Present Ideas, Not Slides: How to Stop Burying Your Big Ideas

29 Apr 2011 4:13 PM | Deleted user
Editor's Note: This article was written by Beryl Loeb of The Loeb Group. Beryl Loeb is a trainer, coach and facilitator helping advertising, PR and web marketing agency professionals boost their communication and people skills. Beryl’s worked with agencies in Boston for thirty years. Learn more about her firm, The Loeb Group, and let her know if she can help you and your company at:

The team has been working on the product launch recommendation for four intensive weeks. You’ve scheduled a one-hour meeting with the General Manager of the Division, the VP of Marketing & Sales, and Advertising Director. There’s a high level of anticipation and excitement. The meeting starts with the typical handshakes and offers of food and beverage. As everyone settles in, all eyes turn to the agency team to kick off the meeting.

Here’s where most presentations go wrong: We tell the client we’re excited to share with them our big idea for the product launch and then introduce twenty to thirty data-packed, dense slides with our research (alternating slides of charts and bullets). Not too many huge ah-ha moments yet, but we’re definitely proving how much the agency knows and we want to firmly establish the context before sharing our big idea. More than thirty minutes into the one-hour meeting with the clients clearly getting impatient (and checking their Blackberries), we finally get to our big idea. You just have to look closely because it’s buried somewhere on yet one more bulleted slide, which we read so that the client doesn’t miss a word…Arrrrrgggghhhhhhh.

Rather than overwhelm your client with information overload (which you know in your gut is too much information):

1. Grab the clients' attention from the start by talking about them, their business and their opportunity (not seen through the lens of our hard work). Only talk about data that highlights an insight or is brand new to the client. If you have breakthrough customer testimonials, include three, four or five bubble quotes with just the salient points from the testimonials. The rest of your too-complex charts adn graphs can be included in an appendix.

2. Showcase your key points. Less is definitely more. Imagine one sentence in the middle of a slide. Or just three words. Or one picture. Too often we ask designers to jam-pack our slides with a crushing amount of information. Agencies are better served by editing, editing again and editing one more time (three times!) to make sure that they've culled out all extraneous information.

3. Don’t bury the big idea.  Imagine a drumroll building up to your unveiling of your big idea.  Set it up with a bit of drama -- presentations are theater! Let your body language (standing tall, arms open, big smile, eyes wide open with your eyebrows raised) and verbal delivery (a pause followed by exquisite enunciation) tease as you present your big idea.  Advance the slide to reveal a visually distinctive and compelling slide that launches your idea. Support the idea with a well-told story that reaches deep inside your client’s brain, soul and gut!

Decide right now that as you craft your next presentation you’ll remove all the barriers and clutter that make it hard for your clients to see your big idea – and importantly – how your big ideas will benefit their business!


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