This article was written by Kwame Christain via Forbes.com
With over 25 years of experience in sales and presentation management, James Ontra has established himself as a dynamic leader in the fields of strategy, technical development, and entrepreneurship. As the CEO of Shufflrr, a company that specializes in presentation management software, Ontra’s expertise is helping businesses and professionals ensure that their digital presentations are optimally designed to drive connection and results.
Ontra provides an overview of presentation management and advises on how companies can harness the art of storytelling to become more persuasive in sales negotiations.
What is Presentation Management
Simply put, Ontra describes presentation management as “a form of content management where every file is formatted to present.” With software like Shufflrr, companies can store and organize all their digital content (photos, videos, data) in a central location – which offers a more streamlined system for company-wide access and continuity. All this content can then be translated to slides, which can be organized by theme, which ensures that any and everybody conducting sales presentations has access to a comprehensive slide deck.
“Think of Amazon but for slides; but if all of those slides were on point for your company.” Ontra explains. “Think of how easy it would be to put together a presentation.”
Beyond organization, presentation management ultimately becomes a marketing tool that allows for a higher-level of engagement with potential clients. How so? With a robust deck of slides (that contains any presentation ever done at said company), presenters increase the odds of producing a slide that will appeal to a potential client’s needs or interests.
Ontra elaborates on how this management system improves outcomes in sales presentations, “[With software like Shufflrr], my presentation is following the conversation, not forcing the conversation, which is a critical to closing the sale.”
The Power of Storytelling in Sales & Negotiations
According to Ontra, storytelling begins and ends with one critical element: emotional connection.
“Take your first step to connect emotionally with your audience,” he shares. “[After] you’ve properly connected, they will dig out the data and reinforce what you’re saying in their own head.” Essentially, Ontra argues that once that emotional connection has been made, people are more likely to buy into the presentation and find ways to reinforce what you’re saying.
The trick? To think of each presentation as a story and each slide as a scene. Exceptional presenters will look for ways to evoke emotion and drive connection in their slides – using strategically placed content. One way to start is to think of a pain point your audience can resonate with and import an image or video that emotionally connects them with that challenge.
“Start with emotion,” Ontra emphasizes. “Once you are connected then you can go into logic and reason.”
He recommends starting simple because unlike complex pitches, a straightforward approach can be easily understood and ultimately leads to trust. Once some form of commonality has been established, presenters can proceed to the more technical elements of the pitch.
The Biggest Takeaway
For Ontra, successful storytelling in presentations can come down to one question.
“How would you make someone smile?”
Nowadays, the human brain is conditioned to process thousands of images in a short period of time – just imagine how much content you consume in two minutes of scrolling on social media. This means your audience is likely to lose interest if a presentation is too text heavy. To counter this effect, incorporate images and animation with emotional appeal.
“If you can take people through different emotions on your slides- they will feel like they went on a journey.” He notes. “So be mindful of where you are bringing somebody on your journey.”