I’m hosting 20 persuasive final presentations next week as my MBA students get ready to persuade their audience (and within 5-minutes) to say ‘yes.’ But how do we get our time-pressed, distracted audience to say ‘yes?’ This post offers three simple business communication tips so compelling, your audience might hand over their time (or money) quicker than you’d expect.
Tip One: Polish and compress your slides
Many say we don’t need slides to present well, and I can see their point. But if we make our slides crisp, compelling, and something to interact with as we present, we come across as more polished, prepared, and more convincing, too. For optimum results, I suggest making your slides:
- Persuasive sounding vs. informative. Your opening slide title might instruct your audience what you want them to do. E.G. Why we must present well to lead well. Your slide titles might contain an active verb, too. E.G. Understand the power of presenting. Take time to practice. Hire a Coach. Observe great presenters, etc.
- Short and compelling vs. long and dreary. For a five minute presentation, cap things around five slides. (You can provide an appendix at the end to flesh out any core points.) Strive for 50-50 text with visuals. Use a rolling agenda to help us follow and interesting slide titles, too.
- Colorful and bold vs. sad and dull. Your corporate template may tempt you because you save time. But often these templates look stale and sad vs. uplifting and persuasive. Why use them? Make your own via Power Point using brighter colors and sleeker designs or choose more modern options including Canva. You can also outsource your slide design via services like Fiverr.
Tip Two: Approach your presentation like a reporter
Ensure in your opening sentences you’ve told us a few compelling (but vital) elements including what you want us to do, when, where, how, why, and why now?
The ‘why now?’ question adds a helpful and refreshing element of urgency. If we don’t say ‘yes’ now, what happens? (Said differently: What’s at stake if we say ‘no,’ vs. ‘yes’? Whatever comes to you ought to rest in your opening sentences.) I find this journalistic approach ensures all bottom-line information sits up top and your relieved audience doesn’t wonder what you want them to do.
This idea goes against how many presenters approach persuasive presentations. (Most want to save the ask until the end.) But if we watch even a few episodes of Shark Tank, we can see, the more effective persuasive presenters state that ask of their audience within the opening minute and then repeat that ask (with more conviction) at the end.
Tip Three: Appeal to our hearts and minds
If you think of any big move you’ve made—a home purchase, a new job, a big move, a person to share your life with—you decided using your mind and your heart. Therefore, persuade your audience using equal blend of logic with emotion (their sense of hope, pride, fear, joy, greed, vanity, etc.) for a more persuasive pitch.
Inserting logical appeal seems easy; use data, studies, graphs, and tables. I write more on logical appeal here. Some examples of effective emotional appeal I’ve seen follow:
- Employ story. Use a compelling story to show vs. tell us what’s at stake. If you want your audience to give the green light on extra personnel in your factory to cover the busy season ahead, profile someone who suffered without that back up. (Show the numbers of potential lost profits, too.)
- Humanize a problem you can solve through specific, detailed examples. Often we ask our audience to buy our service or product without showing how life changes after. Without examples, a persuasive presenter comes across as vague and misses an op to appeal to us emotionally.
- Use powerful photography. If you want us to consider using protective head wear, show a street crowd scene and tell us the number in that crowd equals the number of people who died last year from head injuries. Ask us to pause and absorb the picture, too.
- Appeal to our hopes for a better future, for joy. We can appeal to negative emotions like fear of losing our market share or potential loss of profits. We can appeal also to positive emotions like joy and hope. To get there, open up. Tell us why this idea feels vital to you—what’s at stake for you, personally, if the audience doesn’t say ‘yes’? Start there—and the inevitable emotion in your voice and from your body language will take your pitch to the next level.
With these three easy tips, your next persuasive presentation can only become more compelling—and your audience will resist less. For more tips on lean and effective presenting, read here.