Powerful Presentation Are Great Conversations

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ADAP Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentations – is the powerful formula that our Presentation Excellence team has been sharing with clients over the past years and helping them develop and deliver winning presentations. It took us two decades, working with over 5000 clients to arrive at this simple truth: When you focus on the audience’s needs for information to make decisions, your entire presentation – in terms of content, structure, design and delivery – is improved significantly.

Here are a few tips to help you with your presentation effectiveness.

  • Focus your message on WINning content – what’s important now.
  • Deliver a message that resonates with the audience’s ability and willingness to accept it. Remember, less is more – be succinct to facilitate info processing and future recall for later decision-making (which is your real goal). This includes keeping text succinct and taking into account the unique challenges of time and place (e.g., after lunch conference presentation and webinars).
  • Use attractive graphic design to encourage people to want to view your message. This includes readability (e.g., keep text to single, scanable lines), use real photos instead of generic cartoons). Show pictures when it’s simpler to understand a concept: a picture of a spiral-staircase is understood instantly; describing it takes hundreds of words. Help people visualize processes and outcomes using diagrams, photos, and appropriate graphs (e.g., line charts show trends, not bar graphs!)
  • Be authentic – both in terms of content and form, the presentation has to be consistent you’re your beliefs and values; audiences easily recognize presenter who try to present material that’s not authentic (e.g., templates people feel uncomfortable with and statements people who don’t believe what they say).
  • Connect with your audience – through words (“you”), eye contact, body language (be natural) and personalize (e.g., relate stories that appeal to the group). Make it an interactive: pose questions throughout the presentation, as you would in a conversation, to engage the audience by thinking through the issue and try to answer it. As they do, they are internalizing elements that can be the stepping stones to reach the ultimate conclusion you want them to act upon!

Before making a presentation, always remember the stakes. What’s its impact on how audiences will think about your personal brand? What is the economic, social and other values of the “sale” you want to achieve? Make the investment needed to succeed. Do it now, because the lessons you learn today will last you for a lifetime! If you need help with your presentations, contact us for information on our New York workshops, group training at your corporate offices, and individual coaching.


Several years ago, I co-founded an integrated investor/public relations firms (PortfolioPR later known as Target 3 Communications) and leveraged our clients’ expertise to gain attention of investors and customers. (We helped a public company increase double its market cap to over a billion dollars, and helped a division of another company turn its “roll-up” of six companies into the new industry leader.

Recognizing the cost-effectiveness of this content marketing approach by potentially charismatic leaders, we launched Thought Leader Excellence, offering both our services and educational workshops. As our Vistage New York members are learning, it’s a great way to increase visibility among the 18,000 Vistage CEO members who want experts to help them grow their companies.

This weekend, I ran across an article describing key characteristics of great marketing approaches, and thought I’d share a few with you.

  • Know Your Target Market. Sharing ideas that will appeal to “everyone”, dilutes the power of the message. Communicate content that’s essential to your target market and do so in a way that will have influence. Give a message that the audience is interested in hearing at that time, and in a form which will resonate with their receptivity. In a sales process, each connection requires a slightly different message, rather than repeat the same material over and over again (and audiences therefore turn off!)
  • Tell Customer-Centric Stories. Sales experts advise us to focus on the benefits, not the features. Using that approach and tell the story from a customer’s perspective, not from an objective scientific approach. If your product lasts three times as long but only costs 25% more than a competitors’ product, what does that mean for the customer? Which matters more to your audience – less down time, life-time value, time saved having to repurchase? Vary the way you tell the stories: Case studies (which focus on challenges, traditional solutions, your unique solutions and the impact for the customer), customer success stories, with quotes and satisfaction-pictures, best practice summaries, reviews by other experts, etc.
  • Use a Multi-channel Media Campaign. Use all appropriate media to create a multi-channel message reinforcing campaign, leveraging the unique characteristics of the media (e.g., social media, blogs, columns, whitepapers, op-eds, etc.). Since people think in terms of words and pictures, with the latter more efficient, use meaningful graphics – rather than generic stock images– to powerfully connect. This includes customer logos, quotes, charts, photos of happy customers, etc. Remember, from an internet search perspective, using multi-media increases searchability, interest and engagement.
  • End with a Call-to-Action. Sales experts report that 50% of all sales people fail to ask for the order at the end of the pitch. With thought leadership, there is no direct pitch, so the call-to-action is more subtle: making sure reference-sites (e.g., websites, whitepapers) are made available and listing your contact information.

How are you using Thought Leadership to promote your personal and/or corporate brand? How well is it working – are you measuring the ROI? Share your experiences with us here. (For more information on how Thought Leadership can help you, contact us at www.thoughtexcellence.com.)