I loved watching Sesame Street as a kid. It was an American television show featuring Muppet-style puppets. Each episode had some major learning points for us kids, but we loved the program for its colour, fun and songs.
One of my favourite songs was the ABC song that ended. “Now I Know My ABCs, Next Time You’ll Sing With Me”
Now this song always reminds me of ABCD presentations. A really smart mnemonic to help you with the first few minutes of any presentation to get it off to a good start and give you lots of confidence going forward.
A – Attention
B – Benefits
C – Credibility
D – Direction
“As I am not used to public speaking…”
“Hi, my name is Paul Archer…”
“Um, ok, shall we begin?”
What do these three have in common? Yes, of course, they are bland, listless and terribly unexciting presentation launchers.
Your first priority is to capture 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 in the first moments.
Now, it helps if you’ve gone around the audience beforehand and done some homework on the people sitting in front of you. This gives you some pointers as to what type of attention grabber to use.
I’m not saying you should tell a joke. Maybe you could make sure it’s just a suicide joke to show your humility and not embarrass anyone.
Share the offer. You can get thousands of them from the internet and one might fit the bill.
Tell a story or metaphor that connects to the main points.
Ask a search question.
Call to action
This day in history. Log in to the History Channel website and sign up for the email service daily. It’s great and every day it gives you something that happened on that day in history. Maybe you can link it.
Once you’ve got their attention, tease them with some of the main benefits or the main benefits they’ll get from listening and maybe betting action.
It may be obvious to you, but we have to think about our audience. WIIFM. What’s in it for me? Think in their shoes and share some of the benefits.
“I’d like to give you some real-time pointers to help you decide where to go next year. They could give you a competitive edge.”
Enough to engage, excite and make people want to listen more.
It is important to complete this section if the audience has never met you before. Sometimes, in a more formal setting, the Master of Ceremonies will introduce you and help build your credibility.
However, in most business presentations, especially sales events or “beauty shows,” you really need to establish your credibility. Don’t overdo it a bit. Don’t fall into the trap of telling them all about yourself, your history, and your qualifications.
Use an assurance statement instead. This statement should include your name and your experience in the customer’s industry or sector and your experience in solving similar problems as your customer.
“My name is Paul Archer and I’ve been working with salespeople around the world for almost 20 years helping them get their bonuses. For the last two years, I’ve been helping businesses like yours get better closing rates from their key accounts.” ”
I like to take my three children on road trips. My wife and I made a bet that she would be the first to ask “are we there yet dad?” My wife usually wins. So I reply “Not yet Euan, we’ve just passed Winchester and will probably be in Nanas in half an hour.”
And they are happy for the next few kilometres.
Now someone gave me a great tip last week to help with this challenging purpose. Tell them where you are and how long to drive.
“Hey guys, we just passed Stonehenge. See that on your right? And we’re at Nanas in 20 minutes, in time for ice cream.”
We’ve never looked back on this advice, and you can use the same idea in your presentations.
Tell your audience where you’re taking them. Give them clear direction. No agenda. These are for books. Presentations need pointers to tell you where you’re going. At each intersection, the audience needs to be reminded of where they came from and where they are going next.
The best analogy is one of those real estate buying shows on TV. My favourite is Phil and Kirsty doing “Location, Location, Location”. Just in time for the commercial break, Kirsty quickly recaps the main points we’ve covered so far and a tease or two of what you’ll see after the break. This not only gives you a clear direction but entices you to come back after a break.
And when you come back from the break, Phil takes over and reminds you of what they were doing before the break, then entices you to continue with the main benefits of the next 15 minutes.
Great stuff, definitely worth repeating in your presentations.
So give the direction and then keep pointing the way to the end. And as you approach the final signal that the end is in sight, summarize each of your key points, remembering the power of three – three main points at the most. Invite questions; never finish the questions and answers because if there are no questions you will leave like a wet octopus.
Challenge the questions, deal with them, then restate your goal and purpose and end with a call to action.
With the end in sight:
A signal that the end is in sight
Summarize each of your key points
Invite questions: it doesn’t stop at Q&A
Restate the goal and overall purpose
Definitive completion – call to action
And now you know your ABCs…and D. Next time you sing with me…