When you ask a person to take a specific action, think of all the different factors that determine whether or not they say "yes." Their mood, their knowledge level, their impression of your personality -- all of these have an impact. It takes a lot more to persuade someone than just saying the right words.
That's why a successful business presentation must be engaging, memorable and persuasive -- all of which can be achieved using the following techniques.
1. Set the Mood
I attended Anthony Robbins' sales seminar last year. It was all about high energy. The lighting was bright, the music was powerful and high tempo, and the moment you entered the room, you felt an inescapable energy entering your body and pumping up your expectations. I was excited about the presentation before Robbins had even spoken a word.
Before your presentation begins, set the mood by creating an environment that puts your audience in a more receptive state. Consider incorporating comfortable seating, music appropriate for your presentation's tone and complementary lighting into your space.
Take some time to build a rapport with your audience. Shake hands, make small talk and learn some of your listeners' names. The more you can relate to them, the more receptive they'll be once you begin your pitch. You might even learn new information, which you can later refer to in your presentation.
2. Provide Literature
Not everyone has a perfect memory, but a message is harder to forget when it's written right in front of you. Professionally printed handouts can give your audience a lasting reminder of your message. They also help your audience focus more on you instead of scribbling down notes -- you've already done most of the work for them by providing notes yourself.
Be careful with your execution. I once attended a presentation where the speaker handed out a word-for-word transcript of their speech before they started speaking. It was nice to have a copy of the speech to review later, but the audience ended up spending the whole presentation looking down at their paper rather than at the person talking.
Remind the audience of your message's source by having your literature custom printed with your name or logo. This gives you the chance to gain brand exposure when your recipient shows the materials to friends, family and colleagues.
You should also leave enough blank space on your literature for each audience member to add their own personal notes. Encourage this by providing pens -- or even better, use pens branded with your logo or call to action that recipients can take home as gifts.
3. Keep It Engaging
When I talk about my own business to others, I don't just give them a laundry list of the services we provide. I give personal anecdotes about the creative ways that we've been able to help our clients, such as the graphic artists who have gained greater exposure from having their designs featured in our Folder Design Gallery. Appealing to your listeners with an emotional narrative will make it easier for them to remember your message because it taps into the deepest parts of their brain.
Keep your presentation as relatable as possible. People are more likely to listen to an amiable friend than a lofty lecturer. Don't be afraid to have a personality -- including an occasional joke, pop culture reference or personal anecdote can help to put your audience at ease.
Most importantly, keep your speech concise and simple. Make sure that every point you bring up connects to your ultimate conclusion. Don't lead your audience astray by going off on a tangent.
4. Allow Feedback
I've attended more than one sales meeting where the presenter didn't allow for any time to ask questions, and that alone was enough to make me not want to do business with them.
Conversely, if you allow time during your presentation for your audience to ask questions and provide feedback, it demonstrates that your premise can stand up to scrutiny. Try allotting time for feedback after each of your main points, as well as after you deliver your conclusion (when people are likely to have the most questions).
5. Draw a Conclusion
The best way to persuade your audience to do something is to demonstrate a clear benefit to them, preferably something they can achieve easily. It doesn't need to be a big purchase or a long-term commitment. Whenever I wrap up a presentation, I urge my audience to join the Company Folders mailing list or follow us on social media for valuable links and free resources. Ideally, your listeners should feel like they'd be missing out by not taking advantage of what you're offering them.
You can do this by demonstrating your point in a clear and personable way. For example, have each member of your audience fill out a scorecard that calculates how expensive it would be for them to not take the action you're suggesting. Having hard numbers right in front of you (written with your own hand, no less) is pretty compelling evidence, especially when they relate directly to your personal experience.
A business presentation is different from a commercial or print ad in that it puts you directly in the same room as your prospective clients. It's more than just a speech; it's a form of conversation. To be persuasive, remember to consider your audience's desires and listen to what they have to say.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.