At the end of the day, one part of your sales presentation is more important than the visual aids, the movement, the gestures, the voice modulation and the words. In fact, it's more important than all of them put together.
It's the most powerful presentation tool in the world. It's the one aspect of presenting that seems to be ignored by politicians and business people alike. And it's overlooked by the vast majority of training companies. It's contact.
And it refers to that moment when the speaker and listener feel like they are the only two people in the room. When something the speaker has said - combined with the way it's said - touches a core feeling or belief within a listener. When the presenter sees the words hit home and knows that the effect is powerful. That is contact.
Many politicians are noticeably bad. They still seem to fall for the belief that they are talking to an audience en masse, rather than understanding that the only thing that matters is making contact with each individual in the audience.
They still think that it's natural to talk to a group of people, to a wall at the back of a hall, or to notes on a lectern.
This misconception is reflected in eye contact that scans the room, but never stops on one individual. It's reflected in the fixing of the eyes on one point in the room, and poor use of notes, handled in a way that underscores the fact that he or she is reading.
Technology often makes matters worse. Hundreds of complex Power Point slides are unlikely to help you connect with your listeners. Getting over-technical with a business audience is not likely to help either.
The result is that members of the client team you're presenting to do not feel involved.
Why should they when nobody is actually speaking to them in a way they can relate to?
So, how can you achieve contact with each listener in the room? Here are some tips to help you along the road to becoming a truly powerful speaker.
Know what's in their hearts and minds and tap into them. What feelings and beliefs exist that you can bring to the surface and address?
Set out to change each person. Ask yourself, `What do I want these people to do at the end of the presentation?' Not what you want them to think, but what you want them to do as a result of what you say.
Collect only the evidence - statistics, facts, examples, testimonials, case studies, anecdotes - that will prove to the listeners the importance of your product or service to their company.
Put those words in a structure that will grab the hearts and minds of each listener early in the sales presentation, and will then take them on a journey that will change the way they think. That's your preparation out of the way. Now focus on delivery.
Don't scan the room with your eyes. Talk to each individual in the room, one at a time. Speak a complete thought to one person then give another thought to someone else. Cover the room in this manner, but speak as if you were only speaking to one person at a time.
If you have to use notes, have them laid out in a way that puts a complete thought on each line. When you pause to look down for the next line, that pause will occur when you would normally take a breath - at a time when there would normally be a comma, dash, full stop or semicolon. In this way, with practice, delivery will be smooth and notes will not distract your audience.
When you want to make a point, emphasise it clearly, so the client knows it's important. Raise your voice, lower your voice, slow it down, speed it up, but show the listener that this is a key point.
Turn your body so that the client knows you are addressing them. Face them and make eye contact - not for a split second on the way to somewhere else, but for the entire thought.
Use the pause with comfort. It adds dimension to the presentation as powerful as the strongest adjective.
Try these in your next sales presentation. You will feel the power increase and listeners will start to react to you in a very positive way.
Jeff Sheard is sales director for Asia-Pacific of Rogen International. Reach Rogen at www.rogen.com.au