Why An Audience Won’t Take Action

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Most (but not all) business presentations are about having people take action – getting them to do something after the presentation.  Things like buy your product, approve your project, give you a pay rise or promotion, all sorts of things.  If that is the case, then you need to consider what will stimulate them to say ‘yes’.

Now, this blog is filled with discussion on that topic but today, I am taking a different approach …why won’t they take action?  Well, there are 6 main categories, against which you will need to develop your content and structure from:

  1. It’s not in their self-interest: “If we adopt this proposal, you will all be retrenched” is not an argument that will win support, anywhere (well, unless the retrenchment package is very attractive). If you are seeking approval for works against the audience’s self-interest, it’s unlikely to gain approval.  If this is what you are proposing, you will need to somehow, reframe your request, if possible.
  2. They don’t understand you: If your presentation content can’t be followed by your audience, they won’t say yes. Human nature tells us when people are unsure they will always opt for the status quo. So, make sure the narrative of your presentation can be followed by the audience.
  3. They don’t believe you: This is so often overlooked in many presentations: how do I ensure the audience will believe what I say? There are a number of ways to ensure this and the more of these three things you have, the more people will believe you:

    1. Make sure you have plenty of credible, understandable evidence of your points.
    2. Establish yourself as a credible expert in the area that knows way more than they do about this topic.
    3. Get the support of others who know this subject and/or have testimonials from people supporting what you say.
  4. They don’t know what to do next: You have no idea how many presenters don’t make it easy for the audience to take action. It can be very simple: tell them what the next steps involve.  Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “So, in order to move this forward, we just need you to fill and sign this form…” or “Our engagement process looks like this…”.
  5. They haven’t bought your value proposition: Quite simply, they don’t consider what they receive is worth more than what they need to give up in exchange. They think it’s too expensive…but we are not just talking buyer’s here. Management decisions, for example, could be that the perceived risks don’t outweigh the reward.  You need to consider what you are offering against what they are wanting in exchange and ensure, to them, it looks attractive.
  6. They don’t have the money/not in the budget: This can be a slippery one. There are generally 2 main scenarios here.

    1. Sometimes it’s a way of communicating, in a nice way, any of the previous 5 points. In other words, they aren’t telling you the real reason.
    2. They literally don’t have the money. Everybody wants a Ferrari but most people don’t have the money.  If in the case they had the money they would genuinely proceed, it’s your job to help them find it!

So, next time you are preparing your presentation, look at the content and structure against these 6 key areas.

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