January 11, 2010

W2IFM – Stands for  What’s In It For Me.

We live in a world of information overload, there is just too much information being circulated and re-circulated for any one individual to take in. One of the strategies people have adopted to cope with this vast volume of information is to only listen to or read information which is relevant to them. In fact most people will only listen if the information and opinions being presented will actually be of used to them. Hence the question “What’s in it for me” (W2IFM).

Right at the start of the presentation you have to answer that question in an attention grabbing manner, otherwise nobody will listen. You then need to keep answering the question throughout the presentation, to keep people involved.

Presentations should not be about you.

Presentations should be about your audience.

There are far too many business presentations that spend far too much time talking about their company, their products and their services. Reeling off lots of facts about how large they are, how long they have been in  place, how much money they have made, etc etc, Most audiences don’t care, they are siting their think W2IFM, What’s In It For Me?  In a sales presentation stop talking about your products and services and start talking about how your products and services can be of benefit to your audience members.

Essentially, this is the same as the difference between a feature and a benefit., see article on FAB.  Lists of facts and features are essentially boring while proven benefits are engaging.

The only way you can tell you audience things that are of interest to them is to know you audience (See A for Audience), and put yourself in their shoes. Imagine going on a first date with someone who dominated the conversation and talked about themselves all night long. Would you really want to go on a second date with that person?

As you develop the presentation keep asking “so what?” , “why should they care about that” and “what’s in it for me”.


You the Audience

January 5, 2010

While much of this blog is about how you should behave when giving a presentation do not forget that the only reason you are there is because of the audience, who are listening to you.  Without an audience, there would be no presentation.

In planning your presentation, it is vital to consider what your audience wants, what they are interested in and why they are listening.  In giving the presentation, you can then make it personal to them.  Try using the words you and yours as often as you can.  Do not present in the third person, it makes it too remote.  You need to get your audience involved, the more involved the better.  Appeal to their emotions, their dreams and aspirations, appeal to their egos and to their wallets.

When you are developing your presentation, try to use the word you and yours 30 times in the first 5 minutes. Not only will the audience like the fact that your presentation is obviously about them, it will make you think about your audience more, as it is impossible to use the words “you” and “yours” 30 times without thinking about the audience.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever

Keeping your Audience Listening

January 5, 2010

Letting the audience get ahead of you is one of the most common ways of killing a good presentation.  Not letting the audience get ahead of you is one of the main tenets of a good presentation.

Once your audience know what you are going to say next, there is a strong tendency for them to switch off and start thinking about other things.  They will get bored waiting for you to say it and get on to the next point.

There are many ways for an audience can get ahead of you, if you let them.  One of the most common ways is when you put up a slide with several bullet points on it and start working your way down the list.  Before you are even through the first sentence describing the first bullet point, they will have read the slide.  If the bullets are self explanatory, then they are ahead of you.  They will have caught the gist of what you are going to say and then have to wait for you to say it.  While they are waiting, their mind will wander and you will have to work much harder to recapture their attention.

Using the line by line reveal facility in PowerPoint, will reduce the scale of the problem but still does not cure it. If you bring up the bullet point first and then start talking about it, you have still let the audience get ahead of you, and you will be telling them what is effectively “old news” as they have already read the headline.

This problem often occurs because presenters use the PowerPoint slides to remind themselves of what they have to say. This means that they display the bullet points before they say the words. Their audience is then bored by what they say, as they have already read the slide and know in advance what the presenter is going to talk about. It is compounded by the fact that, having just read the words themselves, the presenter will invariable use exactly the same phraseology in their speech. It is no wonder many people switch off and fall asleep because the presenter is constantly telling them things that they already know, because they have just read it on the slide.

If you have to use bullet points on a slide, bring the points up, one by one, after you have talked about the subject. That way the slide reinforces what you have just said and the audience will not get ahead of you.  Better still, rather than displaying the bullet points, keep those for your own personal cue cards, which you can refer to during your presentation to ensure you don’t forget anything, and use PowerPoint (or which ever software product you prefer) for what it was really designed for, a graphical presentation tool. Have slides with pictures, images, or graphics which conjure up strong mental images of the topic you are discussing, images that will stay with your audience long after your words are forgotten. See the sections on visual aids and graphics for alternative suggestions and approaches.

Of course, handing out printed copies of the whole presentation before the event is another classic way of allowing the audience to get ahead of you. Have you ever looked at the audience during the first key note speech at a conference? Most of them will still be scanning through the handouts working out which presentations they think will be worth listening to, not paying the slightest attention to what the key note speaker is saying.

Do not get me wrong; I am still a firm believer in the ‘tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them’ approach to presentations.  But this does not mean letting your audience get ahead of you.  To keep an audience listening, you need to build in some suspense and tension just like in a television drama or a play.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


January 5, 2010

Imagine how you would like your audience to think differently about your subject matter after you have finished.

People won’t change unless they feel positive. You need to make them feel comfortable with the change, and see it in a positive light

Connect with your audience, instead of think of your audience as a bunch of people you don’t know, think of them as a group of people that you really care about, people who you really want to feel good, think of them as people who want to enjoy your presentation, the more they enjoy it the more they will listen and the more they will remember.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


January 4, 2010

Undoubtedly, the most important part of any presentation is the audience.  After all, without them you would just be standing talking to yourself, which is one of the first signs of madness.

The more you know about your audience the better.

  • How many people are you expecting?
  • How senior are they?  Is there a mixture?
  • Is there a predominance of men or women?
  • Are they management or workers?
  • What are they interested in?
  • Why have they turned up?
  • What are their objectives?
  • What’s in it for them?

Think about what they want to hear, not what you have to tell.

Think about why they are listening, not why you are talking.

Are there any particular people in the audience who are more important to you than the others are?  If so, make sure you give them lots of eye contact; it makes a difference, particularly with a smallish (up to 50 people) audience.

Try to talk to as many of the audience as you can beforehand, if you have the opportunity.  That way you will have a better understanding of what they already know and what they are hoping to find out.

Certainly, if this is a sales presentation to a new prospect for your company, my recommendation is not to give a presentation at your first meeting.  Arrange a pre-presentation meeting with one or two key contacts so you can discover as much as possible about their situation, their people and their needs, before you present.  That way, you can tailor your presentation to suit them.  Make the presentation more personal to the audience so that they become more involved.

If you are forced into giving a presentation at your first meeting and your main contact invites a few other people to sit in, make sure you know who they are and do not rely on your first impressions.

However, probably the most important thing to remember about your audience is that they want you to succeed.  It is rare in business to business presentations for you to have a hostile audience.  At a minimum, they have invested their time in being there to listen to you, and they may have invested in the cost of getting to the venue etc.  Even if they have a grudge against you, the fact that they have come to listen means that they may be open to resolving that grudge and will be keen to hear what you have to say.  In these situations, it really pays to know your audience and their expectations.  Be honest with them and do not skirt round the issue; address it head on.  But at the same time, avoid an argument with any one member of the audience.  If you argue with one, you will be perceived as arguing with everyone, and your presentation will fail.  It is better to keep arguments until after the presentation when you can talk one on one with your detractor.

Your audience want you to give a truly inspired presentation; they do not want to be bored to sleep.  So from the very start, they should be on your side and this is your opportunity not to lose them.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever