I came across a recent copy of CIO magazine, and as I flipped through it I found it had some articles that were interesting even to a marketing guy.
I especially liked a piece by Editor in Chief Maryfran Johnson about how poor use of PowerPoint can kill an otherwise promising presentation. She tells the story of a conference where a CIO strolled on stage, told a humorous anecdote that caught the audience’s attention, and then “picked up the clicker, lashed himself to the mast of an absolutely stupefying, bullet-point-ridden PowerPoint deck and sank like a stone.” Who hasn’t seen this happen? You begin squirming in your seat, start checking your email, and finally duck out to see if another presentation is any better.
As an executive coach notes later in the story, PowerPoint has become a crutch for people who need to give a presentation and don’t know the material that well.
While I think that’s true, I also think people just find it too easy to simply list bullet points on a page and read them off to the audience. New rule: if the audience can read it, you don’t need to. I try to elaborate on what’s on the screen, not repeat it.
Here are some other tips in the article:
- “Storyboard” or brainstorm your presentation on paper first. I find my ideas flow better when they’re written by hand, and I’m not caught up in the mechanics of banging things out on a keyboard.
- Use striking images to illustrate your themes. Lots of low-cost photos and illustrtions are available at istockphoto.com.
- Use bullet points as the exception, not the rule.
- Know your story and supporting details enough that you don’t need to look at the slides.
For more help, pick up Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery.
Drop me a line with your tips for a good presentation.
Everything is a process, just most of us don’t think of it that way. Creativity and innovation can follow a process as well. This presentation on brainstorming is a good primer on how to engage, what should be the ground rules and the process for closure and follow up. In my group of friends after a bunch of brainstorming, we all send out an email that says: Here are the things which still sound good in the morning, if we all have one of the same listed, we pursue it. Not very formal, but a process, so check this one out:
After working with a company over the last couple of weeks to adjust their message in the marketplace, I continue to realize it is tough stuff no matter how many times I’ve done it. Every engagement is a little different, but the story hurdle is present in just about every business. I’ve typically been challenged by most clients to get their teams to understand that marketing is always about telling a story. Often it is a new story; most often it is a more simple story.
No matter what you are marketing, it represents some type of story which highlights a single theme or idea. How to save money, how to improve your effectiveness, how to improve your quality of life – all them threads which position a product. Thanks to ethos3 @ slideshare.net, I now have a pitch I can point people to that is engaging and an independent validation. At least this covers the corporate capabilities part.
One of the hardest things to do, as an independant contractor, is to convince the person with the check that some of their other stories are too complicated or least not connected. Most of my clients have an inside-out view of the market and often suffer from the category killer disease (CKD). CKD is when no matter what product category they are in, their revenues or what “rank” they have, their product is the best. The reality is sometimes it comes down to that a product is the cheapest, the easiest to use, the highest quality or maybe actually the best. The trick is to connect these benefits to the story or single idea.
September 27, 2008