How to give a presentation without revealing all your secrets

I had this question a couple of days ago: I want to start a business, and I want to use 1-hour, free presentations to demonstrate what I do and what I'm offering. How do I do that without giving away all my secrets?

I love using 1-hour presentations to show business owners the simplicity and power of the Tornado Method. Some of these presentations are at breakfast meetings, others over lunch time and others during the day or evening at business gatherings.

When I look at my clients and workshop participants, a large proportion of them have seen me speak at some kind of event. With the opportunity to see how I present and work with participants in a workshop setting, they're much better able to determine whether my paid workshops will be worth their time and money.

But, as the question above stated, how do you do a presentation like that without giving away the farm? More specifically, how do you do the presentation so you attract participants to your paid workshops or courses?

Generating leads with a 1-hour presentation

As I mentioned above, the 1-hour presentation has been a great way for me to generate leads for my business. These presentations are a small time commitment, business organisations are always looking for high-quality, relevant content for their members, and it's a relatively small investment of my time. In other words, there's a decent ROI (Return On Investment).

To generate leads for your business, these presentations have to meet the following four criteria:

  • it has to be relevant;
  • it has to be engaging;
  • it has to provide real value; and
  • there has to be a very clear call to action.

Let's look at each of these, and then I'll show you how this helps you give compelling, engaging presentations without giving away all your secrets.

Your presentation has to be relevant

It may sound obvious, but your presentation has to be relevant to your target audience. If it's not relevant, chances are that you're going to attract very few attendees.

But what does it mean for your presentation to be relevant?

Relevance means that your presentation has to speak to a problem your audience needs to solve. Preferably, that problem is both urgent and expensive - they need to solve the problem quickly because it's either costing them money or driving revenue for their business.

Let's look at a couple of examples:

How to sell

For almost all businesses, sales is a problem. Most entrepreneurs are not good sales people, and asking them what they struggle with, sales will often be one of the top items. Moreover, they're afraid of sales, have preconceived notions that sales requires a certain personality and a thick skin.

If you can teach them one or two techniques that will help them get over their fear of sales, show them that it's really about caring for your customers, and that it's not as difficult as they think it is, you've gone part-way to solving their sales problem.

Sales is a relevant problem for most small businesses.

How to deal with overwhelm

My own Tornado Method is a comprehensive framework for designing, building and managing a small business. But having a framework is not a problem for my target audience (small business owners). The workshop that consistently attracts the most attendees is how to deal with overwhelm.

Overwhelm is a relevant problem for every small business owner. Everyone who is building or running a small business is overwhelmed, and holding out the promise of helping them deal with overwhelm always gets their attention.

Relevance is expressed in the title of your presentation

Just having a relevant problem to help your target audience is not enough though - your presentation has to have a title that will immediately attract your audience's attention.

All marketing (including marketing your presentation) has to compete for attention, and a compelling title is the first key to getting people to read more than just glancing at a title.

For my workshop, the full title is Introduction to the Tornado Method - how to deal with overwhelm in your business. The word overwhelm seems to jump out at business owners and get them to come to my presentations.

For the sales example above, there are many titles you can use - it has to stand out from other sales promises and clearly state the problem. For example: how to sell without selling (not a particularly good one), sales for non-sales people (maybe a little better) or how to sell effectively even if you don't like selling. I like this last one the most because it speaks to the dislike of sales that many business owners have.

Your presentation has to be engaging

This is another obvious one, but from the number of presentations that I've seen that are lacklustre at best, not everyone got the memo.

The worst kind of presentation has a talking head at the front of the room reading from bullet points on slides. It's called death by bullet point. Epic fail. Don't do that.

The best kind of presentation demonstrates how to solve a real-world problem within the framework of a presentation.

Engaging your audience with real-life action

Take the how to sell example above. You can engage your audience just with some decent slides and an engaging presentation, but the impact on your audience is going to be fairly low.

However, if you have an assistant, or even a volunteer from the audience, you can demonstrate each point of your presentation live with a real person. This has a much bigger impact.

For example, let's say you want to teach your audience the value of active listening. You could just stand in front of your audience and show them what active listening looks like.

Demonstrate what active listening looks like

But way better is to have your assistant (or volunteer), sit down in a chair in front of the audience with your in another chair in front of them. You tell the audience "this is what bad listening looks like", and you ask your volunteer a question. You then demonstrate what bad listening looks like - not making eye contact, fidgeting, playing with your phone… Everyone immediately gets the point.

You then repeat the exercise to show your audience what active listening looks like. You lean in, make eye contact, ask confirming questions, make encouraging noises and adopt focused body language.

Your audience has now not only heard what active listening looks like - they've also seen it in action. This has a way higher impact on your audience and is a lot more fun as well.

Your presentation has to provide real value

To engage your audience - and more specifically - to get them to sign up for a paid workshop or course, you have to provide real value in your 1-hour presentation. Your audience has to walk away with the following idea:

I will be a superstar if I attend the full course!

Many marketing presentations (which is what these 1-hour presentations really are) try to teach the audience a full recipe for solving a problem. This doesn't work - here's why:

We may understand something quickly. But making that understanding part of how we think about things and do things takes practice, reinforcement and time.

You can overload your audience with a ton of information in an hour - and they will most likely walk away confused and overwhelmed. There's not a lot of value in that.

But teach them just one thing (or maybe two) they can put into practice right away, and they will have gotten a lot of value and be much more likely to come back for more.

In this case, less is certainly more. Less information, more value.

Your presentation has to have a clear call to action

Many of my lunch-hour presentations are hosted by business organisations that frown on overt or hard selling during the presentation. After all, they're trying to provide value to their members, and if you're spending most of your time selling your widgets that doesn't happen.

But those same organisers also know that you're there to market your business, products or services, so some call to action from you is expected. If you provide real value during the presentation, people will want to know more at the end and getting them to sign up for more information should be quite acceptable.

I've found some of the most compelling calls to action to clearly show your audience that they've gotten one or two parts of the solution to their problem. They can certainly use what you've given them, but if they want the full solution they'll have to speak to you, or sign up for more information.

So have a call to action. Make it clear and keep it simple.

So how does this help me not give away all my secrets?

You can't reveal all your secrets in an hour.

If you can, the problem you're addressing is so small, and so simple, that your target market has already solved it. So don't be afraid that you will give away the farm in an hour.

Instead, provide your audience an overview of your whole solution, and then show them how one small part of it works. Dive into that part in depth and show them how they can solve it so they have real value from the presentation.

With that real value delivered, and the knowledge that that is just one small part of the puzzle, they will want more - they will want the solution to the whole puzzle. And that's what your call to action is about - get them to sign up for the full solution to the problem.

Good luck with your presentation! Deliver real value and leave them wanting more.

PS: You can also apply this technique to online webinars or videos. Keep it as short as you can but apply the same four principles: relevant, engaging, real value and a clear call to action. This can be a good lead magnet for your business.

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