Chris Merrington, conference speaker and author, on telling your audience what they need to know, not everything you know.
Charles Dickens must have attended a few events in his day. In his novel A Tale of Two Cities, he wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...”
I think sometimes that this can apply to events. Do events always live up to their ‘great expectations’?
Events are expensive and time consuming for everyone involved; for the organisers and for the attendees. It is my belief that often more thought needs to go into the planning and preparation of an event to ensure it provides great ROI for both the organisers and also for the attendees.
If the objective is to sell at an event then let’s track sales after the event and measure what ROI we’ve achieved. We then need to think about what needs to happen to improve the ROI the following year. How can we sell even more effectively the following year?
Working at an event or exhibition as a sales person isn’t a bit of a holiday or a jolly – you’re there to meet new and existing customers. You’re there to sell and help customers to buy. It’s not an opportunity to check your emails or worse, your Facebook or play Candy Crush. You’re here to work. Take time to craft your opening line to entice a prospective customer to engage with you.
I speak at events and conferences and also work with sales teams to help them sell and negotiate more effectively and more profitably. There are some wonderful techniques to help sales teams be more effective and increase their sales revenue.
I have spoken at numerous conferences, events and seminars in the UK, Europe and the USA and so I wanted to share the mistakes I’ve seen.
Here are a couple of common mistakes I have come across made by event and conference organisers:
Lack of clarity or purpose
Given the investment required for most events, it is critical to be clear on why we are holding it in the first place and what you want to happen afterwards.
Is it for the sales team to improve their selling technique or senior management to share the future direction of their business or to provide and share new information? Or is it to motivate an audience and give them a renewed vigour?
Decide what the goal(s) should be. What changes in behaviour by the audience do you want as a result of the event? What actions do you want them to take? How will you know if the event has been a success?
Poor slides, overuse of Powerpoint
If you are going to use Powerpoint then make sure the speakers have great slides and not too many slides.
Poor lighting or inadequate power in the projector can ruin even good slides. Ideally don’t use slides, speak from the heart to really engage your audience.
Monologue or dialogue
When speakers and sales people speak at their audience or prospective customers, they are more likely to switch off. I believe in not presenting but having a conversation, a two- way conversation. This is far more engaging and authentic. A monologue leaves the listener feeling like they’re being lectured.
The complete works of Shakespeare in 48 minutes.
Tell your audience, your customer, your prospect what they need to know, not everything you know. Trying to cover too much is a common problem. Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Chris Merrington speaks at conferences and runs Masterclasses on Negotiation, Pricing and Trusted Adviser Selling, and is the author of Why Do Smart People Make Such Stupid Mistakes? — a practical negotiation guide to more profitable client relationships.