Have you ever wanted to poke your own eyes out during someone’s speech?

Last night I attended a professional association meeting where I was asked to stay for the presentation since I’ll be speaking there myself this year. The talk was given by a sales rep for a hardware company. The speaker was a very friendly and warm guy trying to do the best that he could with what little he was given. I (being the only marketing coach in the room) on the other hand, was busy writing this blog in my head, trying to catalogue how I could make his speech more relevant to us, the audience. Here are some pointers I secretly wish had been handed to him about an hour before his speech:

Start talking about me and NOT your product

The first thing that the poor speaker launched into was a catalogue of the features and benefits of the machine he was selling. What about me, the audience member? What about talking about what I care about? Instead of the goods he was peddling, how about mentioning what pain it would solve?

Connect as a human

The one good thing about the speaker was the single slide of a guitar he showed to share the fact that he was a guitar player and that his nails weren’t long because of neglect. I could’ve used more stories about him and why he cared about what he was doing there that night.

Tell me stories

The big point of the sales pitch was to move the professionals in the room from their current system to this new one. Why not tell stories of other practices who did it and what results they’re enjoying? How about a few video testimonials with real life characters to add dimension to the pitch presentation?

Get some interaction going

The lecture style speaking is so over, it belongs in a museum. All research shows that true learning is interactive. I really wish that the speaker could’ve engaged the audience by asking them about their stories related to the product or their experiences with respect to their pain around the product. At least it would’ve woken up some of the audience.

Don’t leave me hanging

While admirably sticking to his alloted hour, the speaker left the audience hanging because he didn’t offer a next step to connect or to sign on for more interaction. He simply started putting his projector away.

Throughout the hour, I debated whether I should share my thoughts with him. After all, he was a very intelligent, experienced rep doing what he knew how to do best. In the end, I decided to educate you, my own audience instead. If you are ever in any type of sales or presentation situation, I beg you to keep these points in mind.

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