Sales Presentations: Are You Hot or What?


You are presenting to the most important customer. You have rehearsed it, and the slide deck uses large font and less than 7 words per bullet.  They love it. You rock. You are Hot!

Being able to deliver a good presentation is an important skill for a Salesperson. Sure. Now, have you thought about how engaging you presentations are? Beyond the basics, considering media and style based on your goals is what make sales presentations effective.

Sometimes Cool is better

In Understanding Media, Marshal McLuhan explains that media can demand different degrees of participation from the audience. He defines as “cool” medium the type that is open to participation and “hot” medium the type that is not.

For example, one can admire a realistic painting for its beauty or photographic-qualities, but the viewer does not need to make much effort filling in the details. The painting is complete; it calls for passive absorption. It is “Hot”.

Impressionist painters, on the other hand, attempt to capture the transient effects of sunlight (which cannot be done literally on canvas). Perceiving the mood of the scene requires interpretation of broken brushstrokes. Compared to Realists, Impressionists are more open-ended, they need active participation from the viewer, they are “Cool”.

Want it Hot? Use PowerPoint. Want it Cool? Leave the projector behind.

McLuhan also said “The Medium is the Message”.  Content is important, but the medium defines the character of engagement. In order to change the communication dynamics, one must consider changing the medium itself.

For example, motion pictures or PowerPoint slides are Hot Media and lead to more closed communication. Twitter, on the other hand, is Cool Media, good for interaction, but not the right medium to convey structured and well-formed ideas.

Why is it important for people in business to think about Hot and Cool Media?

  1. Consider your Goals – If you are at the first stages of a sales engagement with a prospect and want to qualify the opportunity and discover requirements, you want the customer to talk. You want to use Cool Media (e.g. set a roundtable, be conversational, use blank sheets of paper). If you are closing the deal and consciously want to control the agenda and conduct the audience to the close, be Hot (use a rich slide presentation, provide data, saturate their senses).
  2. Consider your Audience – There is a new generation ascending to business and, for the next couple of decades, there will be a trend towards Cool, participative communication. Social media will gain priority over print and newspaper ads. Presentations will be less effective than interactive conversations. A seminar or round table is preferred over a lecture. Facebook and Twitter become marketer’s media.

So are you Cool or what?

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