Everyone loves to hear a great story. However, the overwhelming majority of business presentations merely serve to present data, and not to persuade. Great presenters create edge of seat engagement by weaving emotion into their stories. Selling is the transference of that emotion from the seller to the potential buyer. Utilizing story inspired with emotion to present our ideas minimizes the difficult thinking required of our audience and provides psychological comfort to act upon our call to action.
There are 3 powerful techniques that we can use to infuse emotion into the structure of our story; differentiation, justification and desired results. Differentiation begins by establishing their current situation, also referred to as the adaptive level. We discover the adaptive level well before making any type of presentation of our value proposition. People judge by comparison, we therefore begin by framing our story within the current situation with the requisite limitations, current impact, and potential consequences. Then, we follow the adaptive level with the relative benefits of our solution, creating an easy, don’t make me think too hard, differentiation.
“The orator is the embodiment of the passions of the multitude. Before he can inspire them with any emotion he must be swayed by it himself. Before he can move their tears his own must flow. To convince them he must himself believe.” - Sir Winston Churchill
Studies indicate that providing any type of justification, no matter how trivial, greatly increases the probability of customers taking the desired action. For example, studies were performed whereby someone was asked to request breaking in line in front of others. As expected, nearly everyone said no. However, when the same actor was instructed to provide justification such as “I’m double-parked or my meter is running out”, when requesting the breaking in line request, the request was usually honored. Think how powerful this trigger can be when it is supported with a valid reason for justification. Two high-powered justifications, when legitimate, are scarcity and deadlines. A wise man in the Miami area tells a humorous story that proves the power of scarcity and justification. A customer complained about the price on his bags of fertilizer at his local nursery, saying that the big home-improvement store, just down the street had the identical product for ½ the price. The owner politely inquired as to why she did not buy the fertilizer there? The customer remarked that they were out-of-stock. To which he replied “ours is also ½ the price . . . when we are out-of-stock”.
Finally, we must direct our story to that which our customers hope for . . . their desired results. The key to desired results is finding out exactly what our specific customer wants and we do that well before our presentation. We must understand how our customers measure their success. We gain this understanding when we become proficient with asking great questions. When someone is promising to deliver exactly what we hope for, we want to believe them. Against all odds, millions of us play the lottery, not because of logic, rather because of hope. When we are presenting, we need to tell our story in the language that resonates with our specific customer, their desired results.
So, during your next presentation, rather than serving up data, put some emotion in the story. While the use of these 3 techniques: differentiation, justification, and desired results; will be more engaging and entertaining to your customer, you will benefit by many more adhering to your call to action. Your role is to transfer the emotion you hold to your customer as I hope I have done for you.