When presenting ideas, every word you say takes decision makers closer to accepting those ideas or pushes them farther away. Do your presentation include the following statements? If so, it’s time to revise content and approach.
1. “So, how’s everybody doing today?” Open with that namby-pamby question, and decision makers will begin to tune out, figuring they’re in for a rambling, lifeless presentation. Powerful pitches always push off the starting block with potent, attention- grabbing beginnings.
Get pleasantries and icebreakers out of the way when you first walk in the door. Then, when time comes to actually present, pause for a few seconds before saying anything. Lock eyes with your decision makers. Once you gain their full attention, deliver a strong start.
2. “You’re going to love this idea!” Sure, you want to be passionate and enthusiastic about your ideas. But kicking off by saying “You’re going to love this idea!” kick-starts skepticism. Decision makers will usually think, “Oh, yeah?” or “We’ll see about that.” You set yourself up as an easy target.
Instead, dive right into your idea and its solutions. Decision makers will soon decide whether your idea is worth their love and money.
3. “I poured my blood, sweat and tears into this idea.” Decision makers aren’t interested in your pain. They’re interested in their pain. They want to know how your idea will ease their pain. Solve their problem. Provide worry-free sleep. So forget your problems and show them your solutions.
As baseball pitcher Johnny Sain put it, “The world doesn’t want to hear about the labor pains. They just want to see the baby.“
4. I’m glad you want to go with the idea, but let me finish.” No! For goodness sakes, when you get nods of approval, quit talking and leave the room – pausing just long enough to tell decision makers when you’ll follow up with details and timelines.
Through the years, I’ve watched many creative people keep droning on, even with go-aheads in their pockets. Before you know it, people are asking questions and having doubts. And it’s soon back to square one.
Once you’ve sold something, don’t buy it back. If they say yes, say thank you and goodbye.
[Note: A version of this content first appeared in an article written by Sam Harrison for Fast Company. ©harrison2017]