Anyone remember when Bill Gates had the dreaded BSOD during the Chicago Comdex keynote in 1998? That crash made headlines around the geek world. That big snafu didn’t stop the adoption of Windows, now did it? Learn how to take control of your presentation.
Here are some tips to ponder for your next engagement.
The typical demo is usually done with the lead demonstrator (or account manager) doing the introductions then handing off to the technical person, usually a sales engineer (SE). The first thing I see happen is the SE sits down or remains seated for the remainder of the presentation. WHY?
Do this instead: Plan your presentation with two people. Next, get up on your feet and stay there! Gain “control” of the audience and have your partner do white board or flip chart entries outlining the most important parts of the presentation.
I have sat through my share of demos and even given quite a few. What I gained from all this experience is what I want to pass on to you. It is a very simple three-step rule when it comes to presentations or demos.
- Tell the audience what you are going to show them
- Show them
- Tell them what you just showed them
Read it again just to make sure you understand. Sounds pretty simple, right? It is. By doing these three things, it reinforces what you want the audience to come away with. Here is where your presentation partner can write what your are going to show on the white board so it remains there during your demo.
Next, I think we have all seen a presentation or demo quickly start into the first two slides of the corporate background, which in reality no one cares about except you. If the point you need to get across is on slide 20 of 34, there really is little chance the audience is going to make it that far, even if you have the product they want.
Alter your strategy: Instead of making a presentation to a cross-section of corporate attendees, do your homework and meet with those that will attend and learn what issues are important to them. Tailor the presentation or demo to address the majority’s issues and concerns. Now you have a message that you can direct (by name) to their pain, even if that person at the last minute doesn’t attend.
If your presentation goes like others, new people will show up that you’ve never met.Â By all means introduce yourself to them as a team and find out who they are. Chances are good some of these new people are the real decision makers. You need to get their buy-in before you start the presentation. If not, you run a high risk of being stopped because you are not talking about the real key issues.
Do this instead: Ahead of the meeting, prepare a quick one-page handout just for these people. Handing them the agenda, say something like this: “Hi John, since we haven’t met, I wanted you to confirm that our presentation will address your most important issues. Is there anything we need to address that you don’t see here?” If these new people ARE the real decision makers, then throw your presentation away and address the issues they have confirmed and show only the capabilities and benefits that address what you have just been told.
Someone always asks, “Can your software can do X, Y or Z?” You want to avoid this if your solution is a complex solution. The audience is going to get very woozy quickly. This is because it is new to them. Showing the capability may mean moving through many screens.
Use this approach: If possible, draw it on the board or explain it will be shown later. It you must flip back to show it, have your partner redirect attention away from you.
Lastly, you will always have someone in the room that will be the competition’s best friend. You need to find who they are quickly. They usually are the ones raising the most questions and trying to take you down the “rat hole.” They will also try everything they can to throw your presentation off track.
Counter with this: Meet the opposition head-on. Embrace the question(s) and ask the entire audience how big an issue it is. Let the players face off, not you. Try to put the pressure back on the asking party. As you wind down the demo, ask the room, “Are any issues with what they have seen so far? No? are there any minor concerns?” This gives on last opportunity to face you and the opportunity to squash those concerns.
Just remember to keep your cool. Everyone makes mistakes and yes, everyone sometimes has crashes. Show the professional salesperson you are, pick yourself up, and move forward!
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