Persuasive Presentations

What's Your Presentation Worth?


It doesn't matter whether it's a raise, a promotion, or a large capital expenditure. Public speaking pays. Are you losing money every time you speak? Do you know why? You can be dressed to the nines, but a Brooks Brothers suit won't help if your presentation doesn't match your million dollar look. I remember the first time I met Cathy (not her real name). Her manager, a Vice-President, called me in to coach her. Cathy was having difficulty getting promoted.

When I met Cathy, I was surprised. She could have been on the cover of Forbes magazine. Cathy exuded executive presence visually. The challenge was when she presented her ideas to senior management, she immediately lost credibility. By not presenting a strong recommendation, and using uptalk and wimpy words, Cathy's value was diminished. As a result of my coaching, she learned to speak powerfully and was promoted to VP. Now that's a return on investment.

Another client of mine was a CEO of a multi national healthcare company. His challenge was to convince management to invest in a  $300 million facility in Europe. It would take 5 years from beginning construction to licensed facility. Clinical trials for a vaccine were 3 years away. This was an investment with high risk. He didn't even know if the vaccine would work. The CEO's presentation had to be clear, understandable, and effective in persuading management that the risk was worth it. The CEO got the funding. The facility was built. The product sold over $1 billion per year.

He said, “Without that presentation and convincing the executive committee to invest, we wouldn’t have the product.” That's MAJOR ROI!

Speaking leads to influence and influence leads to success. It's about how you articulate your value. How much money is left on the table due to a weak presentation?  A family member worked for a doctor's office handling insurance claims. She wanted a raise but wasn't having success. She realized the claims were being denied because they contained the wrong codes.

So she diligently nudged the doctors to apply the correct codes and helped them to do just that. The result was that fewer claims were being rejected. I howled, "You mean to tell me they are collecting on more claims because of you? You're directly impacting their bottom line! You're increasing their cash flow! Tell them that." She did, and she got her raise. Again, there is an ROI from effective presentations.

It doesn't matter whether you seek a raise, a promotion, or approval on a large capital expenditure: public speaking pays. The payoffs for you, the speaker, are increasing sales, earning a raise, getting a promotion, receiving investor capital, and more. And when you have excellent presentation skills you may even be paid to speak. Ka Ching Ka Ching.

Are you in the middle of a merger? Are you launching a new product? Do you have to give a presentation to your sales force?  You won't have a second chance. When your presentation is make or break, contact DiResta Communications, Inc.

5 Presentation Mistakes When Pitching for Business

Speaking is the new competitive advantage. What makes your product or service stand out in a sea of commodities is your presentation. Don't lose out because of these presentation mistakes:


  1. Rambling Elevator Speech. If you can't say what you do, for whom, and how they benefit in one minute, your message is too long. The buyer doesn't want to listen to a story. Once your listeners tune out (and they will), you will lose the opportunity to close the sale. The key to a good elevator pitch is focus.
  2. Thick PowerPoint Deck. Unless you're writing legislation, your PowerPoint deck should take 15 minutes to deliver. The reason it takes longer is that there are too many pages and you're probably reading the slides. Summarize what's on the slide and tell the story behind the numbers. You'll fail to win business if all you do is read a list of numbers on a page.
  3. Failure to Listen. More than anything else, listening is the key to winning business. You learn the customer's needs by listening. You develop relationships and show you care by listening. Listening helps you to ask the right questions. Too many people try to pitch rather than question and listen. Use the 70/30 rule. 70% of the time the customer is speaking and 30% of the time you're speaking.
  4. Speaker-Centered.Being speaker-centered is related to the failure to listen and this presentation approach happens before you meet the buyer. Too many pitches and presentations are organized from the speaker's point of view. Nobody cares about your product or service. They care about their own self interests. So create a listener-centered presentation that leads with what the buyer cares about and how your solutions will solve their problem. Talk benefits, not features.
  5. Lack of Confidence. A great pitch deck with amazing visuals won't win the sale if you don't speak with conviction, enthusiasm and confidence. When you walk into the meeting do you own the room? Are you confident enough to go where the buyer wants to go or do you rigidly stick to the script? Research demonstrates that confidence trumps competence. Prepare and practice. Acknowledge your expertise, breathe, relax, and relate. Remember, the first sale is to yourself.




As an investor, what is the worst presentation that you have seen?


David Rose is my guest blogger. I thought as an angel investor, he has some valuable tips for entrepreneurs who want to successfully pitch to investors. By  / January 19th, 2014

I’ve written on this topic previously, including David S. Rose’s answer to Startups: What is the worst startup pitch ever? While I’ve never laughed outright during a pitch, I’ve certainly had quite a few occasions where I had to work hard not to wince. The problems with bad pitches tend to fall into the following major categories:

  1. The content is just bad, off-base or not thought-through
  2. Slides or other visuals are poorly executed, amateurish, confusing and counter-productive
  3. The presenter is not a naturally talented speaker, has never been taught how to present, and/or hasn’t practiced the presentation

Blowing only one of the three generally merits the presenter at least a respectful response and discussion (although if it’s a case of #1, then there obviously will not be an investment.) The problem comes when someone blows two, or even all three. That’s when it gets really wince-worthy and painful for the audience. As an example, take a look at this presentation, which is really pretty bad across the board:

As for embarrassing moments, the one that takes the cake was several years ago when an attractive woman CEO was pitching to a group I was in, and during the presentation she accidentally knocked off her own hairpiece. To her credit, she smoothly continued as if nothing had happened, and eventually got the investment! What was interesting was that (a) it was a small hairpiece, (b) it was at the back of her head, and (c) guys are notoriously unobservant, so because she handled it so professionally…the majority of men in the room were not aware of the mishap!

*original post can be found on Quora @ *

Click here to see more from David Rose.

How to Influence in 19 Seconds

Last week, during my seminar, Meet to Present, my client took me aside and pointed to one of the participants. "Do you know who he is?" she whispered.

"No, but he looks familiar," I said. "Who is he?"

"He played Mikey in the Life Cereal commercial," she revealed.

"I love that commercial!", I squealed. "Mikey was so cute".

If you're a baby boomer who grew up in the U.S., you saw the commercial about Life Cereal. Years later, people remember this commercial even though it's only 19 seconds in length. It first played in 1972 and was one of the longest, continuously running commercials.  In 1999, TV Guide rated it as one of the top 10 commercials and in a survey 70% of adults could identify it.

So what does this commercial teach us about public speaking success and influence?

The message tells a story. There are no statistics, no lecturing. The audience watches two brothers reject the "healthy" cereal they think isn't good enough to eat. The brothers call in Mikey to be the guinea pig. To their surprise he likes it.

The message is simple and clear. This is a tasty cereal that's good for you. Yet nobody ever says that.

The messenger is memorable. The commercial ends with "Hey Mikey." People remember the last thing they hear and that's why to this day the audience remembers Mikey's name.

The message is replayed. It's not enough to speak once or twice. To make the message land, savvy speakers tell their signature stories. They present their message frequently to many audiences through different media.

Like television ads, a speech or presentation must tell a good story. The ad took 19 seconds to tell the story and sell the message.

How long does the average speaker take to give a presentation? What if you had only 19 seconds? How would you tell your story? Would it be memorable?

For a trip down memory lane, here is Mikey's Life cereal commercial:

How One Presentation Turned Into $7,500

walking away from moneyHow much is your presentation worth? If you're not speaking with power and confidence, you're losing money. There is an ROI to your presentation. A few months ago, I met with a coaching prospect and presented myself and my services. He recently confided that he had interviewed a number of coaches before selecting me. He said that I was the most professional, I had a game plan, and I told him the truth about his coaching needs. Some coaches were dressed too casually. Some said they would do whatever he wanted when he asked them about their approach. He didn't feel confident about their services. I closed the sale with one meeting - with one presentation.

People think of public speaking as having intangible benefits - you make people feel good, you get a message across, maybe someone feels inspired. But if you're not selling a product or service, you may think there is no tangible value.

In beauty pageants, the interview is weighted at 40% of the score. The contestant's ability to present herself well yields thousands of dollars in scholarship money. That's tangible.

When you're interviewing for a job, your resume gets you in the door. Your presentation is what gets you the job. The ROI on that presentation is equal to the salary you're offered.

Your ability to sell yourself and your value gives you an extra edge when you get a raise and get promoted. Figure out how much of an increase you'll get, and that is the ROI of your presentation.

Speaking is not a soft skill. It's a powerful leadership skill and can no longer be avoided. You don't have to be a professional speaker to gain financially from your presentation.

How much is your speaking worth?