PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

A workshop participant once told me about an outrageous statement he heard during a presentation to employees where he worked.

A partner in this large accounting firm was presenting the details of a new, high-fee service he wanted the employees to promote when they were with clients.  He finished his message by excitedly declaring how much more money the partners would make if many of the firm’s clients signed up for the service.

What a crazy thing to talk about to a group of employees!  I am sure it would have been music to the ears of a room full of partners, but employees were guaranteed to react negatively.  In fact, the gentleman I was talking to said he walked out of that presentation determined not to promote the service with his clients.

Of course, this is an example of an over-the-top failure to think about who you are talking to when making a benefit statement, but I have heard many less dramatic examples.

It is common, for example, to hear middle managers telling senior managers that they should approve an initiative because it will make life easier for the middle managers.  It may sound like a reasonable thing to say, but a benefit statement is really only persuasive if it describes a benefit to the person being persuaded.  In other words, the senior managers need to hear what the benefit is to them—or, at least to the company as a whole (i.e., their responsibility).

A car salesman wouldn’t say “Buy this car and I will make a big commission.”  In the same way you shouldn’t stress to audience members the benefit you will get if they do what you propose.  You tell them what benefit(s) they will receive if they buy in to your message.

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