presentation

Yes, ADAP Works!

Thank you for your success stories and questions. For years, we’ve been teaching presenters how to use the ADAP formula – Audience Driven, Authentic Presentations, to produce winning presentations. Usually the focus is on the first part – how to be audience-driven. This month, people asked about Authenticity and I thought we’d discuss it.

Audience-Driven means that a presentation has to understand the audience’s full-set of needs/wants and deliver the information in a way which:

  • Acknowledges the limitations in the presentation setting (e.g., how much time will the prospect give full-attention) and conform to that reality
  • Resonates with the audience’s value system and uses power words to create enthusiasm
  • Recognizes personal and external resistances that the prospect (and her/his colleagues) may have to adopt a new framework and provide the hard data and social support to overcome them, develop trust, and facilitate acceptance
  • Advocates action which is easy to understand and doable by the prospect.

This week a major presentation was made by a client to a C-level executive at a top financial firm. The original presentation had the facts, but there was no “energy” in the presentation to motivate the prospect to take the risk or see the presenter as a “trusted advisor” with the necessary expertise to execute.  In the new presentation, the presenter adopted a framework that made it clear that their solution could align all external and internal forces to give prospect the “firepower” necessary to succeed with the complex project. Deal sealed.

We’re not always witness to an inauthentic presentation, but the nation saw an example, that’s not often so public. When the President first addressed the issues involved with what happened at the Charlottesville rally, you could tell he was speaking from his heart. When criticized for not blaming the groups advocating bigotry, he gave a speech the following day designed to address the criticism. People who watched/listened to it noted its lack of enthusiasm with a low-level cadence that accompanies reading copy written by someone else. That apparent lack of authenticity was confirmed when he volunteered to speak on the issue the next day, reinforcing the initial position and reversing the prior day’s comments. The lesson for all of us: make sure the message you deliver is one that’s authentic to you – so you present it persuasively.

Keep sharing your ADAP-related experiences. If you want to master it, attend one of our workshops (see presentationexcellence.com) or request one-on-one coaching/consulting.

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.

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!

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