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Posts Tagged ‘presentations’

I’m e-mailing this post from a BlackBerry. That’s probably no great shakes by most bloggers’ standards, but not bad for a guy who typed Newswriting 101 stories on an IBM Selectric back in the day.

Count this as one small example of the always-on, to-and-from-virtually- anywhere nature of Internet-enabled communications.

Here’s another:

While attending the Custom Publishing Council’s annual Content Conference earlier this year, I stood in the back of the ballroom during one session and did a quick headcount. Fifty-seven people seated for the session. Of those, at least 11 (that I could see) were Web-connected and typing away on laptops.

For all I could tell, untold others were sneaking an occasional peek at one Web-enabled handheld device or another. And it’s certain several in attendance were Twittering during sessions.

How do I know? One of the speakers at an afternoon session actually incorporated into his presentation some of the tweets that had gone back and forth during that day’s morning presentations.

Why am I telling you this?

This observation might be late in coming, but it struck me, counting all those “listeners” on their laptops — including several well-known bloggers — that we might have recently crossed a significant communications line when it comes to the possibilities speakers have to engage audiences.

The days when an emcee at an educational conference gets up and asks attendees to turn off their cell phones, pagers, etc. — those days might be coming to a close.

After all, with the proliferation of blogging, tweeting and Facebook updating, social media communicators could argue that it’s essential they keep their technologies on, and their communications capacity live, in real time,

In fact, speakers — and the people who write speeches and develop presentations — might want to start taking this into account, and even attempting to capitalize.

What if one of conference speakers had asked everyone who was Web connected to go to a particular site, or click on a specific tool, animation, case study or widget?

Or what if a speaker had asked everyone with a Twitter account to submit their 140-character opinion regarding a thought-provoking opening question? And then, late in the speech, read some of the salient tweets?

And what if that speaker told those who weren’t Web connected to get up and go look over the shoulder of their nearest Web-connected neighbor?

Sound like a recipe for chaos? Maybe.

But it might also have made that particular speech or session the most memorable and provocative of the conference.

It appears, more and more, that business-event audiences will be coming to conferences loaded for real-time, Web-enabled communication and social networking.

Rather than insist they shut down and listen, maybe a speaker’s goal should be to turn them on to something new, remarkable and interactive.

What do you think? Any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share on how speakers can leverage an audience’s Web connectivity as an advantage?

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If current market conditions have your sales-support budget in a limbo contest — how low can you go? — here’s a relatively inexpensive way to bring fresh thinking and possibilities to the next conversations your sales force will have with potential customers: 

  • Pull out a printed copy of your organization’s core capabilities presentation — the one your sellers rely on when they need to deliver the company’s best, most comprehensive features and benefits pitch.
  • Starting at slide 1, count how many times your organization is referenced. By name. “We.” “Our.” Stop when you get to 10. Place a Post-It there.
  • Now, starting again at slide 1, count how many times your customer or prospect is referenced, directly or implied. “You…” “Your…” “Businesses today…” “Homeowners…” “Decision makers like you…” Stop at 10 and place a second Post-It.
  • Finally, check the two Post-Its. Which one takes longer to reach? The “You” or the “I”?

If it’s taking quite a bit longer to reach a critical mass of “You,” then there’s a good chance your killer sales presentation isn’t so much killer as it is deadly. Your sellers are probably spending way too much time and verbiage speaking to company history, mission, size and scope, and not nearly enough establishing context and relevance around the win-win dialogue they’re hoping to establish with customers and prospects.

Mid-size and larger companies might spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars conducting research to identify customer insights. Those insights typically drive extremely smart segmentation strategies and well-crafted advertising messages.

But it’s often the case, come time to get across the desk or in a conference room with the target, that those insights go out the window. Even in the largest and most sophisticated of organizations, it’s common for the developers of sales-support content to fall back on “who we are” and “what we do” long before they’ve established “why you should care.”

By contrast, in a world where customers are seeking more value and relevance, the most powerful sales conversations are most likely to start and end with a focus on you — the customer, their customer, their direct and indirect competition, and the evolving sales and marketing dynamics of their business.

News headlines. Case studies. Third-party research. Quotes from subject-matter experts. All these and more can be the material from which to develop and inject a strong dose of “you” into the front end of your core sales presentation.

And from there, seguing into “who we are” and “what we do” suddenly sounds a lot more like a solution, and less like a self-centered soliloquy.

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