Afraid of going on stage and telling (selling!) the audience (about) your work? We’ve all been there. It’s plain scary. Especially if the key players, who can promote or fire you, or buy your work, are in the audience.
Moreover, one may say: the higher the stakes, the stronger the brakes. That’s right: you feel constricted, lost, feel like an imposter, and all of a sudden don’t know a thing about your job.
Why is it important to have that skill? Actually, it’s THE most important skill in modern business: you need to learn how to sell. And it’s not true when they say that good work “sells itself”, you need to know how to do it.
The Inverted Pyramid of Information
As the picture shows, the key is to structure your presentation as an inverted pyramid, a widely known technique in journalism.
It means you have to tell the MOST important information right from the start. That part has to be changed for different audiences- so you have to adjust it according to who you’re presenting to.
The next part is for important information, and that may or may not be altered for your listeners. The last part, which is the background story, does not depend on your audience, therefore, you tell it how it is, without alteration.
Issues of Not Knowing How to Sell
First, don’t TALK about the process AT the presentation, because no one really wants to hear anything about that. Simply put, it’s irrelevant for any presentation. Keep that in mind.
Also, to be confident, you need to know your stuff well. It absolutely must be quality work. To find this web design company Houston to see what we’re talking about. No matter how prepared and confident you are, if there’s no substance, it’s to no avail. You might sell it by accident, but it’s a short-lived success because you won’t be able to perpetuate it, and eventually get better at your job or climb up the ladder.
Let’s look into this a bit further: the problem is this- you go to a design school and learn the ins and outs of the design. Then you land a job (good job!) and eventually participate in the most outrageously expensive project with a lot of stakeholders. The hot potato of selling it and sealing the deal is in your shaky hands. And you know what? It happens to the most seasoned designers all the time: they are capable of making a proverbial spaceship without ever knowing how to sell it.
It’s a rather expensive enterprise though. NOT knowing how to sell. How so? Well, your company has put a lot of money in creating it: by hiring you and all other people, but also by paying people to come and watch your presentation. Just organizing that is gruesome with so many schedules to coordinate. You really don’t want to blow that chance.
Do This or Otherwise… – Spoiler Alert: It’s Expensive
The reason why all these people are in the room in front of you is that they want to know:
- If this works
- How it works
You’ll explain it by working on your skills to tell the decision-makers why it works, how the goals are being met and why that particular solution- how their business will benefit from it in the long run.
Don’t rely on slides. Please. They’ll become your comfort blanket, and you’ll look at them every now and then, and that’s bad. Because people can read themselves. As a consequence, you’ll lose your audience and your confidence.
Someone who’s not confident in their work solution cannot make people feel confident, first with their choice of a designer, then with the design. They’ll eventually feel stupid, and people don’t like feeling stupid. They’ll either change the designer or make you redo it. Even though you know the design is good and it works.
So, yeah, it’s expensive.
And yeah, you have to work on your selling skills.
What Else to (Not) Do
Now, back to the process of making your presentation.
You have to keep the feedback in mind. It is essential. Of course, you don’t want useless feedback. You’ll avoid it by making your presentation short, clear and to the point, the one that gives answers to the appropriate audience. The different audiences will look for different answers.
One thing is for sure: no one wants to listen to boring daydreaming about the type, or colors. Especially not the CFO.
Or, they do, but as a part of some meaningful story. AFTER you’ve answered the important questions right away. In the first minute. Also, irrelevant information inevitably draws irrelevant feedback, which in turn comes out as an expensive thing. The project is slowed down, other participants are waiting for your part to finish, but you need to explain to Micheal why you paid the type set as much as you did when there’s a very similar free one on the web. Phew. Boring, indeed.
Focus your presentation, don’t cramp it with information, practice delivering it. Explain the kind of feedback you’re NOT looking for, remind them of the project goals, and of the purpose of the meeting.
Also, ask them to wait for comments until you finish presenting. This will create the structure and set the pace.
If you strongly disagree with the client (and you will rest assured), don’t overreact with defensiveness, but listen empathetically. Then be honest with your advice.
You’ve got it. The experience and expertise are there, just let them sit with you. Learn what your audience really cares about and lead them through it.
Whatever you do, don’t beat around the bush only to reveal what’s important at the end. You might lose your audience and your precious project. On the other hand, if you tailor the experience, they’ll listen. They’ll help. And they’ll buy it. The whole package.
Author Byline: Liam Collins is a tech pundit and Web enthusiast working at TuiSpace.com. He spends most of his time reading and writing about the current affairs in the world of information technology. When he isn’t working, he likes going for long bike rides and walks in nature.