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A lost opportunity

I went to a presentation recently on marketing strategy, a topic I am very interested in. The speaker was touted as an expert and had recently published a book on the topic. I was looking forward to hearing what the individual had to say and learning a few nuggets to help me as I create and update my marketing plan.

I was disappointed. The individual had a prepared presentation but no cohesive message. He asked questions of the audience but didn’t seem to relate his story to their responses. He had a PowerPoint presentation with numerous word filled slides containing boxes and arrows. He had an 8 point plan that actually expanded to a 16 point plan because most points had a number of sub-points. He made general comments such as you need “collective engagement with management” but no concrete examples of how to accomplish this. He didn’t offer me anything I felt I could use to help my business today. Lots of talk and glitz but nothing memorable.

Bottom line – I enjoyed the networking opportunity, the group was a gathering of marketing professionals from small to medium sized, high growth companies, but I could have passed on the presentation and speaker. I’m sure this guy knew his stuff and has been successful with clients but he didn’t present his case very well. It was a lost opportunity.

So how do you deliver a memorable presentation?

Stephen Gray, a partner at Rockford Gray a media relations company based in Denver, says you should ask yourself 5 questions before you put your pen to paper.

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What is my objective?
  3. What visual tools do I have?
  4. What questions am I likely to hear?
  5. What is my “call to action”?

Kevin Eikenberry in his book Remarkable Leadership offers these comments.

  1. The presentation is not about you (the presenter). It is about the audience.
  2. Open with impact – set the context, set your objective, provide the audience a WIIFM (“what is in it for me”)
  3. Close with action – summarize what was said. Leave your audience on a high note.
  4. Then design the body. Kevin adds don’t include any new information or Q&A in the summary.

When I was in the Navy the presentations were straightforward. The presenters told us the learning objectives were up front, they explained the topic, answered our questions and then summarized what they told us. Many times the topic was dry but you always knew why you were there and what you were supposed to remember.

So what makes a memorable presentation? A common thread in these three approaches is to plan your presentation in advance. Simplify the key messages. Make it personal. Tell a story. Engage your audience. Summarize in a memorable way. Remember the audience is focusing on you, keep the focus there – don’t depend on PowerPoint or other technology to deliver your message. Finally I would suggest asking a sample of the audience privately how they liked your presentation and what they learned. Did they take away what you wanted them to remember? If so, congratulations you have succeeded. If not, figure out how to deliver your message in a more personal way and keep experimenting.

Until next time – all the best!


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