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2011-09-26 17:18:26

Are Your Presentation Skills Costing You Money?

Everyone in the real estate business presents: Agents present when they are doing listing or buyer presentations. Managers present when they are recruiting or doing their office meetings. Mortgage and title reps present when they are in front of a group of agents in an office, talking about their services. So, doesn’t it make sense to become ‘killer’ at those presentations? You’ll double your money and halve your time.

Sometimes we’re so focused on technology and education that we forget this is a “people business”. And, a great deal of the money you make comes from your ‘point of contact’ skills. What do I mean by that? The skills of lead generating dialogues and presentation dialogues. Yet, how much do we work on those verbal skills? Unfortunately, communication sales skills have gotten short shrift in the last decade. Why? I think it’s because many of us are so challenged by technological changes, applications, and needs. But, slow down. Think about how you actually make money—how you create long-term relationships—how you garnish referrals.

It’s at point of contact.

Getting better at point of contact skills translates into more money in less time.


Bug Off: I Do Okay Just Like I Am

Yeah. I know. As a musician, I’ve worked with literally hundreds of people who thought they ‘played good enough’. Some people just get to a certain performance level and leave it there. Have you ever thought that, often, our presentation strategies (or lack of) work in spite of us, not because of us? 

As a musician, I know the thrill of performing at high levels. So, open your mind and consider stepping up to a higher presentation level. Not only will you have personal satisfaction, you’ll make more money!

Now, let’s tackle one set of presentation skills: Organizing that presentation effectively. Having heard listing presentations that wander all around the world, I know the importance of effective presentation organization.

I learned how to organize from two perspectives: First, as a performing musician. As we played music jobs, we had to organize our ‘tunes’ to grab the audience, keep the audience, and send the audience off on a high note. Then, as a real estate speaker, I had to learn these skills again in a verbal, not musical, context and language.


Organize your Presentation to Knock Their Socks Off

Most of the time, we just get in front of people and say whatever we think of first. That leads to some big presentation mistakes, and costs us ‘sales’. Instead of stumbling through a presentation, why not organize it to grab their attention, persuade them to your way of thinking, and motivate them to action?


Every Presentation Should be  Persuasive

No matter why you’re in front of people, you need to be  persuasive.

Think about it. When you’re doing a listing presentation, what do you want to happen? You want them to sign the listing agreement when you’re done. When you’re doing a sales meeting, what do you want as a result? The attendees to take the actions you suggest they take. If you’re training, you want attendees to put your recommendations into action. So, it’s extremely important that you organize your presentation using a persuasive format, not just an information-heavy dialog flow.


The Persuasive Presentation is Constructed like a Pop Tune

Here’s the flow chart I developed for several of my training/presentation resources. It shows how to create a persuasive presentation. Being a musician, my analogy is that it is like composing a ‘pop’ tune. You have the beginning theme, then the middle or ‘bridge’, which can wander around in various keys and chord changes, and then, voila—back to that theme again. That’s what makes the tune memorable—the repetition of the theme at the beginning and the end. And, that same repetition is what makes a persuasive presentation memorable.

Here, step by step, is how to craft each of the three sections of a persuasive presentation.


Step One: Grab Their Attention in the Opening

Have you thought about your opening? Or, are you nervously standing at the sellers’ door, worried about what you’re going to say? Are you hiding in your office because you dread doing that sales meeting? When we haven’t organized our presentation, we come up with some really boring, off-putting openings, like:

  • I won’t take much of your time, but...
  • We have a lot to cover today (boy, that’s exciting…
  • We won’t get through the outline (then, why is it there?
  • I know you don’t want to listen, but
  • I’m not really prepared (Don’t tell me that!)
  • You just open your presentation book, point to the pretty pages, and say, “here’s a key box” (I’m not kidding. I’ve seen it….)

Great openings, yes? Yet, we’ve heard them dozens of times. You don’t have to settle for whatever comes ‘naturally’. Instead, make your openings

  •             Provocative
  •             Interesting
  •             Different
  •             Engaging

I just attended a ‘Train the Trainer’ session (yes, I still learn great stuff every day!), where the trainer said it was important to engage the audience in a meaningful way in the first two minutes of your presentation. I think that’s a great rule to follow today, because people’s attention spans are the length of a gnat’s eyebrow. So, the next time you attend a presentation, see how much time elapses before the speaker/presenter/trainer gets the audience into meaningful action. I don’t mean to ask a rhetorical question, either!

Step Two: Craft a Middle that Educates your ‘Audience’ to your Point of View

In the middle of your presentation, add those stories, statistics, and visuals that support your point of view.  By the way, as you create that presentation, jot down your point of view. If you’re doing a presentation to sellers, one of the major objectives of your presentation is to persuade them to your listing price point of view.


Why use Visuals?

There are two reasons to use visuals in your presentation:

  • We believe what we see
  • We retain the information much longer
  • As you organize your presentation, ask yourself:
  • What are the main, and frequently, unspoken objections my ‘audience’ will have? How do I educate them to show them the reasoning behind my point of view?


Retention is Key

Have you ever met with sellers or buyers, given them lots of information—and then had them question you about it a few days later—as if they never heard you—or heard you backwards? That’s because people don’t hear and retain very well. Look at the statistics:

Three days later: 

We retain 10% of the information when we hear it

We retain 65% of the information when we hear and see it

So, use visuals to prove your points, not to merely show pretty pictures of houses.


Step Three: Bring Back the ‘Theme’ at the End

 Have you thought about your wrap-up? Or, like many presenters, does your ending sound like this?

  • Well, that’s all. What do you think?
  • We’re out of time. Thank you. I hope you’ll list with me
  • I don’t have time to close.
  • I couldn’t get to much of the material, but you can read it…..

In fact, even the most professional presenters frequently have trouble with their endings. One of the main reasons is that they run out of time. Another is that they haven’t thought the ending through.


How to Do a Stunning Ending

Crafting an effecting ending is the second most important part of your presentation. (The first is the opening). To craft a great ending,


            Go back to your beginning opening theme

            Summarize the benefits of going ahead with you/take action

            Motivate your ‘audience’ to take action


Just think of the tunes of Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, or Elton John. They are all masters of the ABA formula, and their endings are inspiring blockbusters. Now, you’re all set to craft a great listing or buyer presentation, do a motivating recruiting meeting or sales meeting, or wow ‘em with an awesome product/service presentation to any audience.


P. S. Last words from a musician: Practice!


Many more tips on presentations and presentation skills are in my new resource, Knock Their Socks Off: Tips to Make your Best Presentation Ever.



Carla Cross, CRB, MA, is a former master-level CRB instructor, popular international speaker, National Realtor Educator of the Year, and author of 6 books and 20 audio programs. She specializes in ‘people development’—strategies for real estate professionals to enjoy highest production and profits. Join her newsletter community and receive her complimentary eBook,Getting to Yes: Ten Powerful Tools to Bash those Barriers to Purchasing Today.Learn more at, or contact Carla at 425-392-6914.


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