Ralf HallerRalf Haller July 2, 2012

How to present your company better by talking about something else

This year, I have had a lot of experience seeing presenters try to capture audience attention and get their message across to decision makers.  At IT events I have been hosting, I matched presenters to a selective group of decision makers from large companies and government organizations. I saw some very good speakers, but a surprising number of ineffective ones.

Talking about yourself again?

It is now widely recognized that you, your products and your competitors are not the main thing that the audience most wants to hear about. But in practice, most of us feel exceptional enough to get away with it. It just does not work, and I saw speakers again and again lose the audience’s attention and fail to get the message across.

So how to combine your presentation with effective product marketing?

  1. You come last. Intro what you do in 1-2 slides at the end of your presentation and not at the beginning where everyone would do it. The reason? The attention rate is highest at the beginning and you do not want to bore the audience there and lose their attention to your key messages. At the end it is second highest, so still a good spot. If you have held their interest till now, they will naturally want to know more about you.
  2. Let your customers speak. Show what solutions and benefits you have brought by letting customers do the talk (if no customer wants to do that, at least use quotes or a video, but be aware that they must be authentic)
  3. Drama building. Explain what key issues exist, what is being done or not being done right now to address them and what can be done differently. Classic drama building.
  4. Interact. How about letting the audience decide what you want to talk about? Sounds unrealistic? Not at all. One approach we have seen from a participating vendor at an event we did was to use a presentation just as a guideline and collect 10 questions that the audience wanted to be answered upfront. Needless to say this presenter, despite still talking only about his company, got one of the best scores from the audience in the follow-up online survey. A few smelled the trick and said this was “impudent”, though, so don’t try to manipulate the audience. While you might make it work for a majority you will lose some attendees forever.