How To Engage Your Audience/Prospect

(Book Excerpt from The Power of Storytelling –

As an influencer your purpose is to do one thing: engage the audience.
What do you think it means to engage?
According to Webster’s, to engage means to cause someone to be involved; to attract their attention; to engross them.

If you are teaching, leading, selling or speaking, your purpose is to engage your audience. Above all, you want to grab their attention and get them involved. Your prospect, client, customer, employee, team member, or student has to be engaged or they won’t buy your product, act on your idea or implement your plan. Without engagement, there is no influence.

In the spirit of engagement, I believe that we should move from giving sales presentations to having sales conversations. There’s a huge difference between the two. A sales presentation, by definition, is a monologue, while a sales conversation is a dialogue–it involves both parties and the emphasis is on the buyer, not the seller.

I know we have all done this before. We give a sales presentation (a monologue) and then at the end we ask, “Do you have any questions?”

There is nothing about that model that makes it about the audience; nothing that makes them part of the conversation. For an actual conversation to take place, there needs to be interaction, back-and-forth talking, and listening. Remember, a great storyteller is first a great story listener

I’m sure that many of you who speak, lead or teach don’t view yourself as being in sales. The truth is, however, we are all in sales. Whether it’s a product, a service, a vision, an idea, a strategy or ourselves that we are trying to promote, it is all sales. Embrace that principle, learn to sell effectively, and watch your influence grow exponentially.

Not long ago, I had a chance to attend a conference of The National Speakers Association. While I was there I met many other speakers and the typical conversation started by someone asking, “What do you speak about?”

I replied to one particular lady, “I speak on influence to sales and leadership organizations.”

She said, “So are you a sales speaker or a leadership speaker?”

And I said, “Both.”

She looked puzzled and responded, “You can’t be both.”

I laughed and said, “Then I guess I’m in trouble because I am.”

So how does this pertain to sales presentations versus sales conversations? I think that sales has changed. The old school approaches of push strategies, arm-twisting, and high pressure don’t work anymore–if they ever did.

Sales today is about influence. It’s about moving people.

Lisa Sasevich, a top sales trainer, said, “In today’s world, people are looking to be inspired. Encouraged. Taught. Heard. It’s no longer about simply selling. It’s about becoming a trusted advisor. You’re now learning to influence. And that, my friends, is where you begin to make the biggest impact and attract dedicated, highly committed, highly invested clients and contributors.”

I completely agree with Lisa.

They say that leadership is influence. But here is the insight–so is sales. And while we are on the topic, so is speaking, marketing, teaching, and coaching. If you are in the people business (which we all are) then you need to learn to influence people.
Push strategies don’t influence others, they turn people off and drive them away. They achieve the exact opposite of our purpose of engagement: grabbing their attention and getting them emotionally involved.

And that brings us back to stories.

The reason that stories are an influencer’s best friend is because they are the ultimate pull strategy–the polar opposite of push. A pull strategy is about attraction, and stories naturally draw people in, causing them to listen, learn, and respond. When you share the right story, in the right manner, your message will become magnetic and you will increase your influential pull.

(The Power of Storytelling –


One Response

  1. Could not agree more!! I’ve been preaching this sermon a long time but you really hit the nail squarely on the head.

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