It’s a simple truth: presentations are always about sales. Whether selling the potential of your company to get funding, selling a product, or selling a new approach and educating to enlist supporters – the list goes on. If you’re giving a presentation, you’re selling something. In fact, I’m confident that you’d be hard pressed to think of a situation where you’d give a presentation and not be selling something.
When it comes to sales, you have to put things in context. Just providing the facts and allowing your audience to interpret them as they will is equivalent to giving someone a dictionary citation and expecting them to immediately see how it would translate into a top-selling novel. The narrative is the context – this is where you connect the dots and show them the path to success. Naturally, all dots lead to your company, your product, your value proposition, your vision – you get my point. Context counts.
Building a Presentation
No doubt if you’re in marketing, sales or the executive suite – you’ve certainly created and delivered your fair share of presentations. While they are an essential element of sharing your story and inciting action, all too often presentations are crafted as a matter of routine, where facts, stats, charts and diagrams are rounded up.
Presentations provide us with amazing opportunities to build a dialogue and gain brand traction. Delivering a presentation gives us a live audience and the perfect opportunity to ‘wow’ in person and make eye contact. This is the ideal stage to set your message and your value apart from everything else and leave a lasting impression.
So where to begin? The first step is to create a narrative. Yep – a story. One that needs to be told and captures the attention of your audience. Every story starts out with a title that teases the reader, piques their attention and gives them pause. They have to want to turn the page. In presentation terms, we call this a theme. Themes center on tipping points, change, opportunities, shifts – basically, a market driver. They are not built around your product, your team, your size, or your investors, but rather something bigger. Your theme is the binding fabric of your narrative. With this in place, weave in your proof points and you’ve got a presentation with staying power.
How to Build a Narrative
- Look outside. We all have a natural propensity to look inside our own walls when it comes to building a story. But what grabs attention is what’s outside your walls. Think about trends, what problems you solve, why your company exists, who you serve and why.
- Be relatable. Pieces of your narrative should sound familiar and have your audience nodding in agreement. They are there in the moment with you. Tackling issues, seeking solutions – you are building kinship. It’s what we call a human connection.
- Epiphany. Weave in the ‘aha’ factor. That turning point when the clouds break, the sun shines through and the answer is clear. That answer, of course, is what you are selling.
Sounds simple, right? It really is when you change up your approach to be guided by a narrative. Stories give context, personality and a shared purpose that can move the needle.