Last night, my wife hosted a Pampered Chef party. Basically this is an excuse to get your friends together under the guise of learning new recipes and discovering new gadgets to assist your culinary efforts. The party is actually run by an individual whose job is to present a cooking program and sell the culinary tools/utensils (gadgets). As the husband who felt totally out of place, I did the only thing I could; watch the presentation and critique the selling skills. The presenter had great content. The recipes were interesting and the gadgets even caught my attention. The program was successful and sales were decent. However, I am convinced this individual left money on the table by making some of the most common mistakes in sales presentations. To begin with, she was only concerned with getting through her program. You could tell because she spoke real fast and was not tuned into the fact that at times the audience felt lost. Losing the audience is easy to do when you are only concerned with the program and not the critical issues facing the audience members. I guarantee you that if this person got the audience more involved in the presentation, the interest will have been higher and sales revenues will definitely have been higher. There are two ways to get the audience involved: Asking questions and telling stories. Ask the audience members what’s keeping them up at night. Find out their challenges and the impacts they are having on their lives. Then when you go through your presentation, take the time to customize your presentation around the issues you have uncovered. Using stories to present your points and relate to your audience issues is an extremely effective presentation tool. People love to hear good stories, more so than boring facts and figures. If you use a story, it must be to the point, suitable for the audience, easy to understand and relate to and most importantly support the point you are trying to make. Otherwise the story will hurt you more than it will help you. Getting your audience more involved through questions and stories will result in your customers walking away with the feeling that you really care about them and more importantly that what you have to offer really is the right solution for them.