Your company probably spends a pile of money on designing logos, marketing materials and packaging that are consistent with its brand. Your company likely has a budget to train staff so they deliver a consistent experience for everyone who comes into contact with you.
I work with a lot of companies that do this. But with many I do end up wondering, after spending all this money to build a brand, why do they leave presentations to the whims of the presenter?
It doesn’t take much to chip away at your image. A grotesque hot pink chosen for a bar graph, a crazy new font that doesn’t appear anywhere in your marketing materials, a bootlegged photo from Google Images and, all too often, a message that is obscured by a clutter of information…these are all ways your brand is undermined in presentations.
Just like everything else, keep your presentations consistent.
"The importance of an idea is often judged by the fluency (and emotional charge) with which that idea comes to mind."
Last month, in the U.S., the battle over SOPA happened. Wikipedia and Google launched dramatic campaigns against the bill and, convinced of their rectitude, I sided with them. This month, in Canada, our government is proposing an online surveillance bill that will give police unfettered access to our online activities. The Canadian government is framing this bill around child pornography insisting police are incapable of dealing with this heinous crime without these powers of surveillance. I thought about my position. I decided that any concern over the police seeing my inane Facebook posts or boring banking activities are meaningless compared to slowing down an internet industry fueled by the horrific abuse of children. And so I argued in favour of the bill.
But wait. My positions are inconsistent. On the one hand, I said the government should butt out and allow us our liberties. On the other, I was passionate with my, “Yes! Let the police in and protect these kids.”
Why did this happen? It came down to emotion. Instead of logically assessing my position to see if it fit with my overall view, I went with my gut and my heart.
The truth is most of us do. That’s why, in all likelihood, the Canadian government is making child pornography the bill’s flagship target. It’s smart presentation skills. It’s smart storytelling.
The truth is I still want the government to come up with a way to track bad guys online…but my emotions prevented me from looking closely at what they were proposing and wondering if there were alternatives.
Forget about the emotion and your audience is likely to forget about your idea. And, of course, the opposite is true.
Last week in Stand and Command a question came up about questions. In my experience most presenters dread Question & Answer period because they feel they are being grilled, put on the hot seat, or challenged.
The truth is a lively Q&A is the best indicator you’ve engaged your audience, given them something to think about and persuaded them that your idea is worthy of discussion.
So why dread the Q&A?
Usually, it’s because of the elephant. The one objection, hurdle or point of contention you know could prevent your idea from moving forward - that’s the elephant. If someone mentions the elephant surely it will kill your story, destroy your idea and your presentation will be a flop.
Not if you mention the elephant first.
For every Q&A, predict the questions you’ll be asked and rehearse your answers.
If there is an elephant, work it into your presentation and address it as logically and persuasively as you can. You have now neutralized its power and strengthened your idea.
Do this for every high stakes presentation and you’ll be a Q&A master. You might even start to enjoy it.