You’ve landed your meeting with the CFO. She and her team are all assembled and ready to listen. Barely five minutes into your presentation, you see the disenchanted looks on people’s faces and realize, with that sinking feeling, that no one is really engaged.
Maybe that’s because you never captured their interest in the first place.
You’re probably not going to have millions of people listening to your sales pitch or demo, but these crowd-grabbing tactics from some of the top TED talk presenters of all time may be just what you need to galvanize your listeners.
“I want to start by offering you a free, no-tech life hack.” That’s how social psychologist Amy Cuddy begins her (now somewhat controversial) talk about how mind and body influence each other.
She leaves any technical complexities for later and immediately draws her audience close with her promise of practical coping advice or “life hacks.”
What kind of useful or intriguing business tips could you use to magnetize people’s attention as you begin your sales presentation?
James Veitch opens his wry presentation telling us, “This is what happens when you reply to spam email…”
His intro promises a wild ride, a mysterious encounter with an Internet outlaw, and maybe even a hilarious back and forth with an inept scammer – however the audience’s imagination sees the possibilities.
You might use this seductive opening technique to tell people a story about a client whose insurance was seriously messed up, or a case study of carriers offering their best rates to businesses with the best loss control. Whatever the topic, the key is to weave a tale that will draw people in.
“I need to make a confession at the outset here. A little over 20 years ago I did something that I regret…” That’s how Dan Pink launches into his TED talk about human motivation.
We probably don’t need to think back 20 years to remember a heap of things that we’ve also regretted, but Dan’s lead-in makes us want to know what his mistake was and what it has to do with the topic of motivation.
Mistakes are something everyone can relate to. And if knowing your mistake helps the prospect avoid their own, they’re surely going to want to listen attentively.
Julian Treasure scored 26 million views with his pithy, barely ten minute presentation, “How to Speak So That people Want to Listen.” He starts off proclaiming the power of the voice, and then makes an abrupt shift — “And yet…”
“The human voice: It’s the instrument we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the world, probably. It’s the only one that can start a war or say, ‘I love you.’ And yet many people have the experience that when they speak, people don’t listen to them.”
Setting up this sharp contrast between the power of the voice to move people and the problem of people not listening, Julian motivates his audience to pay close attention to the solutions he’s about to discuss.
If, like Mark Antony eulogizing Caesar, you want people to lend you their ears, and their eyes, and most importantly pay close attention, you’ve got to show them they’ll get something of value in return.
If you want people to listen well to your sales presentations, or anything else that matters, start with a story, a challenge, a claim that provokes real curiosity, or a promise of solid solutions for the kinds of challenges your audience is bound to identify with.