Here are seven typical ways sales presentations start. They are all bad.
We'll get to a good one in a moment. First, let’s take a look at the bad ones in order of their badliness or "badiosity:”
1. Sob story about “how tough your family had it” growing up
When you start this way, with your origin story, it doesn't have any tangible benefit, and in the end you’ll find, 80% of people don't care about your past or present problems, and 20% are glad you have them.
2. Discussion of the weather
The ability to detect heat or cold is not a traditional sign of business talent, intellect or trustworthiness.
3. A half-relevant quote from a famous person
This tells me the presenter isn’t working hard enough to come up with their own brief, snappy take-away, so they have rely on some long dead person's brief snappy take-away, “50 years ago, Ernest Hemingway once said, You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Or it might have been Michael Jordan, anyway …."
4. A Joke
I like to use humor to keep things lite and fun, but the outright telling of a joke usually doesn't end well. And for those times when I really need a joke, I pay for it by hiring Hollywood joke-writers. The Pros. Plan to spend $1,500 to have your opening jokes “punched-up” – or just stay away from jokes and save the dough.
5. A rhetorical question
Did you know half the people on earth are women? This will insult the audience's intelligence (at least half of them) and it's so lazy.
6. Review of the agenda
The most boring, uncreative, snooze-inducing and attention-losing introduction possible.
7. Discussion of recent sports event
Unless it's the Dallas Cowboys winning two games in a row. THAT is conversation-worthy. Otherwise, no sports.
Rather than discuss each of the above in further detail, let me mash them together so you can see how bad these openers are alone, or when combined.
(if today you are successfully using one of these openers, please reply to this email and let me know just when you became a Level 5 Warlock)
BAD OPENER MASH-UP:
Hi, my name is Robert Mugabe, I'm here today to introduce you to my new app called, "Meglomaniac.” A little about me: my family moved here from [INSERT NAME OF BROKE AND WARTORN NATION eg. Mozambique, Laos, Djibouti, West Virginia] and 12 of us shared a 1-bedroom apartment in South Boston, where my dad pumped gas until he saved enough money for me to attend The New England Culinary Institute … … but hey, isn't this heat wave crazy, looks like climate change is actually real, like they always say on CNN for the past 20 years … well, this all reminds me my favorite quote, I believe it was Jesse Jackson who once said, "I deny the allegations, and I deny the alligator." So, I thought I would start today's presentation by asking, with a show of hands "Who here would like to make more money, yet work only 4-hours a week?" GREAT! Ok, here's the agenda I'll be presenting: 1. Who we are 2. Why we are here. 3. Technical Details 4. A contrived story about how useful our product is 5. A half-hearted call-to-action. Anyway, did you see the Dallas Cowboys game last week? END.
Terrible, right? Yet we have all done some of this.
Ok, so if, after reading and considering this, you still want to start your next presentation with any of 1-7 openers above, let me know and I'll do what I can to stop you from committing martyrdom on behalf of your company.
So if the standard stuff everyone uses is bad, what will work?
I suggest a method called EMPATHY ENGINEERING. You can use this to create a brief, original and powerful opener that doesn't rely on cliches. Let me explain, I think you’ll like this:
Nothing gets a person’s pulse up faster than a great plot driven by revenge. I’ve noticed that the best comedians (eg. Dave Chappel) also use this method.
The Revenge Opener is a form of Empathy Engineering, and works by setting up an antagonist — someone who is against you, and has wronged you.
The antagonist gives the audience an urge to root for you, the protagonist/hero. The audience becomes emotionally invested in you ‘winning’ after being wronged.
Here’s a simple Revenge Opener I recently wrote for a client, word-for-word. It worked quite well:
(spoken slowly and seriously:)
"My alarm goes off.
I get up.
Sit in traffic.
Get to work. Find a parking spot.
Slide my keycard. Login to computer.
51 new messages.
15 from my manager asking for status reports.
Look at my watch.
Cool, only 40 more years to go.
I resign. And start this company.
Just hired employee #50."
Ha! There are two main reasons this is a great intro:
Since everyone in the audience have also had an experience with being disappointed, betrayed or otherwise slighted, they empathize with your dilemma and are emotionally invested.
Since they have all had a similar experience, they want to see how you resolve it. So, when you “avenge” the wrong that was done to you, the audience feels that they also win. It’s a more personal experience for them, so they applaud the win.
By its nature, this type of presentation opener contains the critical combination of tension. The correct amount of push-and-pull. The way I wrote it there is immediate conflict and resolution; this gives the story the necessary beginning, middle and end that audiences crave.
When we use this approach our audiences are already groomed to applaud when the story resolves. It’s the same as when a country song ends, the story resolves, the audience naturally wants to applaud.
1. Try out a Revenge Opener, keep it simple, follow the formula.
2. I don't ask much of you, and I do give out a lot of good quality free content. But today, I ask do ask for something small in exchange: send this email to a friend or colleague.
3. And if you want to be even more involved, reply to this email and let me know you’re alive and what you’re working on. Mainly I’m looking for growing companies that want to raise money or grow faster, but I’ll listen to interesting people with a great story to tell.