Adland Man David Fish: Three Reasons Why Your Sales Presentation Failed To Resonate

Adland Man David Fish: Three Reasons Why Your Sales Presentation Failed To Resonate

David Fish (lead image) has over twenty five years’ experience leading strategy across a range of advertising and marketing roles, having pitched solutions with a combined value of several hundred million dollars to global clients. In this exclusive extract from his new book, What It Takes To Create Winning Presentations,  he offers top tips on why presentations so often flop…

Clients don’t generally tell you that you bored the pants off them talking about yourself for over an hour, that they didn’t understand most of what you presented or couldn’t figure out how to make it work for them, or that they were lost after the first 10 minutes and started to write out their to-do list for the week while making it look like they were taking notes.

I often hear people say they don’t really know why they didn’t win, or they blame something completely unconnected to the actual reason. Internally this becomes ‘our idea was not good enough’ or ‘we missed the brief’. A witch hunt takes place looking for someone to blame when the real cause will probably never be found through your eyes; only the audience knows where it all went wrong. I will now share the most common challenges that can derail you and stop your presentations from being an effective sales tool that should help you win.

1. Something for everyone

Have you ever sat through a presentation or even read a book and thought, This isn’t for me, what is this all about? or Why am I bothering with this? That isn’t how you want your audience to feel when you present, but I can’t tell how often this happens. This usually occurs when the audience for this specific presentation isn’t clearly identified upfront. As a result, different pieces of content get added for everyone ‘who might be interested’ or who might attend the meeting. All bases get covered. What could have been a clear message for the right audience, addressing a clear problem, becomes a waffly rambling collection of something for everyone. The hope that something sticks, that there is something in this that someone might get excited about, is not a great place to start.

2. Presentations without an anchor

When you start without a clear idea of who your audience is, what problem they have or what their underlying needs are, you are like a boat in a harbour without an anchor, at risk of drifting off at any moment. And drift you will as the opinions, content and ideas of others creep in during the building of your presentation, because you were not focused enough at the outset.

To take the audience on your journey showing how you solve their problem you don’t just need to know what the high-level problem is; you need to understand what it means to them, what the impact is of having this problem and what could be at stake if it isn’t solved. This fundamental understanding is core not just to how your presentation can be crafted around a compelling story; it is core to how every story brings a reader in. But this understanding does more than provide a nice way into your story. It is critical to how you establish the value in your ideas for your audience and how you curate the content to make this clear to them.

Solving a specific problem with a narrative aimed at the audience who cares about this being solved ensures your message cuts through with the people who matter, those for whom you deliver real value.

3. Generic messaging leads to expansion

When you are not clear about whom you are creating content for, you become generic in your points; you solve general problems with broad and sweeping statements and, worse still, you add more and more content trying to cover not just one problem – where you can deliver real value – but every problem that might exist for those in the room. This is where your presentation becomes bloated with content, waffly, complex and hard to navigate for you and the audience, who are probably wondering why they are there, given so much seems to be aimed at someone other than them.

The more you add, the more you dilute the value of your core idea, which started by solving a specific problem and is now solving all of the world’s problems in 90 slides. It becomes harder for the audience to hear your point, and to connect with what you are saying and

the benefit to them. This, in turn, makes it harder for them to recall any of what was presented or to find that one useful piece now lost in a sea of content for everyone.

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David Fish What it Takes to Create Winning Presentations

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