The #1 Most Important Part of a Sales Presentation (That Most Companies Miss Completely)

Simple question:
What’s the purpose of a presentation?

I asked this question at a talk I did recently….

Action is the most important element to consider in any presentation – but most particularly for a sales presentation.

Why do I say this? Well, the sole purpose of a presentation is to get someone to do something; to get them to take the action you want them to take. Otherwise, why are you doing the presentation in the first place, unless you like the sound of your own voice!

You’ll probably now be saying to yourself “Well, yes that’s pretty obvious?”

Yes, it is obvious but that doesn’t mean people actually truly understand how to define the action and how you get someone to do what you need them to do.

You could probably get away with being a little lazy about this years ago but in a world of changing decision makers, pressure on budgets and the pressure to deliver results can you afford to be slapdash?

So, here’s a perfect example of how real thought has gone into the Action.

A winning campaign

Take a look at the picture below. I guess we all know who the guy on the left is, OJ Simpson, but what about the man on the right?

It’s Johnnie Cochrane – his trial lawyer.

Now, I’m of the opinion that trial lawyers are probably the best in the world at creating and delivering presentations; these are people that truly understand the meaning of action and getting people to do what they need them to do – however cynical that sounds.

True, they rarely have to deliver a 30-minute powerpoint presentation for their cases but they look at the entire trial as one long presentation made of many separate parts. The very same principals they use can be used to create customer-facing business presentations.

So, what was Johnnie Cochrane’s desired action in this trial?

You’d probably say to get a ‘not guilty’ verdict. Ultimately, you’d be right; that was the overall strategy/outcome he was looking for. He wanted to get OJ found not guilty but it wasn’t about guilt or innocence, he wanted to get OJ acquitted (that’s an important difference).

So far so good, but that’s still a broad strategy so let’s dig a little deeper into the OJ campaign and the parts that Cochrane needed to consider to make sure he got his desired action for the verdict.

To get an acquittal he had to face 12 jurors; 12 individuals with 12 different perspectives, and different biases – all of which, he had to directly address. They were his audience. So he had to persuade 12 individuals (not an amorphous group, as my old boss said “You’re not selling to

Microsoft, you’re selling to Dave in IT”) Cochrane needed to understand his audience. Did he have to prove innocence? No, we’ve established he just needed an acquittal. And how do you get an acquittal? By proving Reasonable Doubt – Now we’re getting somewhere, can you see a

strategy in your mind coming together? Even at this point, Cochrane needed to go deeper. The prosecution, on the face of it, had a watertight case; solid facts, well presented and argued, very compelling! But, at the time of the case, racial tensions were running high with the Rodney King

case and the LA riots. What beats facts/logic? Emotion, every time – even in business. So, he played the emotion card. What if the police case against OJ was racially motivated? This was like setting a match to a tinderbox – BOOM. Trying to persuade his audience that the police may

have been racially biased against OJ was an emotionally charged accusation, once he’d planted the doubt, and it wasn’t difficult to do, it was only a small step to instilling reasonable doubt. Cochrane precisely defined his Action for the case. Everything from this point on was by the

numbers. With this action in mind, absolutely everything he did was focussed around this one objective. Every part of his case had this undercurrent and he built his entire argument around it.

So, what’s the moral of this story?

Jokes aside, Action is at the heart of everything.

Whether you’re Johnnie Cochrane or developing a sales campaign or presentation the same rules apply. Adopt the same methodology and you’ll have a precise and targeted presentation which might not win you the business but will go a long way towards helping you get there.

If you want to know how we do this for our clients here’s our process in a pdf.

Every point, every visual and every argument has to build towards that Action point.

That’s your narrative, that’s your structure, it’s your story and it should dictate everything. From the content, visuals and the order you need to deliver them in.

And, I don’t care what business you’re in; tech, finance, advanced manufacturing or cybersecurity – emotion runs throughout all of these businesses. After all, we’re all individuals. We all have different perspectives and biases, and that is what Johnnie Cochrane tapped into and locked down on.

Here’s the sell…

If you want to know more about how to create a highly targeted, customer-centric interactive presentations then don’t hesitate to get in touch via the handy contact form below. We read and reply to every message we receive!

Download our ebook on creating an interactive presentations, there’s a lot of very useful information in here

Damjan Haylor
Managing Director

Contact Us

Need a hand crafting your story?
We know our work is about starting the conversations that matter to you and your business. So we get straight down to business, taking an honest, thoughtful and insightful approach to bringing your story to life. If you’d like to find out how we can help, please get in touch.
155 Whiteladies Road
Bristol, BS8 2RF
+44 (0)117 329 1712




Tel No:


How did you find us?