"I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle..." When you approach your corporate presentations, what are you thinking? Are you actively trying to bring meaning to your message in the strongest way possible, or are you tossing out your facts and figures with as little hope of getting a response as The Police had in their classic tune?
In order to wise up your messaging, you've got to alter your approach. Think not just about your info, but what you're trying to do with it, and how you're going to do it. How can you get smart about your next corporate presentation? Start with these questions:
1. Are you clear about your Objective?: This may seem obvious. You know what you're talking about! You're the one giving the presentation! However, when you articulate the real Objective of your presentation — beyond simply "what it's about" — you approach your content with the goal of influencing, persuading, or inspiring your audience to action. Your Objective is what you want your audience to do as a result of your content.
Here's an example of the difference in perspective: Allan is giving a presentation on Tuesday. When summing it up, he says that his presentation is about the Q2 numbers. Pretty passive, right? Now, say Allan takes some time to consider his actual presentation Objective. Suddenly, he defines his talk as "An overview of the Q2 numbers to inspire our sales force to top their efforts in the coming months." That simple shift in mindset can activate everything from his content development to delivery. You're not just delivering a list of stats — you're connecting with an audience in a effort to get them to DO something.
2. What do they need to know? What do you WANT them to know?: It might not be the same thing. You might think the most important thing in your presentation is the amount of money your new system will save its users. But what if the big concern for your audience is how easily (or not) the system will be implemented? If all you talk about is the potential savings, without addressing what your audience might need to know, your content will be of little use to your listeners.
The flipside is that if you're sure to address their potential concerns, you earn yourself a gateway into sharing what YOU want them to know: "We've discussed how simple it's going to be to implement the new system. I know that might've been a concern for many of you. Now, let me give you more good news with the cost effectiveness." Address both their concerns and your needs in your presentation, and your audience can receive your message — and more.
3. Whose product/idea/service are you selling? Yours, or someone else's? Every company wants to talk about how they can do x,y, or z better than their competitors. Sure, that's important. But what makes you different is what can make an audience sit up and take notice. Be aware of what makes your ideas special, and don't be afraid to articulate your differentiators! What makes you unique should be part of your overall company message.
Rather than simply selling another version of the same old thing, highlight what makes YOUR approach different. (For example, did you know all of the communication experts at Ovation are professional actors with business experience, and that we share the benefit of performing in front of thousands with our clients? You didn't!? Well, now you do!)
4. Are you speaking to humans? Or robots? Are you just laying out buzzy jargon? Or are you clearly articulating your message in a way that can be consumed by other people? If you ever feel the need to make your language more "impressive" by using copious amounts of business-speak, fight the urge. This doesn't mean you have to talk down to your audience. It simply means that you can deliver your content with the same terminology that you would to a trusted colleague or friend whom you wanted to help.
5. Are you inspiring cheers? Or zzzzz's? You may have the most interesting content in the world. Unfortunately, it's not going to stick with your listeners if you share it in a boring presentation. This doesn't mean artificial bells-and-whistles, or funny props, or bad puns. What it does mean is giving a bit of yourself. This Forbes article relates a great tale about how the largest pharmaceutical settlement ever was won on the back of a good story. Personalize your message: How has your business changed you? How do you hope it changes others? What was the singular best experience you had, related to your content? What hard lesson did your data teach you? Connect with your listeners on a personal level, and your message will be remembered.
What are your messaging musts? How do you ensure that your corporate presentations inspire action? Let us know in the comments below!
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