Apple CEO Steve Jobs knows all about the Power of Persuasive Presentations! I recently delivered a program on “Executive Communications” to an International Chapter of the YPO (The Young President’s Organization). There are two major job responsibilities of a CEO. One is Chief Strategist. The other is Chief Story Teller.
Just look at Apple’s Steve Jobs, who excels at both. Considering that many people would rather die than speak in public, including CEO’s, this issue may come in handy the next time you are called upon to convince, persuade or educate an audience.
PS: Feel free to pass on the P’s to your comrades who share PowerPoint boredom and never wish to be boring again!
The 8 P’s of Persuasive Presentations:
1) Primacy: The Jerry Maguire Rule.
“You had me at Hello”. In 7 seconds we determine if we like you or not. Please tell me you are not fumbling with microphones, PowerPoint set-ups or long-winded “Thank you's.” When delivering a presentation, avoid the “Speaker Zone” until you are on cue or introduced. Then make a confident entrance to the podium and let your audience know you have something meaningful to say within 7 seconds! (Hints: a tall posture, warm smile, eye contact, and confidence before beginning your presentation are keys to Primacy Power on the Platform). Also, don’t forget the warm up! Waiting for presentations and meetings to begin is boring and time wasting! Use that time. Consider visual presentations played 15 minutes before your presentation linked to your theme, energizing music or activities such as "educational trivia questions" to warm up the audience. All big acts have a warm up. What’s yours?
Did you know that a simple technique like using the word “Because” in your communication increases cooperation from
60-94%? This is a critical nuance, detailed by social psychologist Ellen Langer, which is important to not only delivering persuasive presentations, but any request that you make of anyone. In presentations, first tell us the “Because” of your presentation. “Why should we listen? What’s in it for me?” This also works at home and the office. Have a request of an employee, spouse, and child? Next time, slip in the word “Because” and tell them why it’s important and see what happens. You’re 94% there!
Steve Jobs is an absolute master of this. During the YPO Training, I showed a condensed video clip of the Apple CEO’s
90 minute keynote on Why I-technology is so “remarkable” and “extraordinary.” Jobs demonstrates genuine passion for his products through words and non-verbal communication. Take a voice check! Record your voice and play it back. Here’s 1 quick vocal training activity: In coaching executives on presentations, I get them to read a children’s story out loud. You wouldn’t dare read “Goldilocks and the 3 Bears” in a deadpan voice to your little one would you? You would bore them to death! Please don’t bore your audiences either! Demonstrate Passion for your story with the vocal variety of a storyteller.
4) Point and Plot:
Before you begin your presentation, put pen to paper. My advice: “Think and Ink” the 1 big point of your presentation or don’t open your mouth! Ask yourself “What’s the 1 big point -- the one thing I want my audience to remember when they leave?”
PS: If you are struggling with inking that 1 big point, you probably don’t know it yourself, and your presentation will be missing its critical punch line. (Yes, your presentation can have more than 1 plot piece, but not punch lines).
5) Plop Plop Fizz Fizz...:
How would you finish that jingle? Yes, for those of you old enough to remember, that was the memorable line from the Alka Seltzer song over 20 years ago and we still remember it through the power of advertising and repetition. Remember that 1 major presentation point I told you that you needed? Well again, again, again... We need to hear it 6 times before we remember it. It’s also important to keep in mind that the rhythm of your words do matter! “I’ll be back,” “Show me the money,” “Yes we can!” come immediately to mind.
6) Props & Power Points:
Did you know that the use of visuals increases the retention of your audience by 40%? This is a principle I’ve seen completely missed in power-points with mind-numbing text used in the slides. In his keynote presentation, Steve Jobs held up the new Mac with his fingertips, slowly sliding it out of an envelope so the world would see it was light as a feather. Power Points and Props can greatly help you tell your story and increase your ability to show your audience what you mean. Use photographs, props, and videos for maximum emotional impact and get rid of text-heavy slides. CFO’s and accountants: Take it easy on the graphs and charts and try to limit their number. Finally, remember no more than 1 point per slide.
7) Participation: The Duncan Hines Cake Mix Model
You know Duncan Hines could have used powdered eggs in their cake mixes but chose not to because they understood the power of having us contribute to the recipe and create the end product. Let your audience add the egg and contribute input and ideas through facilitated exercises. Remember people support what they help create.
While you should not, except in rare situations, memorize any presentation, do practice your “opening” and “sticking the landing.” You’ll gain confidence if you’re opening remarks are strong and your ending is memorable. Consider that we tend to remember the beginning and end of everything (movies, speeches, and relationships). “You need to have them at hello and at goodbye.” So when the message matters and everyone in the room listening to you is being paid to be there, don’t you think they and you deserve more than “winging it?” I love when I help executives prepare for a major presentation where the moments and the message matter. I see them go from dreading delivering that presentation to genuine excitement about sharing their Passion, Purpose, and Point. So follow the 8P’s, consider working with a professional coach, and take your presentation power from Now to WOW!
Rosemary Rein, Ph.D is an International Speaker, Author and Business Presentations Coach. She is the Author of “Go Wild! Survival Skills for Business and Life” and “Blueprint for Success” with Dr. Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. Rosemary has presented “CEO Executive Communications Training” and “Now to WOW!™ Leadership” to the Distinguished YPO-Young President’s Organization. Dr Rein hosts “Go Wild! Go GREAT!™ Now to WOW™” Safaris around the world and at her Retreat Center in Costa Rica.