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Two Next Level Presentation Techniques

Posted 5 years ago

Every professional will need to deliver a presentation at some point in their career. However some occupations are required to provide convincing and engaging presentations on a regular basis. Regardless of their regularity, we would all benefit from the occasional tip to improve our presentation techniques. Who’s better qualified than international speaker and sales presentation expert Patricia Fripp? This week, Patricia shares two very specific tips that can be successfully adopted by anyone.

Two Next Level Presentation Techniques

“Once your presentation is prepared, there’s still work to do before you deliver it to your prospects.”

Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

It’s surely a relief when you can click save on the final script of your sales presentation and receive a thumbs-up from the team. But you still have two important coats of polish to put on it before you take it into the field. Presentation Techniques #1: Building credibility with specificity One of my essential missions is to clean up my clients’ sloppy and non-specific language. This is critical when decisions are made at the highest level of an organization, and especially when your competition is tough. Some examples: Non-specific: “Our clients always increase sales or productivity.” Specific: “Of course, there are no guarantees. If you look to our last five major clients, however, they will tell you that within six months their productivity improved 37%. It would be safe to say that you can look forward to similar results.” The worst offender when it comes to non-specific language is the word stuff. Unless it is Thanksgiving and you are talking about what you are about to do to your turkey, delete it from your business conversations. This is actually a process that starts by eliminating it from your casual conversations. (I assure you that unless you become aware of how often you say it and become vigilant, you will not remove it.) Record some of your conversations and listen. Ask your co-workers or family members to let you know when it slips out of your mouth unconsciously. When you use the word stuff for high-price products, services, expertise, or technology, you are devaluing them. A secondary reason to avoid it is that many clients may not have English as their first language, and they may not get a clear picture of what you’re saying. Another word to avoid is thing. In spontaneous, unprepared conversation, we use it all the time. A sales presentation is thought about in advance, however, and speaking precisely gives you a competitive advantage. Consider these examples: Non-specific: “There are three things you will like about our product.” Specific: “There are three features you will like about our product.” Specific: “There are three benefits you will like about our product.” Specific: “There are three specific applications you will like about our product.” Other words and phrases to eliminate from your business conversations and presentations include sort of, kind of, bunches, tons, gobs, like, you know, you guys. You may be thinking, “But some of our younger clients speak this way,” so let me share a story. While working with a technology company to help them improve their sales and consulting conversations, we were working hard to improve the quality of their word choices. The salespeople knew that calling the executives at Goldman Sachs you guys was not appropriate, but the techies maintained that that’s how they communicate with each other. Here’s what I said: “There are better ways to connect emotionally with your clients than to model their bad behavior and sloppy language.” There is a major difference between being casual and being sloppy. If you believe you are the best in your industry, prove it through your language and demeanor. Apart from that, I have no opinion!

Presentation Techniques #2: Understanding fat and skinny words Some of your prospects will be from different parts of an organization, with different levels of technical understanding, goals, and responsibilities. If they are listening to you, they may be influencers, even if they are not economic buyers. Nothing turns an audience off faster than using fat words when they’re hungry for skinny ones, or vice versa. This concept of “levels of abstraction” was introduced to me by Dr. David Palmer, a Silicon Valley negotiations expert. Unless you can match your message to the expectations of your audience or talk at the same level at which they are listening, you won’t connect as well as you would like to. Here’s an exercise: At the top of a page, write the word “fat” and at the bottom, the word “skinny.” In the middle of the page, write the word “automobile.” Simple. Everybody knows what a car looks like. The question is what car? We all see a different car when we hear that word. Going up to the next level of abstraction or fatter and less specific, above the word car write that it is a “wheeled passenger vehicle,” then “surface transportation,” then “major force in the world’s economy,” then “technology.” The higher level of abstraction is making the word automobile fatter and fatter. These big ideas and abstractions are fat words. They may be great for conveying the big picture, inspiring ideas, and motivating people. However, they drive engineers and the chief financial officers crazy. Now, let’s make the word skinnier, more specific, and at a lower level of abstraction. Underneath the word car, write “sedan,” “Ford sedan,” “red, four-door, Ford sedan.” Eventually, you would be talking about a specific car with the VIN and license plate. Those are skinny words. They are essential for conveying instructions and solving technical problems. Once a sales team understands the automobile illustration, they learn to be more effective when evaluating each other by saying, “Your words are too fat,” or “These ideas aren’t skinny enough.” Upper management needs fat words and ideas. What will be the business outcome using your technology? How will it increase profits? A middle management team needs skinnier words and ideas. How are they going to manage to implement your technology? When you’ve made the sale and are dealing with the individuals who make the technology work, the words and phrases need to get really skinny. What do you do when you have the president, the chief information officer, and a department head all listening to your sales presentation? Introduce each idea from a higher level of abstraction for an overview. Then get more specific when you talk about the solution. If you start with the lowest, skinniest level of abstraction, those who do not understand as well will tune you out, and you will never get them back. This concept works both ways. If your prospect is speaking in language that is too fat, ask, “Can you help me understand specifically what you mean by that?” or “Can you give me a specific example of what happens?” With these questions, you are bringing the conversation to a skinnier level that you can understand and respond to more effectively.


Patricia Frippsales tips, CSP, CPAE has been teaching executives and engineers to speak more effectively since 1990. She is a Hall of Fame award-winning speaker, sales presentation skills trainer, and in-demand executive speech coach. Meetings and Conventions magazine named her “One of the 10 most electrifying speakers in North America.” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance wrote, “Patricia Fripp’s speaking skills training is one of the best ways to invest in you.” Through FrippVT her highly interactive virtual training platform she offers a shortcut to sales success for highly technical sales teams. Patricia is trusted by clients such as Microsoft, ADP, Visa, Genentech, Wounded Warrior Project, and the American Payroll Association. Contact Patricia Fripp: [email protected]]]>