Published first on Forbes.com
Whether it’s a sales presentation, a pitch to a board of directors, or simply getting buy-in from your team, we are all out there persuading. How successful we are comes down to one big thing. Convincing our audience that what we are proposing is good for them. Yep, it’s as basic as that. If we can convince our audience that things will be better, easier, less time-consuming, more lucrative, peace-of-mind inducing (a biggie), we will be successful. So how do we do it?
First, we have to paint the picture of where we are now. In that picture will be embedded a problem that needs solving or a goal that needs achieving. This must be a problem or goal that matters to our audience; one they see as urgent to do something about. (Note: if they do not already see this problem or goal as in need of urgent addressing, we must begin by proving its urgency.)
Once we all agree on the problem or goal and the necessity of addressing it, we provide our proposal. This is our solution for solving the problem or reaching our goal. We state our solution in clear compelling language. Language that an eight or 88 year old can easily understand. Language that evokes feelings of promise, possibility, and positivity.
Next you explain exactly how our proposal will be good for them. You do that by naming no less than three and no more than five benefits of our proposal. This is the payoff. This is what’s in it for them. These are clearly benefits – think what it will do for them not how you’ll do it. They don’t care how the sausage gets made, they only care how delicious it is, how easy and fast to cook, how nutritious, how inexpensive. (FIVE reasons!)
Now you’ve got to prove it. Your audience wasn’t born yesterday; they’ll be skeptical about these benefits. You must prove to them that you can deliver on your promises. This is the place, or one of them, where most presenters fall short. They spend all of their time talking about HOW the sausage gets made, which is completely uninteresting (and possibly off-putting) to the audience, and does nothing to prove the payoff. Waste of time.
Once you’ve proven you can deliver on your promise, you’re almost home. Simply review in a few sentences the agreed upon picture and its problem or goal, your proposal to solve that problem or achieve that goal, what the payoff will be for them and the proof that it will happen.
Now comes a critical component – asking for the sale, the approval, the buy-in. For the love of Pete, please do not end with, “Well, that’s all I’ve got.” BAD. VERY BAD. Instead, ask for questions and then ask for the sale, the approval, their buy-in. If you’ve followed this structure they’ll be eager to respond in the affirmative.
Use this format, also known as the bespeak Persuasive Presentation Format, and you’ll not only be heard, you’ll be successfully persuading.