Don’t Just Inform — Persuade

The August/September issue of SUCCESS Magazine showed up in my mailbox yesterday.  As usual, I dropped what I was doing and paged through it.  I’m taking it with me today on a trip to Florida to celebrate my niece, Morgan’s, engagement.   I’ll read it cover to cover and make notes as I read.

I love SUCCESS Magazine.  Have you subscribed yet?  If not, you should.  I haven’t found a better source of content on career and life success. 

One article jumped out at me, as I always post about communication on Thursday.  The article is called “Are You Drowning Your Prospects?”  It’s written by Terri Sjodin, author of “New Sales Speak.”  Ms. Sjodin makes a great point about presentations – “don’t be informative, be persuasive.’

Presentation skills, along with writing and conversation skills, are the three keys to becoming a dynamic communicator.  Ms. Sjodin provides some great common sense advice on how you can become a great presenter.

Here’s some of the great common sense advice Ms. Sjodin presents:

  • “Every solid presentation requires a certain amount of data and support, but many professionals spend too much time informing and not enough time persuading.”
  • “It’s a teacher’s job to be informative, while a salesperson must be persuasive.”
  • “Focus on the most compelling argument with each customer or client.”
  • “Design a presentation that anticipates common objections and overcomes them before they become reasons not to buy.”
  • “Don’t just wing it; think through your strategy and build a compelling case and then deliver it with savvy in your own authentic voice.”

Ms. Sjodin is writing to a sales audience, but she provides great advice for all of us.  Your job title may not be “salesperson,” but if you want to succeed in your life and career, you need to be constantly selling yourself and your ideas.

How do you go about selling your ideas?  Please leave a comment.  Share your secrets with the rest of us.

I particularly the fifth point above – especially, “DON’T WING IT!!!”  I put this advice in all caps because I’ve found that preparation is the key to making a dynamic presentation.  If you’re prepared, you’ll do a good job.  It’s as simple as that.  If you’re not prepared, you might get by once or twice, but in the long run your lack of preparation will catch up with you.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are dynamic communicators.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to become and excellent conversationalist, a clear and succinct writer and a persuasive presenter.  When you’re giving a presentation, don’t overwhelm the audience with data.  Instead, make a compelling argument that makes your case.  And, most important — prepare, prepare, prepare.  As one of my first mentors always said, “Preparation makes up for a lack of talent.”  If you are talented, preparation will take you even further than talent alone.

That’s my take on persuasive presentations and preparing for them.  What’s yours?  As always, I’m interested in your perspective on these thoughts.  I welcome and appreciate your comments.  Thanks for reading.


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  1. I’m amazed at the number of professionals (both sales and otherwise) who prefer to “wing it” rather than prepare and rehearse their presentation.
    You’ve hit the nail right on the head… preparation is the KEY to a successful presentation. Your mentor was a wise presentor!

  2. Thanks a lot for the comment. And you’re right — way too many people wing it. Preparation is the key to success — not just in presentations, but in life.
    Thanks again for the comment. I really appreciate it.

  3. Even when I was a cop, I would read articles on sales. Everyone is a sales person, even if you’re just trying to sell the idea of seeing a new movie with your friends.

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