Every great presentation deserves an audience, and every great
audience deserves a presentation that delivers on its promises.
It's important to create a compelling story so people will want to
attend and to organize content in a way that engages people and
moves them to take the desired action, whether learning a skill,
implementing a new policy, or buying software.
A great presentation, on the web or otherwise,
- is about something people want to know or have become
- looks good
- is delivered professionally
- inspires people to take action.
If your presentation lacks any of these elements, something is
wrong. If your content isn't relevant to your audience, you won't
be able to deliver a great presentation. If your presentation has
interesting visuals and the package is slick but at the end of your
time with audience members they just shrug and say, "Not for us,"
then as far as you're concerned, you gave a good presentation but
not a great one.
In other words, great presentations are compelling. Compelling is
often defined as "forceful, demanding attention, or convincing" -
about as good a description of an excellent presentation, training
seminar, or meeting as could ever be found.
As a presenter, you want to compel your audience in two ways.
First, you want participants to show up interested in what you have
to say and eager to learn more. Then you want them to take the
desired action or learn the desired skill.
To compel them to show up, you must design the presentation with
the audience members in mind. A well-thought-out invitation tells
them what to expect and how to attend. Finally, you must deliver on
your promise with a presentation that engages them throughout and
drives them to take the desired action.
You're a great trainer with a fabulous message. Your product is
revolutionary. But why should audience members take time out of
their hectic schedules to listen to what you have to say? No matter
how experienced you are or how great your message is, people will
not attend your presentation unless you give them a concrete reason
to do so.
Let me tell you about someone who just didn't understand this.
When I first started Greatwebmeetings.com, a prospect complained
that he couldn't get anyone to show up for his free marketing
webinars. He had paid a developer for world-class visuals (I could
only dream of creating such great slides!), his presenters were
slick, and he had a product that, if people tried it, had a great
closing ratio. But he could not get enough people to sit through
his marketing events.
I knew the problem as soon as I received the first invitation to an
event. The email invitation read, "Learn all about the exciting new
features of _________ Software, Version 2.0." It then listed a
number of the product's new bells and whistles and why it was so
The problem was that all of the benefits involved the presenter and
had nothing to do with the customer. People had no reason to drop
everything and register, just to learn about a new software
program. (I don't know about you, but I have enough software on my
computer already.) The name of the software wasn't compelling or
interesting - I didn't care, and neither did most of the folks on
this client's prospect list. If they did care about the product,
then they were already customers and didn't need to sit through a
"get to know you" web event.
Make the benefit of attending the presentation clear in your
invitations. Make attendees' jobs easier. Save them money. Save
them money while making their jobs easier. Just give them a good
reason why they should care about what you're telling them! Before
you construct an invitation or put your presentation together,
write - in a single sentence - what people will get from attending
"Learn four ways to clear your ears after swimming" is so much more
compelling than "Why Earcleaner Formula 4 is for you."
"Hear our CEO outline what your job will look like for the next
year" is more interesting than "Visit our town hall to hear the CEO
You've done a lot of thinking and analysis. It is time to put it to
use. Compel people to attend by telling them what to expect and
what great value they'll get in exchange for their time. Don't just
get them to show up - make them want to show up. It all starts with
Whether formal or informal, a good invitation should contain the
same basic ingredients:
- the content of the presentation
- the type of audience it is designed for
- how it will benefit members of the audience
- when it will occur
- how to connect to the webinar or web meeting. (Make this as
painless as possible please.)
Answer all of these questions, and your audience will show up
predisposed to listen to what you have to say, if not to take your
Note: This article is excerpted from
10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations by Wayne
Wayne Turmel is the president of Greatwebmeetings.com and author of The Complete Web Presentation Handbook. He has more than 15 years of corporate communication knowledge and expertise in web presentation platforms. Besides being a "thought leader" at Management Issues, he's the resident expert on managing remotely at BNET UK. Turmel is probably best known as "The Cranky Middle Manager." His podcast has tens of thousands of listeners around the world who tune in to hear him interview the smartest people in the management field and offer his own commentary on the modern workplace.
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