I loved watching Sesame Street when I was a kid. It was an American TV show featuring Muppet-style puppets. Each episode had an important learning point for us kids, but we loved the show for its color, fun, and songs.

One of my favorite songs was the ABC song that ended. “Now I know my alphabet, next time you’ll sing with me”

Now this song always reminds me of the ABCD of performing. A really smart pneumonic to help you with the first few minutes of any presentation to get you off to a good start and give you plenty of confidence to carry on.

  • An advert
  • B-Benefits
  • C- Credibility
  • D-direction

Attention

“Since I’m not used to speaking in public…”

Hello, my name is Paul Archer…

“Uhm, okay, let’s get started then, okay?”

What do these three have in common? Yes, of course, they are bland, apathetic and terribly boring introduction entries.

Your first priority is to get the attention of your audience, especially if you are selling and presenting at the same time. We don’t have the luxury of time, so we need to grab their attention early.

Now it helps if you’ve circulated with the audience beforehand and done some homework with the people sitting across from you. This gives you some advice on the type of attention grabber to use.

I’m not saying you should tell a joke. Maybe you could make sure it’s a modest joke to show your humility and not embarrass anyone sitting down.

  • Share a date. You can get thousands of these from the internet and one might fit the bill.
  • Tell a story or metaphor that ties in with the main points.
  • Ask a search question.
  • A call to action
  • This day in history. Log on to the History Channel website and sign up for daily email service. It’s great and every day it gives you something that happened on this day in history. You may be able to link this.

Benefits

Once you have their attention, joke around with some of the main benefits or the biggest benefit they will get from listening and maybe taking action.

It may be obvious to you, but we have to think about our audience. WIFFM. What’s in there for me? Think about your shoes and share some benefits.

“What I’d like to do is give you some up-to-date advice that will help you decide your direction for the year ahead. This could give you a competitive advantage.”

Enough to intrigue, excite, and make people want to hear more.

Credibility
It is important to finish this part, if the audience has never met you before. Sometimes in more formal settings, the emcee will introduce you and help you develop your credibility.

However, in most business presentations, particularly sales pitches or “beauty shows,” you really have to build your credibility. Don’t overdo this part. Don’t fall into the trap of telling them everything about yourself, your history, your qualifications.

That’s the zzzzz time.
Instead, use a reassurance statement. This statement should include your name and your experience in both the client’s industry or sector and your experience in handling issues similar to those of your client.

“My name is Paul Archer, I’ve been working with salespeople around the world for almost 20 years helping them earn their bonuses. For the last two years I’ve been helping companies like yours get better closing rates on their key accounts. “

Direction
I love taking my three children on car trips. My wife and I have a bet on when the first one will ask, “Are we there yet, Dad?” Usually my wife wins. So she says, “Not yet Euan, we’ve just passed Winchester and will probably be at Nanas in half an hour.”

And they are happy for the next few miles.

Now someone gave me some brilliant advice the other week to help in this arduous endeavor. Keep telling them where you are and how long it takes to go.

“Hey guys, we just passed Stonehenge. Can you see it on your right? And we’ll be at Nanas in 20 minutes, in time for ice cream.”

Since that advice we have never looked back and you can use the same idea in your presentations.

Tell your audience where you are taking them. Give them a clear direction. It is not a schedule. These are for books. Presentations need signs to tell you where you’re going. At each intersection, the audience needs to remember where they came from and then where they are going to go next.

The best analogy is one of these home buying shows on television. My favorite is Phil and Kirsty doing “Location, Location, Location.” Just as they approach a commercial break, Kirsty will quickly recap the main points covered so far and a tease or two of what she’ll see after the break. Not only does this give you clear direction, but it entices you to come back after the break.

And when you come back from the break, Phil picks up the slack and reminds you of what they did before the break and then teases you further with the main benefits of the next 15 minutes.

Brilliant stuff and certainly worth repeating in your presentations.

So give directions and then constantly signal your way to the end. And as you get closer to the final sign that the end is in sight, summarize each of your key points, remember the power of three, three main points at most. Quick questions; Never end with a question and answer session because if there are no questions, you’ll come out like a wet squid.

Invite questions, welcome them, and then repeat your goal and purpose and end with a call to action.

With the end in sight:

  1. Sign that the end is in sight
  2. Summarize each of your key points
  3. Quick questions: don’t end in questions and answers
  4. Objective rest and general purpose
  5. Defined finishes – call to action

And now you know your ABC’s… and D’s. Next time you’ll sing with me…

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