If you create presentations to sell or to persuade, deciding what you want to say, and in what order, is obviously extremely important. And what better place to turn to for guidance than copywriting. Copywriting is usually defined as the art and science of writing to sell. Experience (it’s an old discipline) and modern research have provided many guidelines for getting the desired results.
After all, copywriters test and test and test again. When you click on a link and go to a page that describes a product, little do you know that other people click that link and go to a slightly different page. Marketers then count how many people buy from each page. They choose the winner, modify the better page slightly, and the start over, comparing results.
From this process, copywriters have derived tried and true principles for effective selling and persuading. Remember, even if you’re trying to persuade your boss to approve a new project, you can use these principles.
The most common structure is called AIDA:
- Attention: Get attention.
- Interest: Keep interest
- Desire: Create desire
- Action: Spur action
How do you translate AIDA to presentations?
In traditional copywriting, you use the heading to get attention. In a presentation, the first words out of your mouth should get your audience’s attention. Will, “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’d like to start by telling you a little bit about our company” do it?
Instead, say or do something to get attention. Ask the audience a challenging question. “How many of you sometimes feel like a gerbil in an exercise wheel?”
Display a striking, full-slide photo. You might use this one if you’re presenting about organization and time-management skills.
Put a thought-provoking quote on a slide.
(Effect by Julie Terberg of TerbergDesign. You can get this and many more for free on Microsoft’s Web site.
Tell a meaningful story
Yes, if no one introduces you, it’s OK to introduce yourself and explain what you’ll be saying, but finish it in under 1 minute. But putting the attention step first is ideal. Then, you can introduce yourself.
You hold people’s interest by:
- Making sure the content is relevant to your audience
- Providing information they don’t know
- Using the Tell ‘n’ Show (SM) method to communicate visually
- Interacting with the audience, including , answering questions, and asking questions
This is only a partial list! Try to think up some more ways to keep the attention of your audience.
Elicit desire by showing the audience how they can benefit and what your points mean to them. Highly sensoral images also help. If you have customer testimonials, use them.
At the end of your presentation, summarize what you’ve said and state your conclusion. Invite comments so that you have a chance to respond to any concerns. Finish by asking for the next step, whether it be signing a contract, approving a project, or setting up another meeting. Have the necessary materials (the contract, approval form, your calendar) so you can accomplish your goal.