What Does “Powerful” Mean?

What do we mean when we say that a presentation is powerful? It’s got great content? It was graphically engaging? The delivery was captivating to convert people to “buy” into the proposition? All of the above are true, but the most important part is whether it had IMPACT – produce the desired deal. Since the average viewer generally is not the final decision-maker, impact is determined by what happens after the presentation.

When the presentation is over, the viewer needs to be committed to taking action (based on the features mentioned), remember the key points and be able to communicate it almost as effectively as the original presenter did.

For many presenters, this is where the breakdown takes place. For instance, all necessary content is considered when preparing the presentation; but usually it’s more than the audience needs to hear and more than they can remember. WINNING means producing a presentation with What’s Important Now (WIN) only! Delete the clutter – it distracts from the core message and the ability to remember it clearly! Powerful means grabbing attention and keeping it by being succinct for quick grasping of key points in a memorable manner (e.g., “3 points”) which the listener can remember and communicate to others. Slides with too many facts and/or presenter with too many words, makes it difficult to remember the key point and easily repeat it to the final decision-makers. Further, words need to be simple and powerful for one person to communicate with others. “They had a breakthrough year, tripling sales and profits” is a memorable conclusion, you are likely to share; a whole paragraph discussing it, is not.

Similarly, charts with too many details and boring headlines (e.g., Sales History 2013-2018) that don’t telegraph the important point (“Sales are Doubling Annually, for 5 years”), don’t make it easy to tell the final decision-makers. For instance, yesterday I sat in a presentation in which a slide showed three charts side by side, with boring titles on each, so much detail that it was hard to discern the real trends, and did not use the same color line for each company when charting (e.g., IBM was blue, red and green) in the three charts. The audience spent time trying to make sense of what chart was saying, and had no ability to grasp quickly the important point to remember and communicate easily to others.

Suggestion: rehearse your presentation with someone not familiar with the information before delivering it. When finished ask them to share with you the three key takeaways. If the person gets them all, immediately, you have a Powerful Presentation. Similarly, if you do not win a deal, give take the test and see what happens. If the person can’t remember and communicate, then it’s time to master the basics of Presentation Excellence.

What’s your experience with powerful presentations? Share with us.

Disrupting Retail: What Will Happen?

What do you do when you’re “marked” for execution? You can either adapt – and possibly live for another day – or find ways to significantly change the game. Unfortunately, in the retail business, most of the disruption is taking place by the disrupter itself, and not those marked for extinction.

Several years ago the Bespoke Investment Group, created a listed of companies which it believed were marked for “Death By Amazon” (AMZN)  and created an index of these stocks. It includes such swell known companies as Best Buy (BBY), Barnes & Noble (BKS), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), and Macy’s (M). As we noted in my classes this week (I teach business strategy for CUNY), several additional companies recently announced closings of physical stores  – including the entire chain (e.g., Bebe, Payless, Radio Shack). As I understand it, the projection is for over 8000 retail stores being closed this year about four times last year’s number.

So the challenge is how to change the retail model.  Many companies are looking to integrate e-commerce into its operation – as the proposed $300M purchase of men’s clothier Bonobos would do for Walmart. Target and other bigger stores are working on shrinking their stores to increase productivity and profit per square foot. Many are adapting customer-friendly  practices to optimize the number of customers still using their stores; omnibus marketing strategies, collaborating with manufacturers to improve margins and cut costs, embracing social issues that customers care about, and increasing end-customer personalization. Whether these will result in long-term success remains to be seen.

The final challenge is who can do it better and faster. Will these individual and/or cumulative changes enable the retail stores to reverse their sales and profits slide, or will Amazon, with its potentially transformative approaches to retail (e.g., Amazon Go) give it a competitive advantage.  For people with creative new ideas on how to transform purchasing and selling practices that integrate online and physical shopping, these can be exciting times.  What are your ideas?

Responsible Empowerment

 

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do something. All too often people complain because things aren’t working as they should, and by investigating exactly what is happening, the answer turns out that the “right” goal is being pursued, but the actions people are taking are faulty.  It’s analogous to leadership vs. management: the former makes sure you’re going in the right direction; the latter makes sure you’re doing it correctly. Delegation isn’t enough; management must be sure that workers are equipped (responsibly empowered) to execute as desired in order for people to achieve the goals set by the leaders.

Human Resources often is committed to talent management: hiring the right people, engaging, training and empowering people to take on those responsibilities which will lead to goal achievement – for the individual, team and company. Yet, all too often employees and freelancers fail to deliver on the hiring promise, leading managers to wonder why the people they supervise “isn’t the person they hired.”  (Barry Deutsch).

“Responsible empowerment” requires more than just issuing a job description, telling the person to take charge, and then reviewing in a global annual review. It means making sure the worker is properly empowered to do the job correctly through ongoing reviews at dyadic accountability and improvement meetings.

  • Providing a detailed description of a person’s job responsibilities and the standards by which performance will be evaluated.
  • Reviewing with new employees as often as necessary what challenges they’re having in fulfilling their jobs, enabling the person to adjust behaviors to “get it right”, and providing ongoing feedback including steps for improvement. (For instance, during the first month, each employee and supervisor might meet weekly, then monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and eventually annually. Whenever the person has a changed job description, the cycle begins again in relation to the new activities. (See eval2win.com.)

Without ongoing accountability for mastering one’s job responsibilities, supposed empowerment is likely to fail. For the supervisor, responsible empowerment includes addressing a range of leadership and management issues. Does the employee have the skills and tools and motivation to do the job well? If not, enable him/her. For long-term employees, just because he/she did the job originally hired for well, doesn’t mean he/she will be competent with new responsibilities (e.g., the Peter Principle). Are there other members in the team that are making it difficult to do the job? If so, address these issues with those members, after getting input from others involved to determine the facts.  (Vistage CEOs often share that they hire too fast, fire too slow and almost always discover that other were grateful that the person was finally let go!)

In sum, be a leader who builds a great team with effective management systems. As a manager, use responsible empowerment to ensure that each worker know exactly what he/she should be doing, how it contributes to the strategic direction of the company, and ongoing, job discussions, performance monitoring, with suggestions for continuous improvement.

How are you ensuring that you use responsible empowerment – and not just delegation?  Share your experiences.

Getting to “Yes” in Presentations

Always on the lookout for strategies and tactics that can help presenters close more deals, here’s an approach which Adam Grant (in Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World) calls: the Sarick Effect.

When developing a presentation, most of us focus on:

  • Identifying the key message we want to communicate (using the ADAP formula) so it’s compelling
  • Including supporting factual and emotional information
  • Structuring and designing the presentation so it’s engaging
  • Making it powerful – memorable and communicable so the listener can easily share with others who need to make the decision.
  • Including a sense of urgency, so the prospect will want to take action

When we do it well, we have an excellent likelihood of winning.

Rufus Griscom used a different strategy in making a presentation to help raise money for a start-up. Presenting it to Disney, he started with a slide that read “Here’s Why You Should Not buy Babble” After that he listed several challenges, obstacles and disappointments the company had encountered so far.  Disney ended up buying the company for $40 Million.

Leslie Sarick, a social scientist, provides the insight into why this approach works.  In most presentation situations, we try to be persuasive by emphasizing our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses. For an audience that’s generally supportive, this is an effective approach. But when you present to a skeptical audience, which investors often are, as they listen to your message, they’re looking to poke holes in the arguments and find reasons your suggestions won’t work.

Leading with weaknesses accomplishes four objectives:

  • It disarms the audience which was looking for a “sales” pitch
  • It makes you, the presenter, look smart and honest.
  • It increases people’s assessment of you as trustworthy
  • It increases the audience’s favorable assessment of the idea itself, as they search harder to find the positive elements.

If you ever considered buying a public company IPO, you probably read a government approved Prospectus before placing the order. It’s full of RISK FACTORS which are designed to discourage a person from making the purchase. In other words, the government understands the Sarick effect and wants potential investors, especially retail buyers to be skeptical before making an investment.

This approach reinforces our ADAP – Audience Driven, Authentic Presentations – formula. Some audiences will be skeptical and presenting the negative side of the “ledger” is critical to getting them to make a decision. Thus, a third approach is to combine the two styles: when presenting a new idea, starting positive is important. When asking for action, going negative about what’s happened so far in executing it, demonstrates excellent management and leadership skills: the ability to see what’s going wrong, assess what to do to correct the problems, and the willingness to be transparent.  This further explains why you’re looking for financial or other support, now, and adds to your credibility and sense of urgency.

When you present, have you ever used the Sarick effect to increase your effectiveness? If so, share your experience. If not, consider when it’s appropriate and the next time you use it, share that experience!

Metaphors Are Memorable

 

Think about the recent election cycle.  When Donald Trump wanted you to thinkabout an opponent ina derogatory way, he found a simple metaphor – that stuck.

Remember, these people? “Lyin’ Ted”, “Low-energy” Jeb, “Little Marco” Rubio, “Crooked Hillary” and  “Crazy Bernie”. Sure you do. Why, because, just as a picture is a thousand words, metaphors are memorable because they paint the “big picture” and leave out all the words, that often no-one wants to read!

In Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer, remind us of this point and give us some interesting pointers when we’re engaged in selling.  In a sales situation, the first thing you need to do is set the framework – draw a picture of what your prospect’s world looks like.  This allows you to demonstrate you understand his/her world and enables you to help create the framework you want to use.

(Remember, in the “old” world of sales, where people were to note features, sell benefits and overcome objections, the objections usually came from the fact that your framework missed key issues and they arose “objections”. For instance, if you’ve qualified the prospect as having the budget you need, and created a framework for high ROI and value, then price isn’t an objection anymore.)

After you’ve created the Big Picture, present the detailed sales points, providing evidence to support each one. Then, close with a metaphor that summarizes your point and makes it memorable.  Another example: a client with a warehouse, created a sales pitch in which he notes the pain many customers experience in other facilities (often hidden charges, complications, slow services), describes the quality, speed and efficiency of its logistic services, while showing the facility, and ends with a metaphor that appeals to the emotional side of the buyer:  warehousing made easy.

What metaphors do you use in your sales presentations?  Share them with us!

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