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5 Rules To Guarantee Engagement During Your Presentation


Guest articles > 5 Rules To Guarantee Engagement During Your Presentation


by: Tom Shallcross


1. Nail the "needs gathering" stage of the sale cycle

Proper engagement happens well before the opening line of your presentation. Almost all sales cycle involve some form of "need gathering" or "needs analysis." This is the call or meeting where you prequalify the prospect and more importantly, find out exactly what he needs. By taking your time and asking the right, though-provoking, open-ended questions, you can pinpoint the prospect's trouble and tailor your plan to fix these specific problems.

Asking the right questions not only gets the right answers but it also shows your genuine care for the prospect. By taking the time to learn about your prospect and what he wants, you build the necessary trust needed to have an engaged prospect. As the old saying goes, "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

2. Grab them at hello by being different

Studies shows that a first impression is created about 30 seconds into an encounter. In fact, there is ample research that supports the notion that the first impression is formed in the first 7 to 17 seconds itself. Knowing this, do you want to fumble through your note cards, or do you want to demand attention with a confident opening statement?

Do your currently start your presentation the same way as your competitors? How do you expect to differentiate yourself if you have the same boring, "thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today..." and the fumble through your papers to talk about your first boring slide.

You do not have to be overly bold, but do something at the beginning to gain their attention:

  • Ask an engaging question tailored to their situation. "What would you say if I told you your double-entry problem would can be a thing of the past?"
  • If you are speaking to a larger audience you use ask for a show of hands. "Show of hands, who thinks the current software system is perfect and doesn't need to be changed?"
  • Tell a quick and funny story. Humor is best used when poking fun of yourself so don't be bashful of telling a quick story showing you are human. If you are in a new city talk about how you got lost or how you are not accustomed to one of the city's "quirks," making you stick out like a sore thumb. Because your prospect can relate to these experiences, stories will naturally grab attention (as long as they are not drawn-out and boring).

3. Talk about personalized benefits, not your product's feature

Your prospect doesn't care that your product can do x, y and z. He only cares about improving his own personal situation. Therefore, your presentation should be about your prospect; not about how great your product is. If you are talking about my situation and showing ways on how I can be better off than I am today, I will listen to you.... Without a doubt.

When listing a feature make sure to piggyback it with a personalized benefit using the transition: "what this means for you..." Although the benefit might seem obvious, it's always best to spell it out. This makes it real for the customer and also ensures he understands exactly how his life will improve by doing business with you. Because everyone likes hearing how their life will improve, the stated benefit definitely grabs attention.

Example: "Our software system can track both the marketing AND accounting aspects of all your vendors. What this means for you Jim, is you won't have to waste your valuable time doing double entry of every vendor." You can take it one step further and ask him, "how would you used all that saved time?" to make the benefit (saved time) become quantified and tangible.

4. Attach your prospect to your product with demos and video testimonials

Simply put, people are more likely to believe in a product if they can see it work first-hand. If you are selling an actual product, have the customer hold it, try it out, taste it, whatever the case may be. Once a customer demos a product, it becomes his product. A subconscious ownership mentality takes place and the prospect's want increases when his other senses (besides hearing) are involved.

If you are selling a service, you can give them a quick demonstration on what the service would look like. Additionally, it's a good idea to show a quick 1-2 minute video of your service. This video should include key benefits and have real customers (just like your prospect) giving positive feedback on how your service has improved their situation.

A prospect's belief that, "this is a good product" from demoing it himself is infinity times more powerful than you telling them how great your product is. Additionally, hearing other happy customers talk about your excellent service is much more powerful than you "selling" your service.

5. Ask engaging questions opposed to lecturing

Probably the most important point to take away from this article is that your presentation cannot be a boring lecture. It sounds so simple, but so many professionals lecture their prospects. How do you like it when you get lectured? Considering the average attention span of an adult is roughly 10 minutes, how well do you think your pitch will stick when you're on minute 55 of your monologue? Add to the fact that most adults only remember about half of what they actually pay attention to, and how much of your differentiating material will even be remembered four days from now? To give yourself the best chance of being remembered, it is absolutely imperative to involve the audience with engaging questions. No matter how well-rehearsed and how much your prospect trusts you, you will lose their attention without engagement.

Engaging Questions:

"How do you feel about....."

"What other options have you seen? Are you considering these options? Why/why not?"

"Do you like (specific design, functionality, option) of product X?"

"What do you like best about our product ?" This is a personal favorite because you not only find out why they like your product (reinforcing what their hot button is) but you also get the prospect to sell himself. He will now answer the question by telling you the best benefit of your product. What can be more powerful than the prospect telling himself why he should buy from you? He obviously trusts the person talking when that person is himself.

Make a intense effort to utilize these five points with your next prospect and measure his engagement. Although some of these concepts might be differ from your current pitch, and outside your comfort zone, act with confidence through each step and you will see results. As the great Zig Ziglar stated, "people are persuaded more by the depth of your conviction than the height of your logic."


Tom Shallcross is a Sales Manager for Opal Enterprises and owner of NowServing Sales LLC. He has been featured in Remodeling Magazine and can be reached at

Contributor: Tom Shallcross

Published here on: 03-May-13

Classification: Sales


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