How The Most Successful Presenters Pitch Their Ideas
Organisations call on bestselling sales author and internationally respected business expert Ian Altman to provide guidance and innovative insight on business strategy and sales. Altman’s proven methods help modernise sales and marketing to align with how customers actually make buying decisions. Through his energetic and interactive talks, Altman engages audiences from beginning to end to ensure they leave with actionable take-away messages they can immediately put into practice. In this column for Forbes, Ian shares some top tips on how to put your best foot forward when delivering a speech:
It’s not enough to simply deliver a message. I’m flattered when I get glowing feedback from the audience after a talk. When I deliver a keynote address, I know I need to inspire, entertain, educate and engage the audience. My keynote address is only successful if the audience gets new ideas, can internalize those ideas, and then apply them to their world while having fun in the process.
My fellow speaker and brilliant master of ceremonies, Mark Jeffries has a great formula he shared with me during a recent discussion
After more than a decade of speaking and hosting conferences and events that include top celebrities like Serena Williams, Richard Branson and Will Smith, he’s developed a simple four-part framework that is guaranteed to wow an audience. Make no mistake, as a guy who spent years as a television personality, Mark Jeffries is a world-class master of ceremonies.
But first, he starts by asking clients an intriguing question:
“When you’re at home in the evening, and you slump onto your couch with a nice, big martini — that’s my MO, at least — and you turn the TV on and you’re flipping through the channels and suddenly you find a channel featuring a man in a grey suit standing very still talking in a monotonous fashion with a slidedeck full of words behind him, do you stay on that channel?”
Of course not, Mark gasps. “That’s the last thing we want to watch, and yet this is what we give people at conferences and events all over the world.”
Instead, he asks, why not give people what they want? Why not give them an experience they can walk away from feeling inspired and educated and entertained?
When he works with executives on how best to present their ideas on stage, he reminds them of the word TIME.
What Is TIME?
I have the good fortune to speak on many stages. I also get to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of other speakers. Some might be brilliant, just not the style content that appeals to me. Some, however, really stand out as fan favorites for almost every audience. After years of speaking at and hosting events, Mark noticed that all the best presenters shared similar qualities. Aside from being well-versed on their topics, he saw that they had what seemed like a natural charisma and command of the audience. Was that something these speakers were born with, he wondered. Or did they develop their skills?
Turns out, anyone can develop the skills needed to be a better presenter. The pros, it appeared, had TIME on their side. TIME is the acronym Mark developed to describe the key ingredients of a good presentation.
What Does It Mean?
T stands for Teach.
“We all love to be informed of something we’ve not heard before or something that perhaps changes the way we think,” Mark says. “If you can get somebody’s mind activated with a new idea, they are much more likely to listen to you. Tell them something interesting.”
I means to Inspire.
“When you inspire people, you’re not boring them with the whole process. You’re actually saying: Hold on. At the end of this, this is how different your life, your world, your customers, and your business processes are going to be. That is an inspiring picture and people respond well to that when you’re presenting,” Mark says.
M stands for Motivate.
“What you really want to do in any presentation is motivate (the audience) to some form of action,” Mark advises. “So in any presentation, whether you’re across the table (from someone) at a Starbucks or you’re standing on a stage in front of 5,000 people, you have to at least know that you’re giving them one thing they’re going to go away with.”
E means to Entertain.
As speaking coach extraordinaire, Michael Port, notes, “You want the audience to agree with your points — not with you. It’s the difference between ‘That’s right’ and ‘You’re right.”
Mark suggests, “Be real, be a real person. People buy people right? And if you don’t have that personality that is charismatic and warm and very likeable, no one is going to buy your ideas. No is going to buy what it is you’re selling.” He adds, “You have to be the likeable person. And I so often see somebody who is in front of me who is just not likeable and they must as well just give everyone a handout and sit down.
“If you develop that connection (with an audience) in your short pitch, you’ve got them. You can basically have them come around to your way of thinking in a far easier fashion than if you were brusque and arrogant.”
It’s Not About You
It’s tempting to think a presentation is all about the speaker when all eyes are on him. But the truth is, the greatest presenters know that it’s not about them. It about the audience — and their needs, desires, challenges and problems.
A pitch should never revolve around you.
“When I’m hosting events, I get to introduce business leaders and business thinkers and they get up there and they pitch, and half the time it is just not appropriate for that audience,” Mark says. “They haven’t even bothered to think about their audience or to understand the world in which their audience lives. And it fails. It falls down.”
“When you’re pitching your idea you have to be smart enough to stop and say wait a minute: what is this person actually looking to buy before I even try and sell them anything?”
It’s Your Turn
When have you been inspired or inspired others to take action? What made the difference?