Show up and throw up: A presentation epidemic

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20120724_9givingapresentationBy Anil Dilawri

Nobody ever said, “That was an okay presentation, I just wish it was longer.”

Yet day after day, in boardrooms around the world, presenters set up their laptops and present way too much information to their disinterested audiences. Even if the audiences were initially interested in the topic, the presenter quickly makes them disinterested or confused by going into too much detail. Most of this detail is unwanted and unnecessary.

A presenter tends to be a subject area expert — that’s why they were selected to present. Subject area experts want to tell audiences everything they know about a subject. The product marketing guy doesn’t simply want to tell you about the two key benefits and the price of the product. He wants to tell you how the product was developed, the nine key design features, the 12 main benefits, and the 27 ways it can be deployed. The problem is that the audience doesn’t want all that information. It’s too much. It’s not digestible.

So, how can a passionate and knowledgeable presenter entice their audience? Here are three quick tips:

1. Change your mindset. Don’t go into an important presentation thinking “I need to convey everything I know about the topic … even if I don’t have enough time.” Instead, go in with the mindset of “I’m going to present a few important elements on the topic in a very engaging way that is meaningful to my audience.”

2. Present a consumable amount of information. I’m big on asking clients to deliver three key points during their presentations. That’s a nice, consumable amount of information. Even if you go as far as presenting five or six key points, you’re still okay. Just don’t present that 57-point plan. You may feel good about presenting all 57 points, but your audience isn’t listening to or understanding most of them. Think quality, not quantity.

3. Be a “permission-based presenter.” A permission-based presenter is someone who presents a consumable amount of important information in an engaging way and then listens to their audience. If the audience wants more information about a certain element they will ask. The presenter now has permission to go into more detail on that particular element. An example of this is when you present the price of a product. A permission-based presenter simply states the price. If the group of buyers asks “Why is it so expensive?” you now have permission to go into detail on the value the customer receives, the return on investment they get, and the competitive positioning of your price. If the audience doesn’t ask anything further about the price, then there isn’t an issue with the price and you don’t need to talk about it any further. Everyone is happy.

Being a permission-based presenter allows us to stay away from “Show up and throw up,” a chronic disease that many presenters have. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? That overzealous marketing/sales representative who shows up and blabs on about the history of their company, how many countries they do business in, how many employees and customers they have, how many awards they have won and other information that is not important to you, the audience. No one likes that person who shows up and throws up. No one wants to be that person.

When it comes to presenting, keep it brief, keep it consumable, and when possible get permission from the audience on where your content focus should be.

Anil Dilawri is Managing Director of Save it like Sully, an executive presentation training and coaching company.

Image: Lime Connect

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