Corporate Presentation – That’s the Way You Do It
March 4, 2008
All over the world thousands of business presentations are being given every minute of the day.
In offices, conference rooms, hotels, campuses, business meets, trade fairs, seminars…wherever a company needs to project itself or its products or services, it has to spend vast sums of money hiring rooms, hiring projection equipment and deploying staff all in a bid to woo clients/customers/manpower, as the need may be.
But how many of these presentations are truly effective? How many have delivered the desired result? How many have changed the way people think about the particular company?
While it is an absolute truth that you can’t influence all the people all the time, the sad fact is that for many presentations the result is a complete waste of time or even worse they have a negative affect on the delegates. Let’s see how a successful presentation can be made.
Know the Audience
Probably the most important part of any presentation, without them you would be talking to yourself. You should know as much about them as possible: Who are they, how many of them are expected, what are they interested in, what do they want to hear, what is in it for them?
You have approximately thirty seconds to four minutes to establish an initial relationship with the audience. These first few valuable minutes of the encounter will determine the degree of attention delegates will be willing to invest on your presentation and whether they choose to actively process what you have to say. Opening statements in corporate presentations are crucial.
Design a powerful opening statement.
If your opening statement is clumsy and inept, expect delegates to label you as such and to process what they hear through that filter. People rarely separate the person from his/her behavior in such instances. If your statement is confused, woolly, silly or uncertain, don’t be surprised when you notice that a fair number of your delegates have turned their cognitive lights out.
To give you an example of an effective opening statement, when Partho Mondal, CEO of Wisitech
began his presentation about Wisitech’s capabilities to a panel of marketing minds from one of the biggest retail chains in the US, he started by saying, “The risk of talking about your own self is either you tend to exaggerate or underplay. So I will stick only to facts about what we have achieved and leave you to judge.”
The statement broke the ice immediately, brought a smile to the faces of the generally somber audience and Partho got for himself a set of interested listeners instantly.
The art of storytelling dates back tens of thousands of years. It is an essential element of the advancement of our species – the telling of fables, parables, myths and legends was the vehicle of choice for passing on advice and guidance from one generation to the next.
“The storyteller creates the experience, while the audience perceives the message and creates personal mental images from the words heard and the gestures seen. In this experience, the audience becomes co-creator of the art.” – Wikipedia
Yet the approach to the phenomenon of presentations rarely exploits the audience’s appetite for a story.
Perhaps Hollywood can help!
Before any film is made, the budding writer produces a script outlining essential elements of the story by creating a storyboard to show how the film might look visually.
The power of the storyboards is that it conveys different information to the various roles involved in making the film. The storyboard is used to help plan who needs to do what. Finally, before the film goes on the floor, it undergoes test screening to gain feedback from people not involved in its creation to assess how well the story is received and where, if necessary, it can be improved.
In presentation writing this can be applied as:
• Script = audience’s requirement, your win strategy, how you plan to solve the problems
• Storyboard = your presentation breakdown structure and a thumbnail for each section.
• Test Screening = presentation review (team reviews)
Applying Hollywood film-making techniques can also help overcome one of the most dangerous tactics in preparing presentations – the ‘cut & paste’ from your last presentation.
Make your content relevant
Persuasion researchers have found that one of the most important variables in triggering motivation to think about a message is personal relevance. Personal relevance can stem from a variety of factors: linkage to personal beliefs and values, desired outcomes, group expectations, plans for the future, corporate vision, issues of personal relevance to the delegates as a whole and shared experiences to name a few.
Design a memorable conclusion to your presentation
Your closing statement represents your last word on the subject matter. It’s your final opportunity to make a difference. Your last minutes and seconds in front of your delegates should represent a determining moment for them, a turning point, a point where your message should culminate in a fusion of impressions that leads to the suggestion of action, thus reflecting the ultimate purpose of your message.
In the world of corporate presentations, you do not always need to visually spell everything out. You do not need to (nor can you) pound every detail into the head of each member of your audience either visually or verbally.
Instead, the combination of your words, along with the visual images you project, should motivate the viewer and arouse his imagination helping him to empathize with your idea and visualize your idea far beyond what is visible in the ephemeral PowerPoint slide before him.