Just got out of an all-day training session with a phenomenal group of sales reps. Every one had excellent content knowledge and fantastic energy. The room was abuzz with chatter, jibes and jokes.
And I can share with you the one most valuable thing that we all learned today: the key to a fantastic presentation is in the first five minutes. The introduction is where you set the pace for the entire talk, whether that be all day or a 15-minute sales call. The introduction is where you share who you are and why those people should care about your product or service. The introduction is where you set expectations. The introduction is where you show your prospects that you're not wasting their time. The introduction is where you and your product make your first impression.
Get the idea that the introduction is important? Good.
If you don't have time to rehearse the entire presentation, don't worry. If you can just rehearse the first five minutes and make sure it shows you and your product in all your glory, you'll still set the tone for a great talk.
What should a great introduction do? Glad you asked. Four things:
- Show appreciation for those who invited you. Thank them for coming and for inviting you. Honor their investment of time and attention from the get-go. They probably believe they have better things they could be doing--tell them up front you appreciate the chance to help save them time and money (with your product, of course) by spending the next hour with you.
- Introduce yourself. Why should they listen to you? Are you someone they know, like and trust yet? Most likely not. So introduce yourself. Create a 20-second benefit statement for you--not your product, YOU. Why are you here? Why should they care?
- Introduce your product/service. Again, why are they here? How can you help? How is this time investment going to make their lives easier? How are you going to save them time, money or their reputation? How are you going to make them look good to their bosses or clients? Create 20-second benefit statement for your product that shows not just what you do but why they should care.
- Set expectations. Let them know what you want them to learn during the talk. Good starters are, "At the end of this hour, you should... " For example, "At the end of this hour, I want you to identify and be excited about one thing you can implement right away that will improve your presentation skills." If you have time, try asking what each person expects to take away from the talk--let them tell you why they're willing to be there and listen.
As you craft your introduction, rehearse it. When I say "prepare, prepare, prepare," I don't mean that you should spend the time on your PowerPoint. I mean live, speaking OUT LOUD to your mirror or the dog. I mean saying what you're going to say at least five times OUT LOUD, in real time, just the way you plan to say it. And repeat every day until it flows like butter. (BTW, that's when the fun starts; then you can improvise and change it up).
The secret to a great presentation? Make a great first impression by preparing, preparing, preparing your introduction. And then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until you can recite it in your sleep.