By Spencer Waldron, Regional Manager, Prezi
For many decades, people have delivered inspiring linear presentations from ceremonial podiums and famous stages around the world to help their audiences feel empowered or see things in a new way – think of TED for many recent examples. This style of delivery has crossed into the workplace, but without the same degree of success.
In today’s world of rapidly decreasing attention spans and demanding mobile devices, a typical business presentation is almost expected to fall flat.
But all is not doom and gloom. With a quick shift in approach, presenters can turn their presentations into dialogues, making them interactive and interesting enough to hold their audience’s attention. By changing the structure of the presentation and by asking the audience to participate in the conversation, they’re more alert and remain engaged with the material.
Engagement is the first step towards conversion
15 years ago, if you were working in marketing, it made sense that you'd give a potential customer the traditional top-down presentation as it used to be difficult for them to do much research before you met.
Today, the potential client is the holder of the information and by the time you are lucky enough to be sat in front of them, they're going to know a lot about you and your company, simply from looking at your website and social media channels.
What they'll probably have is a few gaps in the information which they need you to fill. What they won't want is for you to enter that room, open your laptop and talk at them non-stop. It just doesn't cut it any more to give that standard 20-minute, top-down presentation where you take them through your company, what you do, and why you're so good. Plus, you’d struggle to find anyone who won’t give an inward shudder when they see yet another PowerPoint presentation with bullet points and lots of text. If this is still the way your sales team works, then you've got a recipe for disaster and lost revenue.
In our connected world, it’s imperative that you focus on being your prospect’s ally and partner rather than treating them as a short-term goal for your benefit. Anyone can be told directly what they need and how to get it, but by working together and using dialogue to come to these conclusions, you can build the trust and rapport that’s central to identifying a winning solution.
Therefore you need to implement conversational presenting. Go into that meeting and say: “Thanks for giving me 20 minutes of your time, how can we best use it?” Then start having a natural conversation and ‘present’ only when and what's relevant.
It's a subtle shift from the presentation controlling the conversation to the conversation controlling the presentation.
How to create a conversational presentation
There are several tools available that allow you to build just one big presentation that has all the things that you would normally need to cover in a meeting. Then when you get to the meeting, instead of presenting your whole presentation – regardless of whether they know the information or not – you just have a conversation with them, and focus in only on the relevant content.
If you build this type of conversational presentation, then you only have to build it once, and you simply present a different version of it to each person that you meet. You can add and edit as time goes on, but it removes the need to spend a lot of time creating a new presentation each time you go to meet somebody.
From lead to revenue
Pitches are at their best and most effective when there’s room for exploration and discovery based on the prospect’s needs and pace, not yours.
A conversational approach to content is highly beneficial at all points in the marketing and sales processes. Trust is built, dialogue is genuine, and participants are able to arrive at a solution quickly and naturally. The ability to get to the crux of a customer’s interests each and every time you communicate with them creates a consistently relevant and engaging experience. And those are the types of experiences that lead to both purchases and consistently happy customers.