Effective Business Presentations - Show and Touch

Effective business presentations help clients and prospects see, feel, and get in touch with solutions. Yes, you're already familiar with 'show and tell.' But what about 'show and touch'? In my training seminars on presentation skills, I often teach subject matter experts how to do this. And, believe me -- it isn't always easy. One of the big points of resistance I get is showing and touching.

You see, many experts fervently believe things such as:

• The data tells the story

• More data tells a better story

• Facts and numbers tell the story

• Advice should be supported with written data

Notice how 'showing and touching' are absent in these belief statements.

So you can imagine, the kind of resistance I face when nudging people away from telling, telling, telling.

Why is telling such a bad idea?

When you 'tell' your clients and prospects about your solution, you are talking at them. Even if you are sharing awesome facts and phenomenal content, you're still giving a one-directional data dump. This is a far cry from having an interactive conversation.

By 'telling' your audience everything, you only reinforce the feelings and thoughts they might be having. Things that they would never say directly to you. I'm just taking a wild stab at the nature of some of these internal meanderings:

• This guy is an arrogant know-it-all

• I've heard it all before

• I never have a chance to ask MY questions

• I don't see what this has to do with my job

If instead, you show your solution -- and let your audience touch a prototype, you shift the nature of the discussion. Instead of talking at your audience, you're guiding interaction.

Often when participants see, feel, and connect with your solution, they will speak up. They'll contribute interesting bits of information. They'll share personal stories that can shed light on a usability issue. For instance, how this solution will help them save time, reduce redundant activities, or get more done for less cost.

And here's the best part: they will tell you these things using a simple, commonsense, and down-to-earth language. This is incredibly valuable for communicating to your target group. It also gives you enormous leverage to connect with other groups in similar industries or positions.

I coach a lot of sales professionals who are using prototypes and demos to build persuasive presentations. Initially some sales teams struggle with this shift from telling to showing.

The reason is simple. When you tell, you're in control. When you use 'show and touch,' you're facilitating. This requires a different skill set and delivery style. Instead of using a directive presentation style, you need to be more facilitative.

In a new home study course on visual storytelling, you can find this systematically broken down into step-by-step blueprints.

Right now, here's a simplified method for you to 'grab-and-use.'

1. Show your solution. If possible use a physical model or prototype your audience can see.

2. Encourage touching. Get participants up out of their seats. Provide time to touch, interact with, and get a hang of how things work.

Not so hard, right?

Show and touch.

As virtual communication increases, this is a very valuable concept to keep in play. Show the picture, map, or model. Encourage touching. This makes concepts, ideas, and proposals much more concrete.

Fuzzy ideas become tangible. This is a crucial step for encouraging your audience to discuss proposals and buy-in to your solution. While this topic is hot in your mind, write down your ideas. Use this method in your next presentation. You'll be much more persuasive -- without having to be pushy. Show and touch.


Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentatio...

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