Presentation Round Up – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Looking to stand out in the crowd? Yet still need to ‘fit in’ to the corporate culture, norms and standards for business presenting? Don’t fret. You’re not alone.

Millions of people grapple with this tough dilemma. You want to be different, cutting-edge and radical. But you don’t want to alienate your boss, clients or prospects.

Hey, what’s the right thing to do?

In many popular books by leading experts in public speaking, you’ll find similar advice. It’s all about standing out and shining. You’ll find commands such as: Be unique. Get radical. Push the envelope. Go for shock and awe. Break the rules.

While this sounds good on paper, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking about ‘real world’ issues:

“What would my boss say?”

“That would never fly in my firm.”

“In your dreams, buddy.”

Let’s face the facts. Daring presentations are essential and important.  But there are organizational expectations and realities to face up to — if you want to keep your job.

In planning your next presentation, look at your options in 3-buckets: the good, the bad…and the ugly.

The Good

Action: You take a radical approach to presenting.

Instead of a hum-drum PowerPoint pitch, you turn on the juice with whiteboard presenting. By getting your audience involved in a lively discussion, you expose a hot issue that your clients are going crazy about — one that your firm is able to solve.

Result: Good!

Your boss commends you for taking the risks. Plus he is thrilled because you’ve brought in the rewards. Now, he wants you to find a training company that teaches visual storytelling so all the members of your team can be as proficient at the whiteboard as you are.

Benefit: Good!

You get an A+. Your boss loves your work. Your team admires you as their natural leader. Oh, yes. Don’t forget that hefty bonus check.

The Bad

Action: You take a radical approach to presenting.

You ditch the boring corporate-approved slide deck in favor for a whiteboard approach to storytelling.

Figuring that sketching with a marker in front of a group isn’t as hard as it looks…you jump in without coaching, practice or training.

What happens? Your busy clients are intrigued by your whiteboard scrawl. But they are looking bewildered. They aren’t sure why you bothered. Hint: if people can’t read your writing or understand your visual diagrams, your whiteboard presentations are going to bomb.

Result: Bad!

Your boss is pissed off! After yelling at you in front of the team, you are treated to the silent treatment. Not sure how to proceed, you toy with several options:

1. Get training in whiteboard interaction

2. Never use a whiteboard again

3. Start sending out your resume

Benefit: Instead of jumping first and getting help later, you now know the importance of targeted coaching and training! One bad experience is enough to light a fire underneath you. No more waiting. You’re actively seeking out coaching, training and online classes. No more procrastination. You’re focused on building your skills and getting help right now.

The Ugly

Action: You take a conservative approach to presenting.

Instead risking embarrassment and humiliation at the whiteboard, you grip on to your clicker and run with the same slide deck you used last time.

Feeling confident in your client presentation, you don’t check in with other team members. Moving along in the corporate-approved deck, you have a sense of warm certainty in your tummy that everything is going your way. No rocking the boat like some of your other teammates.

Result: Ugly!

Your boss flips out! You get the riot act. Some wild yelling and head slapping, accompanied with: “I can’t believe you showed that generic deck to these clients! We were counting on that deal. What were you thinking?!”

Feeling betrayed and disillusioned, you ask for help from a close teammate. He tells you that the newest trend in presenting is visual storytelling. He shows you how to draw icons and create a simple visual diagram at a whiteboard. In just minutes, you’ve got an easy story to tell that is fun, inspiring and anything but hum-drum.

Benefit: While you start sending out your resume for a new job, you now have a new awareness of presentation trends. You’re a lot less likely to rely on the same-old-same-old the next time you’re in front of busy clients.

In fact, you’ll be much more prepared to blow your audience away with whiteboard sketches and visual storytelling. Just the thing that important clients and prospects can relate to.

Now, let’s get personal. What’s your plan for your next high-stakes presentation? Take a close, hard look. Aim for interaction and visual storytelling. Remember this: Your boss and clients will love it. Imagine the rewards and benefits: you’ll get an A+ and land a big bonus.

Hurricanes and Business Presentations

If you’re planning a business presentation or any sales interview with a large company during the hurricane season you may find yourself being postponed and you may want to cancel and reschedule the appointment for the business presentation until everything is back to normal.

This is because the decision-makers and the Board of Directors of the Corporation in which you are giving your sales presentation or business presentation pitch to, will have on their minds many other things that affect their supply chain, sales teams and business outlets, which may have been destroyed during the hurricane or even injury of workers. With all this all their minds the chances of you pulling off a really good presentation and making the sale are much lessened.

During the 2005 Atlantic tropical hurricane season many professionals and sales teams found themselves in a region, which was not interested in anything they had to say unless in fact they were part of the relief and rescue efforts. It is best to reschedule business presentations whether they are about sales or future negotiations until later date after a major catastrophic mother nature event. This is proper business etiquette and the most professional thing to do as well. So, I hope you will consider all this in 2006.

Killer Presentation Skills – How to Overcome 3 Barriers to Better Public Speaking

You know that improved presentation skills lead to better leadership and greater success. And you do want improved leadership and success, right?

Then, like most people, you probably find the barriers can be forbidding and intimidating. Here are 3 barriers, and strategies to overcome them.

Barrier #1: The amorphous nature of presentation skills. It’s not something that most people are good at, and even if they were, it’s not like sitting down with someone and spending a few hours going over the basics.

Improvement requires a structured, disciplined approach. Mentoring by good public speakers in your organization won’t work. Nor will self-study.

Strategy for Overcoming Barrier #1: Look for a solution that has a smaller number of participants that usual. I suggest something that has a maximum of 7-10 participants, because this allows participants to delve deep into the skills and concepts necessary for rapid improvement.

Barrier #2: The Time Factor. Some solutions are over a time frame that’s too short. Most training firms do this in 2 or 3 continuous days. With today’s fast and furious hectic pace, requiring people to take this much time off at once just isn’t practical or productive.

And, improvement in presentation skills just doesn’t lend itself to such a short time.

Other solutions take too long. Joining Toastmasters is great, but it does take a long time to really learn everything. The same applies to enrolling in a public speaking skills class at your local college.

Strategy for Overcoming Barrier #2: Search for a solution that is provides training/coaching over a shorter period, perhaps 8-10 weeks. The accelerated nature of this solution addresses the too long/too short barrier.

For example, 6 half-days every other week is much more manageable than 3, 2, or even 1 full day away from work.

A more spread out format (bi-weekly or every 3 weeks) allows participants to adequately prepare for the speeches in the next session, and lets them try out newly learned techniques in the real world of their jobs.

Barrier #3: Lack of metrics for success. In a sense, this barrier is related to Barrier #1 (the amorphous nature of presentation skills), but it really is a separate barrier. Most training programs don’t really measure improvement.

In my coaching and consulting, I emphasize the importance of metrics. I often say, “If you’re not measuring this, how will you know if you’re improving?”

Strategy for Overcoming Barrier #3: Two ways. First, participants should take some sort of self-assessment before and after the training or coaching. This gives them a clear understanding of how much they’ve improved.

The other way of overcoming this barrier uses an evaluation form during the training, so that participants use the form to evaluate others’ speeches.

After the training or coaching, you can use this form when doing a presentation; give it to someone in the audience so that person can evaluate your speech. This way you’re continually improving after the training or coaching.

So, yes, the barriers can seem overwhelming, but the right strategies will get you over the top, and on the way to improved public speaking.