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You probably don’t remember how to balance chemical equations but chances are you do remember some of the great stories one of your teachers or classmates shared in school.  Mr. Gustafuson, one of my high school teachers, used to begin every class with a short excerpt from a book he was reading.  I remember some of the details from the book he read from, but to be honest, I don’t remember what class he taught!  I do remember looking forward to hearing the next section, which encouraged us to show up on time.

Stories are memorable, facts and figures are not.  In the words or Chip & Dan Heath, co-authors of Made to Stick, Stories are Made to Stick!

Presentations which might otherwise be dry, come alive with great stories.  When talking about a wrong approach or illustrating an idea, use  a story rather than arguing for your proposed solution.  A wise mentor once told me, you can’t argue with someone’s personal testimony.  So use a real story, and if possible, use one you have personally been involved in (If not, be sure to research the details and be sure it’s true before bringing it to the client.)

One more important point; great stories are rehearsed and revised.  Coming up with a new story at the moment of truth is not the best approach.  Develop your example stories before you get on stage, practice them, record them, share them with others, and figure they will improve over time, so tell them often.  The better you become at story telling, the more life you’ll bring to your presentation.  Try it this week and let me know how it goes….

© 2010, David Stelzl

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I have an idea!  There are seven things IT is doing to enable hackers… You know how?  Bold, unexpected statements cause the brain to ask, “How?” or “Why?”  The stronger the need to know the better.  A great presentation creates these “Knowledge Gaps” to draw the audience in.  One speaker I listen to calls this “Salting the Oats.” In his week long seminar he often says things like, “There are 3 purposes for money…which I will share with you tomorrow.”  Another favorite line, “While in school I went from D’s to A’s.  I found the secret to success…which I will be sharing with you on Friday.”  This keeps people’s interest for days!

All you need is 30 minutes or perhaps and hour, of which much of your time should be spent in discussion.  But take a look at your opening presentation.  Is it boring or does it create knowledge gaps?  One speaker I respect says, “We need something every ten minutes to keep the audience tuned in.”  I don’t know where his research comes from, but I can say I’ve sat through many predictable presentations.  Like another episode of Scooby-Dooby Doo…the outcome is known long before the presentation is over; it’s obvious.  There is no curiosity, no ah-ha moments, and nothing to keep me from reverting back to my Blackberry – the ultimate time filler.  Spend some time today reviewing what you present and see if you have knowledge gaps or where some might be injected into the program.

For more ideas on Mastering Board Room Presentations CLICK HERE!

© 2010, David Stelzl

The building to the left sits on the roof of the Divyershee Chambers tower in Bangalore.  This is where our training classes were held and what a great view during breaks!   We completed our final day of training today, focusing on presentation skills.  Here is how we do it:

1. First, the message is created.  We broke up into teams, reviewed each person’s best executive level presentation material, and then selected one to modify.  Each team works through their presentation applying the concepts from the three day class. Most find their presentation states the obvious and then moves to a feature sell.  This is not executive level material.

2. I then worked with individual teams to identify their main objective for education.  Each presentation starts with a clear strategic aim; what are you trying to education executives on.  If it is your product, expect to be delegated back down to IT.  Once identified, we apply Hollywood’s best plot concepts to the presentation.  It must grab the audience, interrupt their current thinking, and provide answers to knowledge gaps that are created through the presentation. This drives them to action.

3.  Stories are used to illustrate and create visual concrete concepts for the audience.

4. The close must leave them wanting something.  There must be an urgency to action.

It is rare that I see this type of presentation right out of the gate, but why?  Don’t the marketing groups that create these sales tools understand marketing science?  Why should a sales rep spend months trying to break into an account, then more months working up the chain of command, only to show up with a boring presentation.  The company that figures this out will ultimately win.

With this in mind, I am headed to Germany tonight at 2:00 am.  I’m sure it will be an exciting plane ride!

© 2010, David Stelzl