By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated August 01, 2013.
Looking for some killer advice for giving killer presentations? Gartner's Richard Fouts isn't quite sure he has killer advice -- but he is offering some noteworthy tips, tricks and techniques for delivering a solid sales presentation.
Considering how many pitches he hears from companies, Fouts, a research vice president at Gartner with 23 years of IT industry experience, knows a killer presentation when he hears one. He's also spent years reading about the topic and admits to giving his fair share of boring presentations.
With all that as a backdrop, Fouts offers his top five tips, tricks and techniques for killer sales presentations. Read on for some fresh TED talk-worthy ideas.
Tip 1: Get Original
"First, you must select something relevant where you have something original to say. Telling people what they already know is the most violated principle of delivering good presentations," he said. "When you look at your final deck, go through each slide and ask yourself: 'Am I telling my audience an old story?'"
Having doubts? If so, Fouts recommends finding a deeper level of insight you can share -- or share the moment that changed your thinking about your topic.
Alright, so what if you have to rehash old territory? How do you keep it fresh so your audience won't tune out and start thinking about lunch -- or the bright ideas your competitor shared in his pitch yesterday?
Foust has advice for that, too: "If you must re-hash old territory, say something like "by way of review," in your voiceover to let your audience know you're setting things up (with facts you know they know)."
Tip 2: Narrow the Scope
Foust's next piece of advice is to narrow the scope of your presentation. And after you've done that, narrow it again. His point is, trying to cover too much ground is the second most violated principle in any presentation.
"If you have a huge amount of ground to cover, fear not . . . just find the one sliver of thought you want to amplify," Foust said. He offers the example of a presentation on business transformation. It's a big topic, and he warns that if you find yourself presenting something this ambitious, you need to explain why traditional approaches to initiatives like transformation don't work.
"Talk about the approach business transformation initiatives require versus all of the big sweeping reasons one should transform. This brings us back to knowing your audience," Foust said. "Start with the assumption that they want to transform, then get into the approach that works, and the approach that doesn't. Try not to bore the audience with transformation lingo they've already heard."
Tip 3: Share Your Passion
Foust's third tip is simple and should come naturally if you are really into your products: expose your passion as to why your topic interests you, and why the things you've discovered are so mind blowing that you just had to share them.
"Seriously, if you think you can't do this, there's a documentary about the history of concrete you might watch," he said. "You'll be fascinated to see how concrete has played a critical role in the economic development of great nations. Anything is interesting if you look under the covers. If your passion about your topic isn't authentic, you're dead before you start."
Tip 4: Quantify the Impact
Fourth, he explains, quantify the impact your topic is having -- or about to have -- on the people you're talking to. If there's no quantifiable impact, he said, you're not talking about anything worth solving, worth exploring, worth thinking about.
"Sales calls that don't quantify impact end in 'thanks for coming by' versus those that end with, 'I want to learn more, I need to learn more, I must learn more,'" he explained.
Tip 5: Nix the PowerPoint
Finally, nix the PowerPoint. Yes, nix the PowerPoint. Foust suggests looking your audience in the eye and taking them through your storyline. He's betting most readers will ignore this tip because corporate culture demands presentation slides but he counters that thought with this argument: history's great orators weren't big on PowerPoint.
"If you need a 12-step program to implement this advice, use slides in spurts. Talk to a slide or two, let the screen go dark while you engage your audience with a personal story," he said. "Then, if you must, bring up another slide or two. Think of this practice as the cup of decaf you interleave throughout your day to deal with your insomnia."