About Me

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Len focuses on helping small and new businesses succeed through developing appropriate marketing and sales strategies. Len enjoys mentoring, relishes in getting both arms and feet wet in addressing technology, marketing and sales issues. He understands the drivers impacting business results for today and tomorrow including time-to-market, time-to-revenue, marketing, sales channels and social media.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blood, Sex and Money – Doing Presentations That Inspire, Motivate and Get New Business

If you do presentations using computer generated slides then you need to read this blog before you create one more bullet point.

I had the pleasure of taking in a webinar this week that was entitled “How to Deliver a Presentation Like Steve Jobs.” If you do not know who Steve Jobs is then you can stop reading this article right now. If you do know who he is then you are aware of the cool technology presentations that have been Steve’s forte at every MacWorld event. Whether talking about the latest MacBook or iPhone technology, Mr. Jobs knows how to get his audience excited.

Creating presentations on the computer is a common task. Most of you who have Microsoft Office have worked with PowerPoint creating slide deck after slide deck so that you can wow your customers, impress investors, and explain your company’s products and services to prospects. In OpenOffice you would use the product called Impress. In Google’s on-line application platform the product is called Presentation. Essentially all of these products are similar in functionality. You can choose template backgrounds or create your own custom artwork, choose fonts for headers and bullet points, insert images, shapes, animations, launch video clips.

But this blog isn’t about the functionality of these presentation tools. It is about getting your message across and what Steve Jobs does that makes his presentations so effective that audiences jump to their feet and applaud. Because Steve Jobs doesn’t worry about the functionality. His goal is to inspire, to motivate, to get people to act.

So let’s get started yielding some of the “Steven Job secrets” of great presentations.

1. The first and most important rule of good presentations is not to open your presentation software until you have created your storyboard. You can use drawing paper, post-it notes, a note pad, just DON'T TURN ON THE COMPUTER. First answer the questions:

What’s the story you want to tell?
Who is your audience?
What pain are you trying to remove?

A good presentation is just like a good news article. It answers who, what, when, where, why and how.

2. Every presentation should have a theme. The theme of this blog is its headline because headlines make for arresting themes that garner attention. And when you state your theme keep your message simple and clear and make it 30 points or better. (Oops, I said I wasn't going to talk about formatting and functionality. Well this will be the last time.)

3. Your personal presentation style is more important than the messages displayed in your slides. I am talking about the level of energy you bring to a presentation. Enthusiasm, passion, humour and commitment all play well with an audience. You have to step out of character when you put yourself on stage. You are a performer, so learn to act.

Always provide a roadmap. When Steve Jobs begins a presentation he says something like “I’m going to tell you about three things today,” and then he proceeds to tell you what these three things are. A roadmap gives audiences a sense of where you the presenter are going. They know the beginning, the middle and the end. They are clued in and ready to listen.

5. If you use a lot of numbers, graphs and charts in your presentations, make the numbers meaningful. It is one thing to put a big number on a slide, such as:

400,000 sold in the last month

It is quite another to show the meaning behind that number by showing its relationship to the bigger picture. This can be done in a chart such as pie or histogram that compares previous months' sales to this month or the total market against your market share for the month. A great technique for hardware sales is to equate the volume with linear distances such as we sold 400,000 units this month. If you were to pile them end-on-end that pile would extend from here to the Moon.

6. Bring theatre to your presentation. When Steven Jobs introduced the latest MacBook at MacWorld he had it delivered in a manila inter-office envelope and proceeded to pull it out. In the process he demonstrated just how thin this new computer was. The audience was wowed. You can get a wow factor not just from physical displays. You can show a video. Tell a story. You can conduct an instant poll. The key is to raise the level of involvement and interaction between you and your audience.

7. The single toughest issue for presenters who use slides is to keep their slides simple. ONE IMAGE PER IDEA SHOULD BE THE GOLDEN RULE.




cannot read because to get all that information in we have to

make the fonts smaller and smaller.

It is like reading an eye chart. Don't do it.

And don’t make your audience sit through 40 or 50 slides. As a general rule you should have no more than 10 slides for a 20 minute presentation, and 15 slides for 30 minutes and so on.

When you present please don't read what's on the slide. Too often presenters do this. The reason seems to be all about not knowing the content well enough which speaks to the point two down from this one. For this type of presenter the slide is their script. This is hard on any audience. It is a wonder that people sit through these types of presentations and actually pay attention.

Another golden rule is DON’T TALK OR LIST FEATURES, TALK AND SHOW BENEFITS. If you are like your audience then you know that making a buying decision has as much to do with emotions as it has to do with rational logic. Benefits equate with emotions. How does this product make you feel? What pain is resolved? How will I benefit?

9. REHEARSE, REHEARSE AND REHEARSE AND DO IT ALOUD. Too often presenters walk into a presentation unrehearsed, or having walked through the presentation at their desk, and in silent mode. You can tell those types of presenters and presentations in a minute. What a turn off.

10. Finally, don’t go more than 15 minutes in a presentation without creating some kind of break. That break could be:

Show a video clip
Have a 2nd person join the presentation
Do a a straw poll with the audience
Encourage interaction by posing a question to the audience and getting people to respond.

So now you know Steven Job’s secrets of great presentations and can start working on your own storyboards and presentations that will help you inspire audiences.

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