Why give a presentation?

When you are giving a business presentation, there is inevitably a reason why you are presenting which is more than just to entertain.  You may want to educate your audience but invariable you are also trying to influence them or persuade them into a particular course of action.

Think about why you are presenting, what is it you would like people to do as a result of your presentation.  It may be that you want them to buy your products or services then and there, or maybe you have slightly more modest ambitions to move them on to the next step in the sales cycle.

Maybe you want them to change the way they think about something. If you have given them an excellent, informative, entertaining and persuasive presentation, do not end it without a call to action.  If you just leave people to go away and think about it, and no matter how fired up they are by your presentation, they will go off back to their normal world.  Back to where other pressures are placed on them, where interruptions are rife, back to what they are used to.  Even with the best will in the world, they will be distracted and may not follow through.

You need to set them a challenge, a call to action that will move them further forward in the direction of your goal.  You need to get them to buy in to your proposition.

Ending a business presentation without a call to action is essentially a massive waste of time.  You have wasted your time and their time, because without the call to action the chance of someone taking action off their own initiative is very low.

Presentations are not one off events; they should be part of an integrated plan to achieve your goals.  The call to action coming at the end of a presentation tells the audience what they should do next.  Without it, you are giving control over the process back to your audience, which means you no longer have control.  Control that you have invested a great deal of time and effort in, by creating and giving the presentation.

Many presentations finish with a question and answer session. Save your “call to action” until after the Q&A, it will be more likely to be remember and then undertaken. Once you have said your “call to action” sit down and shut up.

If this struck a chord, please visit my presentation training site.


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