Part 1: Getting Started

Could your work life this year involve asking for approval or support for a budget item, project or new  idea? Chances are the answer to that question is yes, of course! Then read on because taking a strategic approach to creating a persuasive presentation could be your key to success.

In a recent SF IABC workshop, Deb Doyle, president of Stage2 Marketing and founder of the Marketing Heroes™ Training Program, shared the expertise she’s developed with corporate clients.

First, Deb’s definition of successful presentations: They are delivered verbally, prepared in advance and compel someone to do something.

Next, she discussed what you need to know to create your own and how to get started.

Why? Start the process of presentation development at the end — with your goal in mind. Are you looking for approval, or support, or to run interference? For someone to champion you?

Tip: Go with something actionable. People are busy, bombarded with information and like taking action. Be clear about what you want them to do with the information you’re sharing or risk them deciding what to do with it themselves.

Who? Is this a meeting with your boss? Peers? Potential clients? Are you meeting with an individual or with a group?  Your audience will inform your tone, from buttoned-up to casual, and whether you’re going to be using slides. Think TED Talk, where the best speakers don’t use or just appear not to use slides at all.

What does your audience need to know in order to say yes?

Balance facts and data with emotional appeal. Consider the adage that “people choose with their hearts and justify with their heads.”

To fill this big bucket, make lists and prioritize. Include emotional benefits and consider the risks you’re asking your audience to assume.

Tip: Get a whiteboard or blank piece of paper and write down everything your audience is going to need to know. If you’re presenting to multiple audience segments, look for commonalities that emerge between what each needs to know. Use the lists to identify priority topics and level of detail. Balance facts and data with emotional appeal. Consider the adage that “people choose with their hearts and justify with their heads.” Investors risk money to support heartfelt projects, for example.

Equally important, what are their possible objections? What risks are you asking them to assume?

Once you have a sense of objections, you can then decide to address those upfront, leave them open but be ready to address when asked, or enlist a third party to provide credibility.

Tip: Have answers at the ready or know where to get the answers to the potential concerns you’ve identified, but don’t present everything. For example, prepare answers to all 10 questions you’ve come up with, but just present the top five.

Tip: Acknowledge and validate objections, which almost always have a basis in reality. Emphasize the benefits over the risks and present information that mitigates negative concerns, including fear of change.

Stay tuned: An upcoming part 2 article will round out the rest of the steps needed to complete a winning presentation.

Leslie Hanna is Instagram Manager, Communications, for the San Francisco chapter of IABC and Acting Director of Communications for BioAID and Orbis, medical device and technology startups.