Robert Terson

I’ve done some motivational speaking in my time. Actually, quite a lot of it; we all need to be inspired from time to time. It moves us to recharge, gets our juices flowing, pushes us off dead center to go full throttle again.

But all the motivation in the world isn’t going to help if you can’t deliver a decent presentation. Someone recently asked me: What’s the best way to develop a transcendent presentation? This is how I replied:

First, you need to know every aspect of your business, and the selling condition, as it specifically relates to your business. You must have every aspect of your presentation down pat, including the rebuttals to every possible objection you’re going to encounter.

Then comes the polishing, and the best way I know how to polish a presentation to transcendence is by hours and hours of role-play. For some sad reason, most salespeople rebel at roleplaying. All of a sudden they’re rolling their eyes, begging off, saying things like, “This is fine for some people, but I really don’t need this.” They speak in Awe-like terms of Michael Jordan, who was dedicated to practice as passionately as Socrates was to asking questions; but it’s Allen Iverson and his famous ridiculous rant about practice that they’re behaving like.

There is no substitute for experience, and the best way to gain valuable presentation experience, outside of delivering a real live presentation itself, is by role-play practice with your peers. You pair up like students in a karate class and work with each other until you’re so tired you’re ready to fall flat on your face. Then you role-play some more.

If you can get a third party to oversee the roleplaying process, so much the better. I’ve worked with salespeople for hours on end, perfecting, massaging, polishing until every accent on every word was dynamically perfect. So perfect that their colleagues found it difficult to believe it was the same individuals they were listening to.

In Chapter 40 of Selling Fearlessly, “Delivery,” I said this: Delivery is two-thirds of the presentation. A third-rate presentation delivered by a master is normally more effective than a transcendent presentation delivered by an amateur. Words without inflection, tone of voice, confidence, and enthusiasm are like calculus lectures: boring. Put them all together and you have the Voice of Authority.

More than anything else, roleplaying will give you that Voice of Authority. Grab some peers, start practicing, start roleplaying. Keep at it until your presentation is a sparkling blue-white diamond. You’re going to thank me for suggesting it—I promise!


Get your free Preview of Selling Fearlessly’s Chapter 1 here.