7 Points in persuasive group presentations

Brian is more than nervous, this is a big deal! Actually the biggest deal to date for the financial advisor. He paces and tries to think of what and how he should present his solution to the Board of Directors.

Now Brian has done public speaking and presentations before. He is calm and confident in front of a group and does some type of presentation almost weekly.

The challenge for Brian is how you persuade a group of wealth business people to put their millions in your care! Plus you have several competitors vying for the same business.

Now you may not be making this type of presentation, yet working with groups is something every professional could be and should be using. How do you make the most of the opportunity?

Here are 7 quick tips to keep in mind when preparing to persuade a group……..

If you can master these 7 points, your presentations will be bringing you a great return.

1. The first key is what is the real purpose of this presentation. Many times the preparation is all about information and telling the group about your offer.

A quick story: Joe is asked to present to the executive group of a Fortune 1000 company. There are 5 other vendors presenting that same day. As Joe sits in the waiting room with the other vendors he sees charts, power points, teams of 2-4 people and feels a bit intimidated by what he sees. After all he is alone and just has a brief case, no power point or charts. Ending up being the last to present makes for a long wait and finally around 3pm he gets his chance. He enters the board room and greets 5 bleary eyed executives. They ask him what equipment he needs, where he wants the projector etc.

“No, I just want to talk with you understand what you really want to have happen here. Is it alright if I ask you some questions?” as Joe takes out a yellow pad and pen. The executives visibly show relief and quickly open up to Joe’s questions.

Results; Joe not only gets the original piece of business, he uncovers several other needs and gets it all!

So the point is this, it is usually not about your product or proposal or puffing how great you and your solution is! It is about what the group wants and understands. It is about addressing the group’s perception and providing a genuine interest in their objectives.

So, it is not about you, it is about them and what they perceive as needed.

2. The second is the “group think” concept. Persuasion experts such as Dr. Hogan indicate it is easier to persuade a group than it is one or two people!

Call it “group think”, “mob rule” or “cultic intelligence”; if you can get the key players in a group on your side you have the group. The rest will follow the leader, many times at an unconscious level.

Here is where knowing who the people are and who influences who. It may not always be the CEO or President! Rather who has the most influence with that key person and the rest of the group!

A caution here, if one plays up to the “chief” too much, both the chief and the group will read it for what it is and shut you down. That’s why focusing on influencers is a covert way to influence the chief gets the entire group with you. (Covert means hidden from sight, not negative)

3. Third is understanding the “behavior profile” or being able to read this in each of the group members. We often use the DISC to help others identify various behaviors which give insight into how each member communicates and makes decisions. Trust me, each member is very different if it is an effective board.

A high “D” does not want details and does not want to be told! While the high “C” wants every detail to minutia before they begin the decision process. The high “S” is concerned about everyone else and tends to naturally distrust new ideas. Thus the high “I” wants to take over the meeting and influence everyone else.

Do see what will happen if you come into a meeting spouting all the facts and figures from your accounting department and have a room full of high “D” types?

Do your home work and learn to read the behavior signs!

4. A fourth tactic is the “common enemy” approach. This needs to be subtle and covert or you’ll turn the majority off. This is very powerful in “group think” as it can unite advisories into a common cause.

Some examples are how Hitler used the Jews as the enemy, the Northern states demonized the South in the Civil War, the far left demonizes President Bush in today’s political arena. These create a common enemy in the groups mind and they come together despite their differences.

If you can find a common enemy the group buys into and your solution takes on this enemy, you have a powerful emotional force working for you.

Some common enemies might be the IRS, government, competition, productivity or even time. Here again, this is not about you, it’s about them!

5. The fifth tool is perhaps the most powerful and yet can be the most challenging. The “Persuasive Story” is far more than a simple story; it takes all the previous 4 elements and combines them into a purposeful story that covertly engages the group emotionally!

This can be humors, thoughtful or even depressing story, but it has a specific purpose in how it persuades. The individuals can relate to the character in the story, relate to the challenge the character experiences and see how the characters solution to overcome the challenge fits your solution.

Yep, this is going to take practice and far more input than this article. If you examine top paid speakers you will find them utilizing the persuasive story throughout their presentations. I might suggest reviewing some of our past articles on the subject.

6. Coming up number six is the understanding and use of Proxemics. That is the study and use of space and items within a room. How a room is set up and used can dramatically affect how a group responds to a presenter.

Believe me, I have experienced this in very negative ways. I took it upon myself to alter the room for some very specific group exercises in a training program. In the past there was never a problem and the group came together very quickly. But, I had altered the proxemics and ended up with a lynch mob, me being lynched. Trying to recover from this was like climbing Mt. Everest in sandals, shorts and using a fingernail clipper. Believe me, I became very aware of the dynamics in a room setup.

This also is going take more than this article to cover. The key is, organize the room so you can control the group’s motions and observe key players reactions and interactions during the presentation. That way you can alter your presentation or the room dynamic as needed.

7. Number 7 is one concept of Proxemics you generally can control. That is your stage position. Dr. Hogan has done several studies on this with the same outcome.

The basis is that people tend to like others better when they are to their right side and viewed from the right eye. When you are on “stage” and able to move you can use this to your benefit. Pick out 3 spots on the stage; one on your left side, center stage and your right side. Any negative or bad news is given on your right side (audience left), neutral or statistical information is done center stage and the good news, solutions etc are given on your left (audience right). Covertly the audience picks up the negative even more intently while the solution and you are liked even more. Try it, statistically this has proven to have a measurable effect.

If you invest the time to plan and implement these 7 concepts into your board room presentation it will give you an edge over the competition. Believe me, this comes from the professionals that get $50,000 a speech and are asked back again!

For more on this and other persuasion concepts check out our web sites at www.BusArc.com www.HGoergerAssoc.com www.TheSellingGap.com

Till next week, keep pushing the envelop!

Harlan Goerger

© Harlan Goerger, 1-08

Author's Bio: 

Harlan's 25 years in business and training keep him looking for more new ideas and ways to improve the world. His new book "The Selling Gap" provides new concepts to help todays pro salespeople be even better. Contat him at Harlan@busarc.com or check out the web sites at www.busarc.com or www.thesellinggap.com