Sometimes I feel there’s nothing more torturous than sitting through a dull presentation, where the presenter is simply regurgitating volumes of text and figures displayed on countless numbers of slides; delivering every bit of it in a ‘deathly’ monotonous voice…
Though some of us have developed the capacity to sit through such ‘brain melting’ experiences, pretending to be alert and enthusiastic, many in the audience prefer to be distracted by their phones – we either keep ourselves busy by sending text messages, checking emails and social media updates, or by playing Sudoku or Candy Crush (now don’t forget to turn off the sound).
And of course, for some (as we witness on a regular basis) – such presentations could very well present for an opportune time to catch up on some sleep!
Now, how much do you think the audience will capture from what the presenter is essentially reading out from the slide deck, containing over 15 to 20 slides?
I highly doubt if any message is being received at all, let alone convincing your prospects if this happens to be a ‘sales pitch’ for your new product.
Whether you’re lecturing to a group of students in a classroom, delivering your sales pitch to prospects in the meeting room, launching your new line of products, or giving a Ted Talk to hundreds of people in an auditorium - a presentation is only termed successful if it carries the ability to educate, inspire, entertain and fuel curiosity amongst the audience!
And in any presentation, besides the confidence you exude through your body language, the tone of your voice, your hand gestures and eye contact, much of its success depends on the way you’ve structured or written your messages (slides) to communicate with the audience – in other words, your Copywriting skills.
Today we bring you 5 such copywriting insights to help you create and deliver compelling presentations:
1. Base Your Messages on BENEFITS Rather Than Features
For instance, if your presentation is about your new product or service, you should be talking about what it can do for the prospects or the buyer and not dwell on the mechanics of how the product functions.
It is important to value the limited time you have with your audience. Whether you’re speaking to a small gathering at the office, or presenting a key note speech at huge conferences; what is it that you want them to do, feel or attain by the end of the presentation?
Now if you answer that question with, “The audience will learn about 17 new features of our brand new product”, then there’s a high chance for people to doze off during your presentation. But if you say, “They will learn about the new tool we’ll be launching and how that will cut their work time in half; drastically increasing their productivity and freeing them to fulfill other objectives concerning career and personal growth” – Then it will make for an interesting and compelling presentation.
It's also important to understand that presentations shouldn’t feel like a short university course cramped into a 30 minute timeline - where there are 20 slides with each having 5 different points loaded with features and stats…
Instead, if the audience can leave with even one or two powerful takeaways (benefits), which they can remember and use in their professional or personal lives, then consider the job well done.
2. Every Presentation Is A PITCH
Let’s be clear – you could have easily delivered your message via emails, or published it via any media if you wanted your content to reach out, but you’re standing in front of people and presenting it yourself because to its core, it's a Pitch!
Or else, there’s absolutely no point in making the presentation. A Pitch however doesn’t necessarily mean that you're selling something in exchange for money – you could be selling the adoption of a new concept or idea, inspiring a new wave of thought or a change in behaviour pattern or convincing the power of a new approach.
Just like any good author or copywriter who is clear on what he/she is trying to sell, it's important to present your case in a logical manner, along with persuading the audience by providing evidence and examples of those who’ve already benefitted from ‘buying’ into your idea or product.
A presenter should be clear whether he/she is selling a tool, an idea, an approach or a product. Do not try to sell too much stuff at once, it will only confuse your audience who will walk away with an unpleasant experience.
3. The ‘CLIFFHANGER’
Have you realised how impossible it is to put down a book written by authors like Stephen King, or consider the book like The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown?
Or take the TV soaps which keep us glued to the screen until the end of commercial breaks, to find out who knocked on the door at such a late hour. We keep flicking the pages or sit on the edge of our seats because we find these plots extremely irresistible – Here the author has made clever use of ‘Cliffhangers’ in his/her writing to leave us ‘hanging’ for more…
Cliffhangers generate a sense of ‘urgency’ within us, and the need to want for more. While irresistible ‘Headlines’ can also be considered as ‘external’ cliffhangers, it has the adverse effect if the headlines lure the readers into a post/presentation with shallow, mediocre writing, which is just a cacophony of unstructured thoughts and boring bullet points.
Mastery comes when you’re able to populate your content/body with ‘Internal Cliffhangers’. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to instill pure suspense as cleverly done by authors like Dan Brown – You can work your way through by generating CURIOSITY, which will keep your audience interested.
Or take the CHALLENGE route, where you make a bold claim and keep them glued as they will be dying to figure out how you can pull it off. Another cliffhanger is obviously HUMOUR. When you have your audience in stitches with your jokes, they're definitely going to feel connected and will want more of it.
4. Mental Imagery
Mental Imagery is a crucial arsenal for writers and professional communicators. Whenever a writer wants its readers to imagine something that sticks to their memory, he/she uses visual Metaphor.
A good metaphor is highly effective as it instills a mental image that cleverly resembles or communicates the idea being imparted - thus making it more memorable. You can tell people the qualities of an expert salesperson; but nothing quite implants the idea when you say, “An expert salesperson is the one who sells ice to an Eskimo living in an igloo”.
Such visual metaphors are generally used by writers, but for presenters if you’d like your audience to create a lasting mental picture in their minds – you simply show them images!
Therefore, if you’d like people to remember your presentation, you use more images and videos and less numbers and texts. As you go about your talk, you can deliberately show pictures which sticks as a memorable mental image in their minds, albeit it should coincide with and compliment your delivery.
It's important the images used are authentic and real – you don’t want to look artificial and phony by sticking up images you downloaded from stock photography. The images don't need to be professional looking – It's much more memorable and trustworthy, if you put up authentic images of actual customers, real employees or users.
5. Who’s Your AUDIENCE?
Just like any good copywriter or an author of a book, with any presentations, it's also important to understand and know where your audience is coming from.
Many corporate bigwigs have their standard template for decks - that not only look into specific ‘legal’ and ‘branding’ essentials, but also run down how the presentation should be structured, mapping out all the talking points – essentially working as a ‘quick fix’ to fill-in and create a presentation…
The problem with such presentations is that – they all sound like the same and don’t take into account the feelings, needs and aspirations of the ‘specific audience’ in front of them – turning it into an ‘excruciatingly’ boring lecture.
Say you’re giving a presentation on ‘Content Marketing’ to a group of high school students, would you be delving into the nitty-gritty and touting on the new Conversion Optimization Techniques or advanced SEO practices? I guess not – you might leave that for a much more professional crowd. The young students may be intrigued by the basics surrounding Content Marketing.
The point here is, a presenter should not expect the audience to come to him/her. They should be able to meet them where they are – i.e. understand who’s sitting in front of you, strike a conversation, ask questions and get into their heads to gauge their thoughts and expectations – Only then you can craft a compelling presentation that will keep them hanging on to every word you say.
Presentation skills can vary from person to person and for some of us, just the mere thought of it makes us cringe with nervousness. However, if you can prepare your content with the audience in your mind, use appropriate imagery and cliffhangers and think like a good ‘copywriter’, you may be able to woo your audience with a compelling presentation!
If you'd like further assistance or would like to discuss anything covered today, we'd love to hear from you.
Call Andy Fox (me) on (03) 5249 5570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Website is www.element7digital.com.au