“Sure,” you say, “I know that delivering valuable, informative, and engaging content is an excellent way to earn trust, increase credibility, and generate interest in my products and services … but, HOW DO I DO THAT?”

Last week, I had the pleasure of co-presenting with fellow Savvy Sister, Heather, at the 2010 iConnect conference sponsored by iLinc. Our topic was how to create engaging Webinars and then leverage the heck out of them – before, during, and after the live event. My piece of the presentation focused on how to build a great presentation. No pressure there. Today’s post is a quick recap of some of the key points. If you’d like more (including the chance to hear me go through 24 slides on the topic, despite being the oh-so-lucky recipient of my daughter’s vicious cold bug), you can cruise over to iLinc where our full 50-minute presentation (From Sale to Renewal: Leveraging Online Events to Improve Your Entire Customer Lifecycle )has been archived for your listening and viewing pleasure.

If you haven’t got time for that – here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

Important Things to Remember:

  • It’s NOT about you. It’s also not about your product, your services, your opinion, or your agenda. Ever. Your content must be about your audience’s needs – the challenges they face and the solutions that will help them conquer those challenges. Your content should prove to the reader that you get him. You really, really get him.
  • Put yourself in the role of teacher, not salesman. Become an advocate and ally. Make it clear that you are there to help by providing valuable information. Your job is to enable the listener to accomplish something she couldn’t accomplish before.

Content

  1. Build your content around the learning needs of your audience. These needs will vary depending upon the nature of your audience – prospects have different needs from new customers who have different needs from returning customers. Figure out what each group needs to know in order to deepen the relationship with your brand, and then deliver that content on a silver platter.
  2. Always remember the WIIFM rule: What’s in it for me? The ultimate goal of any marketing content is to inspire action. The ultimate question of any reader of such marketing content is to know how taking that desired action will make his life better. Don’t hide the answer. Talk less about the features of your products and services and more about the benefits. How will engaging your brand improve someone’s day-to-day life? That’s the sweet spot.
  3. Tactically:
  • One idea. People can only process so much information at once. Throw too much at them, and your audience will feel overwhelmed – or, worse, stupid. Keep it simple and focused. This will increase comprehension and inspire confidence.
  • Use visuals. Avoid death by PowerPoint by using images to increase the clarity and impact of your message. If one picture is worth a thousand words, you can save yourself a lot of typing! (Got 9 minutes and need a laugh – check out Don MacMillan’s Life After Death by Powerpoint … clever and informative!)
  • Embrace brevity. Your key points will jump off the page if you keep things short and sweet. Again – it’s about focusing the message, eliminating overwhelm, and making sure your audience “gets” those all important key concepts.

Engagement

  1. Be a real person. Part of your content’s job is to create connections with your audience. People connect with real people, not talking heads. Don’t be afraid to show some of your own personality. Some of the world’s finest teachers (Remember, you’re a teacher when you’re creating a Webinar!) use unorthodox techniques to reach their students.
  2. Tell Stories. Human experience is made up of stories. Telling and listening to stories is a natural way of assimilating our world. Whether sharing an anecdote, giving an example, or providing a case study; stories have big impact for two reasons: they are memorable, and that makes them repeatable. Tell a good story and not only will your audience remember it, they will share it.
  3. Invite dialog. Let your audience participate by creating a two-way conversation. In a Webinar format, you can leverage survey and polling tools or field questions in a live Q&A. Find ways to give your audience a voice and they will be a lot more apt to pay attention to what you are saying.

Presentation

  1. This is a performance. For inspiration, check out the archives of the TED conference – TED Talks. Great presenters who are passionate, funny, and know how to put on a good show while still delivering their message.
  2. Don’t read. For goodness sake – resist the temptation to read your presentation word for word. That sucks the life right out of things. Instead, deliver your content as though you’re having a one-on-one chat. It’s more intimate and personal, and the conversational cues in your voice will put the audience at ease and draw them in.
  3. Work as a team. Some of the most successful news, sports, and entertainment presenters work in teams. A variety of voices and perspectives not only spices things up for your audience, but can also give you the chance to engage in some witty banter that will humanize your presentation.
  4. Practice. Don’t step on stage cold. Rehearse your presentation for flow (sequence of information), timing (including tempo), interactivity (opportunities to engage the audience more deeply), and all the technical and administrative details that can trip you up at the last minute.

And now you want to know what’s in it for you if you put in all this hard work, right? Well, if you can teach instead of sell, connect with your audience, provide opportunities for audience participation, and – as a cherry on top – entertain, you will boost your credibility, connect on a deeper level with your audience, and inspire trust. When you’ve got those three things working for you – credibility, connection, and trust – you’ve’ made it easy for your audience to take the next step, whatever that might be.

Are you using live events like Webinars in your marketing mix? If not, how come? If you are, what tactics have been most successful for you?