must be able to sense when a sale is lost; you don't want to waste time giving a presentation to a person who won't buy. I once asked a prospect if he could see himself using my company’s product, and he replied, "Get lost!" which I interpreted as a "No." I wisely ended my presentation.
Lastly, regardless of how polished you are at presenting, you always will reach a moment when you feel the audience slipping away. At that point you must get their attention by raising your voice, using hand gestures, or making fart noises.
As a master of both oratory and origami, my presentation tips are sure to make any audience say, "Wow." And if they don't, I can always teach them how to make a paper swan…
Wayne E. Pollard's work has been published in The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Writer's Digest.