Many years ago I attended a course on selling and decided to immediately put into action a key segment of what I had learnt. I had a big appointment coming up, a presentation to a human resources director, the marketing manager and four factory managers of a pharmaceutical company. They needed a programme to increase the hands-on leadership skills of their 40 supervisors in charge of four production lines.
I started the presentation by providing a five-minute overview of my company, describing the aspects of my operation that I saw as relevant to the client. I then immediately requested permission to ask them a few questions, to which they all agreed. I asked the first factory manager what he saw as the ideal outcome of the course for his people. He listed seven outcomes. I wrote them all down, repeated all seven back to him and asked if I had them all correct. He nodded. I went to the next manager and did the same. He stated that he agreed with his previous colleague, but would like to add two more points. I wrote them down and then read the list of nine points back to him. He nodded. The third manager only added one more point. Again, I wrote it down, repeating all 10 points. He nodded. Then to the fourth manager, who added two of his own and said that one of the previous points was not important to him.
I thanked him and then read all 12 points back to the audience, making eye contact with all six participants. I was careful to say each manager’s name when reading his points. I then asked the marketing manager, also by name, if he had anything to add. No, he assured me, I’d heard it all from the horse’s mouth. The HRD waved me on to continue.
My next step was to briefly outline the programme that would meet their needs and how it worked, but I kept this to three minutes. Armed with their 12 desired outcomes, I then showed them, point by point, exactly how the programme would meet their required outcomes. This took about 25 minutes. More nodding of heads. Then I invited questions from them. I was asked three, mostly logistical, questions but nothing that came anywhere near being an objection.
I ended by asking them when they would like to see the process completed and was told it should be within the next four months. I then promised them a proposal outlining what had been discussed and they in turn promised me an answer within a week of receiving the written proposal. I had my answer by the end of that week. It was a resounding yes and a request for dates.
I had gone in knowing exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. I was in control of the entire presentation, but it was conducted in a friendly, cooperative atmosphere. Within a short time frame I had my desired outcome and the client had theirs.
If you are serious about delivering a successful presentation or talk, it is imperative to get organised early on in the planning stages and stay organised. In the event of an unsuccessful presentation, one will often be able to pinpoint lack of proper organisation as the main culprit.
Remember, successful doesn’t mean getting through the presentation, it means achieving your objective!
It’s a pity this point eludes many presenters, whose primary objective seems to be to win popular approval from the audience. We’ve all experienced doubling over with laughter at a clever advert – but then can’t remember what product it was advertising. Smart is good, but proper preparation will ensure that the clever bits complement your main messages and that they are used in the proper context in order to ensure maximum impact.