In my many years as a speaking and presentation coach I have trained many executives and entrepreneurs that need to “pitch” as part of their jobs or businesses. Invariably, I would see the same mistakes over and over again which would make my job as the “coach” that much easier. Similar, to public speaking there is something about doing a “pitch” that makes the person doing it want to make the following disastrous mistakes. Invariably the presenter makes the presentation about himself or herself. They are scripted. They memorize. It is a precooked preplanned “sales presentation.” They are “selling” to the customer. They bore the customer and are not listening to the customer’s needs.
About a year ago I went car shopping with my daughter, twenty three at the time. We had done the research and we knew exactly what car we wanted. Better yet, we were literally ready to buy if the price was right and we could get the monthly payment to where she could pay for it on her own. We were handed off to an obviously brand new your salesperson about the same age as my daughter. Without finding out our needs or goals she went into a memorized script about the car that we had already decided to buy! When I explained to her several times that all we wanted to do was speak to the finance man and get the real numbers she continued with her sales pitch completely oblivious to why we were there. Unable to get to the finance person without wasting more time we politely left, went to another dealership, and bought the car there.
While an extreme example and understandable due to the young woman’s age and obvious inexperience I see similar examples every day from experienced business executives and entrepreneurs! The presenters turn into what I like to call “presentation robots.” The minute the presentation starts the presenter’s voice changes, their posture changes, and their body language changes all in an effort to become what they think a great “presenter” should be. I see this same phenomenon with every “public speaking” client I have ever worked with. The speaker gets up and becomes a “public speaking robot” as though they were Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address. So the enemy of great presentations and great speaking is the concept that the person is going to give a “presentation” or a “speech.”
So how should the presenter approach the situation? First, by learning to have a completely different mental mindset. In order to be persuasive the presenter should understand that he or she is engaging in a dialogue with the customer. There is no script. There is no memorization. The presenter needs to really understand that the conversation is all about the customer and the customer’s needs. The presenter becomes aware of feedback from the customer. The presenter tries to actually build a relationship with the customer. The presenter talks about the customer and not himself or herself. Most importantly the presenter listens to the customer. The presenter focuses on how their product, service, or investment will directly benefit the customer. Follow these basic concepts and you will be amazed at how effective your presentations will be going forward.
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