Let’s start by answering the second part of the question first. For what purpose? Of course, the answer is to increase conversions and drive sales. Please take immediate note that, even if you are working with non-commercial presentations, don’t be in rush to close this tab. The methods used to make a sale are also effective in educational, scientific and social presentations, where the “sale” is achieving the desired audience reaction.
Now, back to the topic. Why does surprise increase sales? Because we – humans as a biological species – are wired that way. Those who knew how to be surprised, that is, who paid attention to anything bright, unusual, or out of the ordinary in its usual environment – survived better than their indifferent counterparts. They were faster at finding berries and fruit, better at hunting, and quicker to react to danger. A brightly colored fruit on a tree surprises, arouses curiosity, and the hand is drawn to pick it. This is what we are trying to achieve when we try to surprise the audience during an online presentation.
The most important thing is that surprise does not cause another reaction, which is closely related to it. Namely, fear and/or aggression. And this second reaction, by the way, is achieved much more easily than positive emotions. Imagine that you have given a child the task of surprising you. What, most likely, will they try to do? That’s right – suddenly jump out of hiding with a scream. Perhaps dressed up as a ghost or some kind of monster. Unfortunately, children are not the only ones that understand the word “surprise” in this way.
As you may have realized, we have now smoothly moved from answering “For what purpose?” to answering the riddle of “How?” I must say that “Surprise the client” has become commonplace advice in recommendations from various marketing gurus, coaches, and successful entrepreneurs. But how exactly to go about doing this is not usually explained in a detailed way, and only using the most general phrases. As a result, many presenters are focused on childish concepts of surprise, and try to influence the audience in the style of action movies and horror films. We’ve all probably experienced online events where the audience is tortured by sharp sounds, bright flashes and the sudden appearance of garish characters. It’s like a terrible jump scare. After receiving one, most people will simply slam their laptop shut, roll down the car window, and try to forget what they have just seen.
What should we do to make the surprise benefit both the presenter and the audience? Here are a few tips that we think will help you find the best answer to this question for each specific situation.
- Share an interesting fact or story about the presentation’s topic. It’s not always the easiest task, but if you do it right, this sort of anecdote will cause surprise and catch the audience’s attention. Let’s say your presentation promotes… well, let’s say quince juice. You could start it by saying that in a number of ancient sources, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was a quince, not an apple. Interesting, isn’t it? By the way, you can present the fact in different ways. For example, try presenting it as you tell the audience a cohesive story.
- Conduct a quiz or test with questions and tasks focused on the topic of the presentation. Most viewers are unlikely to expect that they will be offered the chance to participate in a game. And they are likely to be pleasantly surprised. This is especially true if they are offered prizes. For example, a discount on the product or service being presented. You should realize that those who win this discount will almost certainly become your customers. In addition, contests, quizzes, questionnaires, and tests have a wonderful property to draw the audience into the process of presentation, turning them into active participants in the event. And any interactivity, as you know, dramatically increases the presentation’s effectiveness.
- Add video. Strange as it may seem, this technique is still used quite rarely. If you ask presentation viewers (and authors) to describe a typical presentation, almost certainly most will say that it is something with slides and comments from the presenter and/or speakers. Ask yourself. Do thoughts of videos come to your mind when you think of an online presentation? Meanwhile, if statistics are to be believed, using video in a presentation increases sales by 85%. The conclusion is obvious: Whatever online presentation you make, try to convey some of its ideas and concepts with the help of video or animation. It is better, of course, to use these elements in the beginning of your presentation.
- Offer a non-standard view of the product or service. What is a non-standard view? It is best to explain it with a concrete example. Consider the old marketing tale about a certain owner of a chain of profitable car dealerships, who required his salespeople to draw young buyers’ attention to models with a spacious rear seat, giving special attention to its comfort… Do you need us to explain what they were suggesting?
- Invite interesting speakers. Another good way to surprise your audience and increase their focus is to have surprise guests as speakers and co-hosts. You don’t know any such guests to invite? That’s not a problem anymore. You can create them yourself. For example, with the help of Pitch Avatar, an intelligent presenter’s assistant from our ROI4Presenter team.
As a finale, we’ve saved one more tip. You know the easiest way to find something that can truly surprise your audience? Find something about your presentation’s topic that surprises you. In that case, you will be one hundred percent successful.
Good luck, successful presentations, and high income!