Effective Presentations Require Powerful Packaging

present1Packaging often impacts how the contents are received. I learned this basic principle of marketing at a young age. For my 10th birthday, my parents organized a party at a local pizzeria. Fifteen of my closest friends were invited. My friend Sharon arrived with a lovely, colorfully wrapped box decorated in frilly ribbon. I don’t even remember what the gift was, but I vividly remember the joy I felt and the smile on my face at the sight of the beautifully packaged gift in her tiny hands. My friend Missy then arrived, proudly displaying a gift she’d obviously wrapped herself — most likely in 15 seconds and blindfolded.

When it came time to open the gifts, which do you think I opened first, and which do you think I opened last?

While most of us adults would like to think we can see beyond the package to the substance within, marketing research confirms packaging does in fact impact how we perceive what’s within the package.

How many of you are bothered when you go to a nice restaurant, and the meal arrives at your table looking like it had been thrown onto the plate from across the room? Fine chefs recognize that plate presentation enhances the total dining experience and “sells” the cuisine.

Skilled presenters understand this concept as well. While packaging can influence how the audience hears and sees the message, it also can impact the audience’s ability to access the message.

For example, I recently purchased a new headset for my phone. After 10 minutes of stressful scissoring and several cuts on my hands, I determined that opening the package required a chainsaw. By the time I gained access to my precious headset, I wasn’t in a pleasant mood and swore the next time I made such a purchase it would be from a different manufacturer.

While most see presentation packaging as delivery style, dress, gestures, and visual elements such as PowerPoint, presentation packaging begins much earlier. It actually begins when you outline your presentation.

The three biggest packaging mistakes presenters make that limit audience access:

1. Disorganization: Clear and simple structure is even more important in verbal communication than in written communication, because it enables your audience to follow along more easily. Unlike written communication, your audience does not have the ability to flip back to an earlier concept if they get lost.

Once they are unclear, you lose them. Once you lose your audience, you lose credibility. Once you lose credibility, your audience does not hear what you have to say.

I’ve often heard it said, “A confused mind always says no.” If you’re giving sales presentations that lack solid structure and organization, you’re losing business.

2. Failure to pay attention to the opening and closing: The first and last impressions you make are critical. Your introduction sets the tone for the rest of your presentation. If you fail to close powerfully, and with a clear call to action, you lose impact.

Therefore your introduction and conclusion should be compelling and intentional.

Additionally, they serve as the frame, or context, in which your content is housed. Have you ever noticed that a picture frame can bring out certain elements of the picture encased within it? On some occasions, it can completely alter how we see the picture.

The same can be said of how you frame your presentation. People make presentations for a variety of reasons: to inform, to persuade, to sell, to teach. How you frame your presentation can instantly shift it from an informative one to a persuasive one.

3. All features, no benefits: Nothing makes an audience more frustrated than a presenter who clearly has no sense of what they care about. A presentation to sell or influence a decision should be strategically designed to connect what you offer to what matters to your client.

Here’s an example:

Company feature: We have the most modern and reliable equipment in the industry.

Client need: Tight schedule, limited budget.

Reframe with benefit: When equipment goes down, it results in costly delays which can take your project off schedule. However, you won’t worry about that by selecting us. Compared to our competitors, we have the youngest, most modern equipment in the Phoenix area. Less down-time and costly delays mean we can better maintain your schedule and budget.

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