How many presentations have you sat through where the first words out of the presenter’s mouth were something like this “My name is Susie Sales Lady and I have been selling lemonade for 10 years. I started my lemonade business because when I was 6 years old I had a lemonade stand and I am absolutely passionate about lemonade…”  And exactly how long did it take you to yawn, check your watch, and start daydreaming about all the things you should be doing?

Droning on about yourself in the first few seconds of a presentation is one of the fastest ways to lose an audience. Unfortunately, they don’t really care about you; you’re just another stranger who likes to talk about herself.

As business owners, marketers, and professionals most of us, at some point, have to get up in front of an audience to talk about our businesses. If you’re lucky enough to have a captive audience for more than two seconds you need to grab their attention immediately or risk losing them – and I’m sorry to tell you, you aren’t going to impress them with your life story right off the bat (unless you have a really amazing life story!).  We don’t know you. You’re just a guy who wants something from us, so why should we care that at eight years old you just knew you were meant to fix cars, do taxes, or sell Mary Kay?

The bottom line is you are there to sell something. Maybe not that day, but at some point you probably want that audience to interact with you in some way.  So you need to get their attention immediately. Are you really going to do that by boring them with your life story when you haven’t even given them a reason to care about you yet? No!

There’s only one thing an audience cares about – What are you going to do for them?  How are you going to make them happier, smarter, sexier, skinnier, richer, or what problem will you solve for them.  You need to speak to their needs, wants, and desires – not yours!

Good presenters live by one rule: the WIIFM rule – the key to every human’s heart (and wallet) is “What’s In It For Me?” You see, as human beings, all we really want to know is, “what can you do for me?”  Especially if you’re a stranger – and a million times especially –  if you’re a stranger who is going to try to sell me something.

So the key to an effective presentation is to immediately hook them with the WIFFM statement. Grab their attention right away by speaking to their want or need and then tell them how you are going to solve it! THEN, and only then, can you tell the audience why you’re qualified to solve that problem or need for them – this is where you can talk about your lifelong passion and experience.  Now you have their interest, now they care! But talking about yourself first is a surefire way to lose them… maybe for good!

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

AvatarCarolyn Higgins

Carolyn Higgins is the President and founder of Fortune Marketing Company. Her personal mission is to help small businesses stop wasting money on advertising and promotions that don’t deliver and help business owners implement an effective marketing system that will bring in more customers—consistently. For more information about Fortune Marketing Company visit the Fortune Marketing Company website or blog.