Sellers constantly ask me how to deliver sales presentations that separate them from the competition. Sometimes that separation can be accomplished with something as simple as fewer slides.
Working with a software team last week, an account representative told me that he was pitching for a piece of business against several other highly qualified vendors. Â “I never bring more than five slides,” he told me.
The prospect told him that the streamlined nature of his pitch was in stark contrast with his competition. “Thanks for keeping your presentation so short,” the decision-maker told him. “I appreciate not having to look at so many slides.”
He won the business. And while there were many reasons for the win, he separated himself from the competition by refusing the temptation to overwhelm the prospect with too many slides.
Sellers often try to separate themselves from the competition with increasingly complex attempts to distinguish their products and services. That often means more slides. Â But often we can separate ourselves by just executing the presentation in a way that makes life easier on the prospect.
User-friendly presentations send a wonderful message about what it’s going to be like to do business with you.Â That separates you.
We can learn about connecting with audiences from this month’s controversy over a proposed statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Â The commission overseeing the creation of a Washington D.C. memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recently called for revisions of a proposed statue of Dr. King.Â The panel said the statue looked “confrontational” and reflected a “genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries.” Â
In other words, they think it makes our greatest Civil Rights leader resemble Saddam Hussein.
The proposed statue is particularly ironic in light of Dr. King’s famous ability to connect with audiences. Â He was certainly one of our nation’s greatest and most moving speakers. Â Yet in the proposed statue, he is standing in a classic closed position. If we saw one of our clients standing like that in a workshop, we would urge them to open up and connect.
In fact, we’d urge them to assume a position more like the stance portrayed in the memorial statue of Dr. King displayed at the University of Texas at Austin as seen below. There Dr. King is shown in a more open stance, reaching out and connecting with an audience.
But that’s where the public speaking lesson ends.Â
Compare the Saddam Hussein statue below with the above statues.Â
I’m no art critic. And I’m certainly no political scientist. Â But it does look like Saddam, when he commissioned his statue, was trying to make himself look like the kind of leader that reaches out and connects with audiences.
“The only way I know to get a good show is to practice, sweat, rehearse, and worry.” Â Those are the words of Fred Astaire, the movie icon and dancing legend. Â His words could apply to public speaking as well. Â Nothing will help you become a better speaker than simply rehearsing over and over again. Rehearse enough and your presentations will seem as effortless as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in “Swing Time.”