Recently, I’ve been exploring information, engagement, persuasion as a presentation process with diverse groups like commodity sellers, financial analysts and engineering consultants. It has been quite easy to identify these 3 elements in the examples that have been shared. We’ve deconstructed the process, it’s been engagement that is the weakest link and yet in each case but it turns out that it’s this element which has the potential to yield the deliver the greatest value from the presentation.
Certainly in terms of creating client relationship opportunities this is true, but even within the presentation itself, the potential to influence the audience and persuade them in our favour increases when we have achieved a two-way connection.
Engagement – It’s Not Automatic
How an audience can be engaged through storytelling is illustrated by Garr using John Gathright’s presentation about the healing effect of trees (there are even charts & graphs!)
As you know, engagement is all about grabbing someone’s interest. They might be engaged for the right reasons (they are interested in purchasing the end product or they think this could be something to improve their life in some way) or they might be engaged for the wrong reasons (not being very impressed with the information but enjoying something about the presentation – perhaps the comedy aspect if there is one, perhaps the giveaways they assume they are getting at the end of it, or perhaps because they have nothing else to do but sit there and watch – yes harsh, but it happens).
Engagement is a two-way street, meaning the client not only has to like what they are seeing and hearing and wants to learn more, but you also means you need to keep this engagement going.
Mind Reading – It Can Work
It’s all very well delivering a great 15-minute presentation which grabs the attention of every possible client in the room, but go on for 30 minutes, 45 minutes… and what was interest in your presentation might soon become boredom, wondering what’s for lunch etc. You need to ‘read’ the audience and ‘connect’ (and keep it going!) in order to engage and maintain that engagement.
I’m not a mind reader but there are plenty of body language cues which can show whether someone is interested, or ‘engaged’ . Keep your presentation short and sweet, allowing sufficient time to get all your points across without missing anything out or repeating too much, and try to move seamlessly from the sharing information phase into the ‘persuasion’ phase.
A great way to carry out the information, engagement, persuasion technique would be keeping the information interesting and relevant, engaging the client in a natural way without anything seeming forced, and then persuading them without any trace of ‘push sales guy’ mentality. Nobody wants to feel pushed into anything, but deliver your arguments well and then engage naturally with your audience. This is something that takes practice, but it’s certainly worth practising, to achieve the best results!