Customers today are distracted; the need to capture their attention and hold it is acute. There is a saying that describes the role of Marketing as being to “get all the ducks in a row”, and it’s Sales’ job to “shoot them.” Of course, we don’t want to shoot customers – quite the opposite – but we need to recognize the hard work it takes to get them there in the first place. When a customer is standing in your office, it’s the result of many hours of Marketing activities and careful nurturing of each potential lead. If we stumble at the last stretch before the finish line, then all that work is for nothing.
Once your customer has been ‘lined up’, the next step is often a persuasive presentation. The goal is not to exchange information, but to demonstrate the relevance of your products or solutions to their situation. Facts can be looked up or emailed at any time – your presentation has to offer a more complete experience that erases any doubt and confirms their trust in your company.
The key to achieving a persuasive presentation is to make it into an experience that’s sizzling with relevant storytelling and served with just the right level of emotion to trigger action. How do you do that?
Ask this question before the audience does – not necessarily as part of the presentation, but rather to ensure that the point is clear for you. Once this is well-defined, make sure it’s also clear to the audience, so they stay attentive.
A customer presentation is an opportunity to meet, and look each other in the eye. While we find it hard to trust faceless entities such as corporations, it is much easier to trust a familiar face. Don’t forget this important human element in your presentation, because it’s often neglected.
When you can’t meet in person, remote presentations can use digital storytelling software to show digital stories as a critical component in your messaging. These can help overcome the gulf created by distance or lack of familiarity, and it can be both repeatable and customizable.
When a customer comes to your briefing center, they are not there for you. They’re looking to exchange ideas and explore solutions that benefit them, so your presentation must center around them with relevant concepts.
Don’t try to overload the customer with facts. Even when they’re highly relevant, it’s better to be highly selective with facts and figures and only use them to anchor an ‘idea’. The difference between a fact and an idea is subtle, but by focusing on the latter you create an open discussion that can reflect the customer’s perspective better.
Be prepared to receive ideas as much as giving them out. If you pay too much attention telling them what you can do, this can become inadvertently restrictive. Listen to your customer as they describe their situation, and respond with stories that reflect a similar situation and how you solved it.
A digital story can be highly effective for this, but only if it doesn’t interrupt the flow of idea exchange. Good digital storytelling software should enable total flexibility in this regard, and allow you to flip between content in a non-linear way. This is a massive improvement compared to traditional presentation and slideshow software solutions.
When you can use your digital stories to show a range of possible solutions and how they impacted the people involved, you can then open the conversation to see if this looks like a good match for them, and what needs to be different for it to line-up perfectly.
Persuasion requires the judicious use of emotion, and this isn’t easy. However, with some carefully prepared digital stories you can produce the right combination of trust, empathy, and hope.
Your customers will be most effectively persuaded by a customized presentation that includes a strong and interactive human element, supported by varied digital components. These should include digital stories that inspire, visual data, linked media assets, and 1-2 brief slideshows.
The goal of the visual support is to make the presentation attractive, but not confusing or cluttered. Many people try to include everything in the slideshow component, which is usually a mistake. Slideshows are intrinsically constrained in their capabilities and you lose the value of digital stories and media assets when they’re stuck in the PowerPoint deck instead offering an opportunity to shift perspective.
Some apps can help you to make a more visually pleasing slide deck, and this can help make it more appealing. These include Haiku Deck, Prezi, PowerPoint, Canva, and Google Slides. Microsoft’s PowerPoint, however, remains a leader in the field. There are also several online and cloud-based tools for making an attractive presentation. But a slideshow is ultimately just a slideshow – the format is somewhat limiting.
Digital storytelling software can become a versatile hub for any presentation. Enterprise-grade digital storytelling software such as Hyro can serve literally any kind of media asset (including a slideshow) using its cloud-based and web-friendly architecture. Software like this can also be used to make presentations accessible for remote audiences as well.
There are many psychological tools and tricks that you can use to be more persuasive. These include the Bandwagon Effect, The Halo Effect, The Expert Effect, Social Proof, and the power of positive emotion.
All of these are hard to use in a traditional presentation, but very easy to wield effectively with digital stories. Storytelling is the perfect way to leverage these tactics.
Without needing to shell out on an enterprise grade digital storytelling software solution, there are some simple ways you can use the storytelling paradigm. For instance, consider ways you can reframe existing facts or figures as a story. Their 12% of unanswered calls can then become a story about frustration among staff and stress when they can’t meet their goals. You can talk about how managers struggle to find solutions, while their customers become increasingly dissatisfied before eventually hanging up. A simple story like this, even a verbal one, is much more tangible than “12% unanswered calls.” For larger companies however, it makes good sense to invest in a mature solution in the form of digital storytelling software. This can handle the challenge of hybrid meetings, complex media assets, and non-linear storytelling – all of these have huge benefits that reach far beyond making your presentations more persuasive. This kind of investment makes a company ready for an agile and digital future.