How to Create High-Value Presentations that Attract New Business
By Joseph Sommerville, Owner, Peak Communication Performance
In challenging economic times, buyers look for
value. The more you provide, the more likely you are
to become the provider of choice. Presentations
offer excellent opportunities to provide that value
at different stages of the business development
Here are five ways to create more value in your
1. Solve a problem instead of peddling programs.
People know when they're being sold to, and it makes
them uncomfortable. Prospects invest their time in
attending or listening to a presentation, because
they believe it will benefit them in some way. They
don't attend to hear a thinly-veiled sales
presentation. Violating those expectations by
promising one thing, and then delivering another,
constitutes a "bait and switch," that quickly turns
prospects off. Prove to them they've made a wise
investment by placing your focus on education
instead, and you'll find a more receptive audience.
When you can solve a problem or remove a pain,
you're positioned as a resource instead of as a
vendor. The problem you address should resonate with
the audience's experience. That means you need to do
some audience analysis as you prepare the
presentation. Think about:
• What questions does your target market ask most
• What three challenges do they regularly face in
• What are the top mistakes people in similar
When you have the opportunity to survey the audience
in advance, you can customize your message even
more, and give them solutions that are immediately
2. Provide value-based marketing materials.
The typical presenter hands out colorful brochures,
slick flyers, glossy postcards about himself, and
the services he offers. These provide no value to
the audience. That's why these materials have an
extremely short shelf life. Instead, distribute
white papers, special reports, published articles,
checklists, and tip booklets. These serve as
resources the audience will use and keep. They also
provide top-of-mind awareness after the
presentation. One of the pieces I circulate includes
a four-page resource guide on creating and using
visuals. It contains a step-by-step guide to
creating effective visuals, examples of different
types of charts, and an article on how to avoid the
most common errors with PowerPoint presentations.
I've seen it in clients' offices five years after
they received it. You add value through these
collaterals when the information helps the audience
save money, increase their available time, or
perform a task more efficiently.
3. Get your presentation accredited to count for
continuing education units.
Many professional organizations require continuing
education to maintain professional designations.
Partner with one of them to develop a presentation
or course that meets these requirements. It provides
value to the members of the organization and
increases your demand as a speaker. Conduct some
research to determine which courses are mandatory
and which are electives. Focus on the former so your
course development efforts provide information
people must have. Since most organizations require a
certain number of professional education hours
annually, this can help you develop ongoing repeat
4. Offer a complimentary initial consultation for
If people aren't quite willing to hire you yet, but
will take the next step, an initial consultation can
serve several, useful purposes.
First, it provides an added benefit from attending
the presentation. You'll be giving audience members
another reason to believe they're getting a good
return on their investment of time.
Second, it provides an opportunity for each of you
to explore the other's approach, working style, and
personality. You can probably determine during that
initial conversation whether you can work together
Third, it gives prospects the opportunity to "try
before they buy." It can increase their comfort
level in hiring you and move them further along the
sales process. Limit the offer to the first 10 to
respond. That way you can set boundaries for
yourself and increase the sense of urgency. Don't
worry about "giving too much away." Prospects will
recognize your generosity and you'll build a
relationship of trust.
5. Partner with non-competing professionals that
serve your target market to create an educational
For example, an attorney and an accountant might
co-produce a seminar for small business owners on
"10 Strategies to Collect Accounts Receivable in
Tough Economic Times." A business broker and a
banker might organize a seminar on "5 Essentials You
Must Know Before You Buy a Business."
Such cooperation allows you to share expenses,
combine the power of your individual lists, and
leverage different perspectives on the same topic.
You'll need to agree on the desired outcomes and
make sure the project is mutually beneficial. You'll
have to invest some time to incorporate these
benefits into your presentations. It will require
some thoughtful audience analysis, creativity in
designing materials, and determined follow-through
with accrediting agencies and partners. But, the
return on that investment can be significant. When
you add value to your presentations, you pull
business in, rather than pushing it, on prospects.
---Source: ManageSmarter.com July 28,
2009. Joe Sommerville, Ph.D., is the owner of Peak
Communication Performance. He is also the author of
Rainmaking Presentations and has been featured in a
variety of trade and professional publications.
Follow him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/joesommerville.