Slidegenius, Inc.

Winning Your Audience Over: The Keys to an Influencing Pitch

One of the most difficult things a presenter does is instill certain beliefs or convince the audience that their product or service is the best choice.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

Apart from this, whether you hire PowerPoint presentation design services or create it yourself, you have to make sure that whatever shows up on the screen coincides with what you’re saying. Flow is important, as it contributes to how easy it will be to understand your pitch.

Winning the audience over may not be an easy feat, but it is, however, doable. Here are factors that make an influencing pitch:

Give & Take: Reciprocity

When you are pitching a fresh idea to an investor, provide a sample because not only would this make your presentation more memorable, but it will also help them understand your pitch better. In a way, it instills a sense of indebtedness, increasing their chances of complying to your request.

Reciprocity is useful in the world of sales, as this helps establish trust between you and your prospects.

What the Public Says: Social Proof

What makes you decide whether to watch a movie or not? Or if you should try the new restaurant in town? Usually, people take to Google and search for reviews before they try something new.

Most of the time, these influence decision-making and this is proof you should use social media to win your audience over.

Testimonials from previous clients give you an edge, as these showcase unique experiences provided by your product. In a way, these help your clients make informed decisions.

The 3 Cs: Commitment, Consistency & Credibility

The hardest part during a sales pitch is getting your audience to say yes. Gaining their approval contributes to the success or failure of your presentation, which is where learning the art of persuasion comes in handy.

Once you get your audience to comply with small requests, it will be easier for you to make larger requests, as they will be more likely to be receptive of these. Given that these are similar in nature to the original inquiry.

This was proven in a study conducted in the 1980s, where the “foot-in-the-door” technique was used. Martin Sherman called residents in Indiana and inquired about hypothetically volunteering and spending three hours collecting for the American Cancer Society. His associates called the same people three days later and actually requested help for the ACS. Thirty-one percent of those who responded to the earlier request agreed to help and this number is much higher than the 4% of people who volunteered when approached directly.

Your confidence and the trustworthiness of the content you are presenting invoke authority, reflecting your expertise on the subject, hence, making you credible. This convinces the audience that you are the right person to discuss a certain topic.

Moving forward, your custom PowerPoint presentation should coincide with your speech and vice versa. Not only do these factors apply to your speech, but these should also resonate with your visual aid, that way, your audience will be able to follow the discussion with their eyes and ears.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now

References:

Swanson, Elizabeth; Sherman, Martin & Sherman, Nancy. “Anxiety and the Foot-in-the-Door Technique.” The Journal of Social Psychology. June 30, 2010. doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1982.9922806

McLeod, Saul. “The Psychology of Compliance.” SimplyPsychology. 2014. www.simplypsychology.org/compliance.html

 

Public Speaking 101: Should You Read from a Script or Not?

There are four ways to deliver a speech: reciting it from memory, learning it by heart, using notes for reference, and reading it from a script word for word. The method you should use will depend on the type of speaking engagement and the personal circumstances you find yourself in.

Memorizing your speech is rarely a good idea because the artificiality of it makes your delivery sound stilted. You may risk sounding monotonous when the natural inflection of your voice disappears. Also, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll deliver a seamless presentation because your focus is shifted from getting the message across to getting the words right.

Learning your speech by heart and trying to wing it without notes can work. However, it can be risky because when you lose your train of thought, you’ll have nothing to rely on to get you back on track. The best method is to use notes because at least you have something to fall back on when you lose your footing. It can also help you transition from one idea to the next.

While learning all this is good, we’re not really here to talk about the three ways of delivering a presentation. Instead, we’re here to understand the fourth: reading directly from a script. Script reading is a practice that is highly discouraged, unless you’re a person of politics who needs to deliver a speech exactly as it’s written. If you’re a student delivering a report or a business executive making a pitch, there’s no excuse for you to read from your notes at all. This is a basic public speaking convention that you should know by default.

Why Reading from a Script Is Discouraged

You may be tempted to bring a script to your next public speaking gig and read it word for word. It’s luring because you don’t have to memorize or learn your speech by heart anymore. Everything you have to say is literally in your hands. It makes you feel secure because, in theory, you can’t lose your train of thought. It’s effortless preparation-wise. So, if it’s so reassuring, why do professionals advise against it? There are plenty of reasons, and we’ll explain three of them:

  • A written speech rarely translates to an oral discussion. We don’t speak the same way as we write. Words that are written for the eye (i.e. grammatical, syntactic, generally well-structured) don’t always sound well to the ears. If you want to sound conversational, you need to write the same way as you talk.
  • A script shifts attention from the audience. Reading from a script requires you to look at your notes, and this shifts your gaze away from the audience and limits your interaction with them. As a result, your delivery loses the personal touch it needs. You’re basically just standing there aloof, with your audience feeling left out. They feel like they’re listening to a monologue rather than taking part in a dialogue in which their opinions matter.
  • Your words and actions are measured and limited. A script limits both your words and actions. You’re not free to use whatever manner of delivery you like because you’re corralled into the four edges of your cheat sheet. Aside from this, reading from a script can add a physical barrier between you and the audience: a lectern. This barrier will only fortify the walls you’ve built, ultimately resulting to a disconnect.

Planning for the Inevitable: Tips When Reading Your Speech

Without a doubt, no matter how many times you’re warned, you’ll always find an excuse to deviate from what’s recommended. So, to help you minimize the repercussions of reading from a script during a public speaking engagement, here are four tips for you to apply:

1. Employ the scoop-and-speak technique

For this to work, you need to print your notes in large font and have them written on the top portion of a document so that your eyes don’t have to stray down too far. Every time you pause, look at your notes, and before reciting what you’ve scooped, look at the audience again. Eye contact is crucial in public speaking. When reading from your notes, you don’t have to keep it a secret and act surreptitiously. Just chill out and act natural.

2. Draft a dialogue, not a declaration

Even if you’re reading from a script, you should try to not look like it. When drafting your speech, make sure to use common conversational words that sound natural when spoken. Use informal language; otherwise, you’ll just sound foreign and distant. Be mindful of the natural cadences and rhythms of spontaneous speech, and make sure to apply them throughout your presentation. To improve your vocal variety, you can adjust your facial gestures to match your words.

3. Don’t use your slide deck as a script

Your PowerPoint presentation is not a script, so don’t treat it as such. Instead, make separate notes that you can use as guide. You can also use the Notes feature in PowerPoint. It has a Presenter’s View that can let you see your notes for a selected slide without the audience seeing them. Just make sure to practice using your script beforehand so that you won’t get lost in the middle of the presentation.

4. Mind the structuring of your text

Break long blocks of text by using headings, subheadings, line breaks, and pauses. Use signals to help you break down the text and cue you as to where to begin and end, or what to stress and blend. You can even add instructional annotations along the margins to make everything crystal clear.

When you’re in a pickle and you have no choice but to read from a script, follow the tips above. However, in any other situation, try to explore other ways of delivering your presentation. Don’t limit yourself to the four edges of a page. Instead, allow your mind to roam free without straying too far from your core message. This is, after all, what being an effective public speaker means.

Resources:

Dlugan, Andrew. “How to Make Reading a Speech Not Like Reading a Speech.” Six Minutes. December 7, 2011. sixminutes.dlugan.com/reading-your-speech

Marshall, Lisa B. “Read, Memorize, or Use Notes.” Quick and Dirty Tips. September 23, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/read-memorize-or-use-notes

Matthews, Alan. “Pros and Cons of Using a Script When Speaking.” Alan Matthews Training. May 13, 2015. alanmatthewstraining.com/2015/05/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-script-when-speaking

Wyeth, Sims. “Do You Read from a Script? Should You” Presentation Guru. April 20, 2017. www.presentation-guru.com/do-you-read-from-a-script-should-you

What Do Great Public Speakers Have in Common?

Effective speakers ensure to leave lasting impressions during each presentation. Being a great public speaker means being able to translate your expertise into words understandable enough for your audience to comprehend even if they have very little knowledge on the topic.

Apart from having a well-designed custom PowerPoint presentation, you also need to be confident in the delivery of your pitch. Not everyone has the inherent talent of flawlessly delivering their speech in front of a large audience.

Here are some of the notable traits that effective speakers possess—keep your eyes trained for qualities that are guaranteed to inspire, influence, and make a significant difference on your audience’s lives:

They start strong and end strong.

When the opening is executed right, it immediately engages the audience and all you have to do as the speaker is keep their attention on you for the duration of the presentation. Remember, the first words that spill from your mouth can either make or break your sales pitch.

Apart from this, you also have to end things as strong as your beginning. Pro tip: pattern your presentation akin to a story, wherein it has a beginning, middle, and end. The more memorable your speech is, the greater the chances of memory retention.

They exude confidence.

Even the world’s best orators get nervous, but their strength lies in their ability to conquer their nerves instead of the other way around. Your audience can smell fear and uncertainty—if you show weakness, the less likely it will be to engage and motivate them.

They speak in the audience’s language.

The head of TED, Chris Anderson, shares that the speaker’s primary objective is to build their idea in the minds of their audience. This means it should be communicated in a way that changes someone’s perspective, potentially influencing their actions for the present and the future.

One of his tips included speaking in the audience’s language. This means avoiding the use of industry jargon and instead, using metaphors and information that listeners are more familiar with.

He also recommends practicing in front of friends and have them give their feedback on which parts confuse them the most so that the speaker can improve their presentation.

They mix words with gestures.

Not only is modulating important, but so are mannerisms, as these also make an impact. These help convey your enthusiasm and convictions, putting emphasis on important information.

Most importantly, great speakers connect with their audience—don’t be afraid to make eye contact and ask rhetorical questions. Remember, your listeners should be able to relate with what you’re saying.

They are organized.

When your presentation is structured and is executed with a sound agenda, the more comprehensible it will be for your audience. Experienced speakers make sure that they clarify their objectives before presenting, as this will make the flow easier to follow. Plus, this allows audience members to save their questions for the appropriate sections

Public speaking is not an easy feat, but with practice and these principles in mind, you’ll be on the right track to becoming one of the best speakers out there.