How can you create persuasive presentations that help you connect with your target audience? Here’s a five-step model I call the TEMPTaction model. It’s created based on an understanding of persuasion, great public-speaking delivery and communication principles. Let’s take a deeper look.
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The first “T” in TEMPTaction stands for touch. This doesn’t mean you need to physically reach out and touch your customers — it means you need to metaphorically touch them with your communication. People make decisions based on emotion. If there’s no emotional connection, they’re not likely to act. If they don’t see your reasoning or a need to act, people won’t decide.
Another way to think of touch is to think of hugging people with your words. You need to communicate in a way that makes people feel embraced by your message. They need to feel engaged listening to you, they need to trust you and they need to be able to take comfort in what you’re saying. When people are relaxed and not on guard, they’re more likely to be open to your messaging and your requests for action.
This metaphorical idea of touch is often best demonstrated by tying in analogies, metaphors and storytelling, and by making a direct connection to a person’s life or situation. And the bigger your audience is, the more important it is to think of the common communication denominators. This way you’re letting each audience member decide for themselves how to relate to your content, and they can pull in an experience from their life to make that connection. Let me share a story about a persuasive conversation that made a meaningful connection to me (and my bank account).
I’ve talked to a handful of financial planners in my life, and the one I chose is the person who sat me down in a room and asked, “Jill, what does money mean to you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Let’s pretend you had all the money you needed to take care of all your bills, pay off the house, pay your health expenses, etc. Let’s say you didn’t have to stress about money in this way. What does money mean to you?”
With my response, we started a conversation about how I like to give back to the community, my philanthropic activities and projects I’d like to do that money would allow me to execute. We talked about how I want to travel more and take at least one longer international vacation each year.
Unlike other planners I’d spoken to, he didn’t have me look at money in the past or money in the future — in terms of where I’d like to end up during retirement, or what I need to leave behind after death (not such a pleasant thought). Instead, he first wanted to get a solid understanding of what money meant to me in my life. He made a personal and emotional connection.
From that, he was able to assess my values. Based on those values, he prescribed what he thought was the appropriate amount of risks for my investments, etc., which is what a financial planner does. But he did it with my personal goals in mind.
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What he did that caught my attention was make it personal. He demonstrated that he really cared about what money enables me to do in my life. Instead of simply saying, “What number do you want to reach?” he positioned the goal in a different way: “Let’s say you reach that number: What is that going to look like, and how is that going to manifest in your life?” That was much more personal than, “Oh, we’ll get you to a million dollars by the time you’re 40.”
Instead, he focused on the value it would bring, the benefits and results that would come from reaching a monetary goal. He positioned it as “Here’s what it’s going to enable you to do,” and that was more important for me.
That is a prime example of hugging with words, and of providing the metaphorical touch in a persuasive presentation or conversation.
The “E” in TEMPTaction stands for eye contact. Eye contact is the number-one conveyor of honesty in the United States. If you’re going to persuade somebody to act, you have to establish a comfortable rapport with your eyes. If somebody doesn’t trust you, or feels you’re being dishonest, they’re not going to act, decide or buy. If you’re communicating via video, natural eye contact is also important.
The “M” stands for movement. You need to incorporate movement into your speech or presentation if you want to persuade people. Movement isn’t only about the physical space and positioning of the body, but also the idea of moving people from one point to another. You must demonstrate that your product or service can move someone from their current position to a better position. When your request has that capability to move someone to a better position, or change the status quo in a positive way, it’s more likely to produce an action. If you’ve already established a solid sense of touch, this movement will be more about the information and executory practices of your proposal.
In a physical sense, when it comes to your delivery, movement means you’re transitioning your body through space with a purpose. You’re not interacting with slides or other presentation tools. You’ve eliminated nonverbal barriers, such as podiums, conference tables or inappropriate use of a power stance (like standing to give a presentation when there are only five other people in the room). You’re using movement to transition your audience from point to point. Your stance shifts in major transitions. You use your body to gesture and indicate different aspects of the presentation. Your movements have a purpose, and aren’t just flighty, twitchy or nervous jitters.
The “P” stands for paralanguage, which is everything other than your words and presentation. This is your rate, tone, and pitch. The rate is the speed at which you speak. The tone is the relative volume of your voice — are you loud or soft? The pitch is the natural highness or lowness of your voice — think high notes and low notes.
People need to feel an emotional connection between you, your product and their situation in order to act. If you want to drive people to action and your business, you need to make sure your voice conveys emotion. This also applies to text-based communication.
Let’s go back more than a decade to when I did my graduate research on how people expressed nonverbal communication and paralanguage in written messages online. It was one of the first works published about the use of signifiers in online and computer-mediated communication. The idea that one could nonverbally communicate without being visually or auditorially present was rejected by many academics at the time.
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I argued that paralanguage, in terms of written messaging, is demonstrated with the use of signifiers and emoticons (those things we now call emojis). Signifiers are the changes you make to text, such as boldface, italics, bulleted lists and appropriate use of white space. The use of these communicates nonverbally through text.
See? These persuasive strategies can apply to any communication — written or spoken.
The final “T” stands for training. This is where you practice your delivery, get feedback from relevant audiences and implement that feedback and change into your next iteration. This is also where you use activities to practice your presentation, such as audio and video recordings.
When it comes to persuasive communication, training also involves gathering data on the success of your presentations and conversion rates. Did you get the actions you intended?
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