After “Joseph” pitched his new company, a chorus of potential investors tossed questions out like excited birds chirping in a zoo aviary. But no one in the throng asked the “right” question. Instead, the group of smart, seasoned executives were led down a rabbit trail by a sly speaker.

The clue was right there on one particular PowerPoint slide. It contained stats about projected sales with lots of small print. He passed over it as quickly as a bunny goes down a trail.

It deserved more investor investigation.

Although it flashed up, while he mentioned great “sales opportunities,” the crowded info was hard to take in. Since the speaker was charming, all eyes followed his winning ways, distracted from the slide itself.

It’s a common problem: PowerPoint can distract audiences from touchy issues and bury important information. Still, at the end of the day, when I talked to others there, they knew something was missing. They couldn’t put their fingers on it.

It was simply this: Sales, in this situation, were being misrepresented. A pretty important concept for investors.

As an audience member listening to a speaker, heed this advice: In meetings where you are being asked to approve or decide, always, always, always make sure you understand the money trail. Don’t be shy about it. Dig in. Follow that trail and every aspect of it. And you will discover whether a diamond or dirt is buried in the data.

As a business who needs to sell your ideas: The problem in this example is one of many “influence” topics covered in our company’s program Speaking for Influence. We host this ground-breaking seminar a few times a year including this March 21-22, in Dallas, Texas. Visit my website for more details at Clients learn to be more effective and cohesive-without being manipulative. Our mission is to build skills to build business.

As a presentations and meetings strategist, it’s my job to know all the tricks about positioning unpleasant news and framing difficult topics without being duplicitous. We help clients speak with integrity – and influence.

“Joseph’s” approach was a desperation tactic, not one for the long term and repeat business.