Don’t Waterboard Your Audience

Posted - December 8, 2017

Have you been here? About one third of the way through your pitch, you look around the room and your audience is drowning in the flood of your words. You can tell you’ve lost them long before you’ve even gotten to the point. They are doodling, looking out the window, or flipping through the pages of your handouts. They are not listening to you and your message is dead on arrival.

It could be that you are saying too much. Your audience cannot keep up. There is a downpour of information, and they don’t see how the pieces fit together.

Take a Test – If you have experienced this dead-eyed audience, or even suspect it, I have an exercise you can try.  Get together with an acquaintance who doesn’t know too much about your business. Ask if he will help you out by listening to your pitch and answering the following questions. Then, tell him your elevator pitch. Keep it to about one minute. Then ask him these 3 questions:

  • What does your company do?
  • How can your company make life better for its clients?
  • How would a potential client take the next step to purchase?

Your Test Results – If your acquaintance cannot answer those three questions clearly and precisely, it could be that you have not honed your sales message down to exactly what you do, your benefits, and how to “place an order.” You may be communicating too much ancillary information at the expense of the vital stuff. This lack of targeted focus on your part is probably the culprit that is losing your audience to daydreams and doodles during presentations.

Prepping to Retake the Test – Let me show you how you can change your audience’s perspective by employing a tool called a storyboard. The storyboard is a process that will help you organize the points of your sales message, allowing you to intensely focus your points so you don’t drown them in too much information. A clear, concise message will compel your audience to conform to your expectations because they will see that you understand their needs and can deliver a solution that solves a problem for them and ultimately makes a positive impact on their revenue.

The Formula – A good storyboard is made of of three main points. It begins with an introduction that tells your audience where you are going. It smoothly transitions from point to point, always reminding the audience where you are ultimately going. And where are you going? You are going to demonstrate how you can solve a problem for them. And, in conclusion, you will wrap up the points with a clear call to action that helps the audience fully understand the next step to take to buy your product or service. See the infographic below to help you visualize the storyboard process. 

Pass the Test with Higher Results – As you prepare for your next big sales presentation, take the time to test your elevator pitch with an acquaintance (or several). Get their feedback to ensure you know your messaging is refined enough that it can be reduced, and repeated by others who have only heard it once. If you don’t pass the elevator pitch test with a score of 100%, follow the storyboard formula so you can ace the next presentation.

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