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If your puzzled about how to make an effective presentation, the good news is that all the information you need probably is already at your fingertips. The better news is that it may just be that your presentation is upside down.

Does this sound familiar? In the first slide after your title slide, you show a picture of your corporate headquarters with all the great statistics listed alongside it: how many years you’ve been in business, how many customers you serve, your company’s stock symbol if it’s public, the number of employees and last year’s sales.

Next is perhaps a slide featuring your products. Then there’s a slide with the logos of some of your customers.

Here’s the big question you haven’t asked yourself: Who Cares?

First, tell customers why they should care. At the outset of your presentation, if you think about it, there is really no good reason why your audience should care about your company’s vital statistics, where you’re located or what your products are.

At the outset of your presentation, there is only one thing you can be certain that everybody in your audience truly cares about—what’s in it for them? What do you provide that they will find to be of value? Where’s the payoff?

So tell them. Right up front. Before you say anything else.

Slightly modify the old saying about presentations that goes, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you’ve told them.”

It’s just a little off the mark. Yes, repetition is important, but instead try the following:

“Tell them what the value is for them; tell them why you provide it better than anyone; then, tell them who you are and how to take the next steps.”

Marketing Tools for the Channel

Your presentation is a marketing tool and must obey the same rules as any other marketing tool:

1) Begin with “the hook,” a provocative, compelling knockout statement about the value that awaits your audience if they stay with you. Just like the first sentence of a sales letter. If that doesn’t intrigue them, you’ve lost them.

2) Now that they see the value you bring, give them compelling evidence that you are, by far, the preferred provider of said value. Give examples of how others have benefited by obtaining this value from you.

3) Help them imagine how great things are going to be when they receive your value. Provide details about the benefits that make your value great.

4) Provide an easy-to-execute call-to-action enabling them to readily take the next steps required to obtain your value from you.

5) Thank your audience.

This may all sound simple, and that’s because it is. Producing an effective presentation isn’t hard if you have great value to offer. The problem most presenters face is that they go to present what’s important to them, not to their audience.

All of your marketing is about your audience. Simply remembering that rule and putting your audience—your customers—front and center in your presentations and all of your marketing, will make a huge difference in your effectiveness.

Howard M. Cohen is a 30-plus-year IT industry veteran who continues his commitment to the channel as a columnist and consultant.