Head in a Bucket

Head_in_a_BucketMoving up the business food chain requires understanding nuances, whether as an employee inside or salesperson from the outside.

Yet there are business practices that occur 1,000s of times and we botch them as if we have our head in a bucket.

Simple little things, but with huge impacts.

Like this one: What’s the difference between a meeting and a presentation?
The question is rarely asked and virtually never answered.

You’re probably thinking “why does it matter?” Stick with me here because at the bottom of this post there are 6 Tips for Persuasive Presentations. But before that, let’s explore this idea a little further.

The hair splitting between meeting and presentation becomes more important the more sophisticated your world becomes.

Those who don’t understand the difference between a meeting and a presentation inevitably:

1) Treat a presentation like a meeting and end up making awful presentations that fail miserably (sayonara sale)
2) Treat a meeting like a presentation and end up irritating participants and wasting their time (adiós funding)

Each meeting or presentation is a time-based opportunity.

You have the chance of working with others who can impact your business. Who knows when these individuals may be around, or in their current capacity, or frame of mind?

But if you’re holding a meeting when you should be making a presentation – or presenting when you should be holding a meeting – you’ve just wasted an opportunity.

What’s the Difference?

Although you can present information in a meeting, and meet for a presentation, as business practices they exist for different reasons and have different strategies for successful outcomes.

Unfortunately, the words meeting and presentation are not well defined in dictionaries for business. Most of us can’t make a clear distinction in practice either.

As a starting point of departure, here’s a couple of dictionary definitions:

Meeting: an assembly for a common purpose

Presentation: Something presented as a descriptive or persuasive account (as by a salesman of a product)

While these definitions don’t help much, they do provide a step towards defining meetings and presentations in a way that enables us to be more successful.

Meeting: Defined as a Business Practice

Business meetings are held for many reasons, i.e. to inform, delegate, gain consensus, train, etc. Their purpose differs.

Because meetings are held for many different reasons, they’re best defined as a business practice, rather than by their purpose.

Therefore, meetings are something that’s done, without always having the same purpose. And that’s what makes a meeting different from a presentation.

Presentation: Defined by its Business Purpose

A presentation has only one purpose; to make a sale.

Literally, to get your customer (audience) to take the action you want, such as:

  • Selecting your firm in a bid process
  • Funding your proposed project
  • Adding headcount or responsibilities

So, a presentation’s purpose is to make a sale. It’s single purpose is what makes a presentation qualitatively different from a meeting.

In a sale, you have to persuade the audience to select your offering – a much larger proposition that attending a meeting.

Persuasion requires making an emotional connection with the audience and supporting their choice with logic.

All sales decisions are based on emotion and justified with facts. The heart and head connection must be made for the sale to occur.

And that’s what a presentation does, it’s where we connect the audience’s head and heart to our desired outcome.

6 Tips for Persuasive Presentations

As a presentation’s purpose is to make a sale – and a sale requires persuading the audience – it’s obvious that a persuasive presentation is required. Towards that end, here are 6 tips to help:

#1 Design for an emotional appeal

Design your presentations intentionally for an emotional appeal.  This means adding a little excitement, a little warm and fuzzy, a scary thought to some old school thinking.

#2 Tell stories & show pictures

Stories and imagery are far more effective than volumes of text and numbers for connecting emotionally with your audience. This doesn’t mean littering your presentation with kittens and bunnies because they’re cute.

#3 Don’t wimp out on passion during the presentation

Make an emotional connection with your audience during the presentation. This means speaking with passion about the important stuff, which can’t be everything because you’ll wear out your audience and yourself. Please, no crocodile tears, ever.

#4 Engage your audience in a conversation

Get your audience asking you questions, which means you’ll have to prep them for that, and then be open to go where they want to. This is a far better way of connecting with them than guessing what they want. Remember, when they’re talking, they’re interested.

#5 Create presentations that can be navigated non-lineally

Design your presentations to enable your audience to direct you to the info they want. They’ll be far more engaged when they get their questions answered when they want to hear/see it.

#6 Help your audience envision your solution

Specifically, in your descriptions, stories and images create a mental picture of your offering solving the audience’s problems and making their life easier. Isn’t this what they’re buying?

Good luck and do the right thing at the right time.

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue IQ

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