Latest "Business presentations" Posts
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates
Wise words from Microsoft’s co-founder & former CEO, now philanthropist.
That quote is especially relevant to two specific occasions in Microsoft’s history in 2012 and 1995 — when the tech giant had epic fails during live product launch presentations.
The most recent incident featured Microsoft’s former President of Windows and Windows Live Division, Steven Sinofsky, as he delivered the official launch presentation for the Surface tablet. Right in the middle of his presentation, the tablet seemed to crash, resulting in a painful 20 seconds where he said, “Excuse me just a second” before running to grab a backup tablet behind a lectern that was ready to go.
An article in Entrepreneur, 7 Deadly Sins of Business Meetings, reminded me of something that happened to a colleague a few years ago — long before webinars became common as effective remote employee communication business tools.
The issues that Mary ran into have not changed. She’d been recently promoted. As part of her new job duties, she facilitated a weekly sales meeting with regional sales staff, all done by conference call.
As the weeks went by, Mary began to notice that people joined the call later and later, and whenever the weekly meeting came up in conversation, it was increasingly obvious that no one was happy with them – and, in fact, considered them a waste of time. She finally pulled two sales managers aside to determine what was happening.
Virtual Presentation Skills:
Connect With Your Next Remote Audience
Did you know that to be successful, virtual presentations require different tactics than in-person meetings do? That’s because it’s much harder to tell whether or not your audience is truly engaged when you can’t see them.
Let me share a cautionary tale. An insurance exec I know – Pete — was quite confident in his webinar delivery skills – even to the point of arrogance. He often bragged about his virtual facilitation skills to colleagues and supervisors alike. “Webinars? Piece of cake. Everyone loves my webinars.”
I was observing Pete facilitating one of his regular weekly WebEx team meeting when we heard a beep-boop-beep on the line: the sound of a phone being dialed. When he asked who was making that sound, he was met with silence.
You’ve probably told many stories in your life. It’s a natural part of human conversation: “Hey, listen to what happened to me today!”
But when it comes to giving a business presentation, and including a story within it, there are some pointers about effective storytelling that you need to know. Ask any best-selling novelist and he or she will likely tell you that the best novels have a specific structure, and the best stories also do.
Luckily, this structure is innate in how we communicate. It’s the way we naturally tell a story.
If, however, you are trying to make a point or get a certain message across by using a story in your business presentation, being consciously aware of this structure will help. It will keep you from rambling, from wandering off on a tangent, from including things that dull down the power of the story, and from losing your audience’s attention.
You’re giving an important presentation to audience members who might not be entirely sympathetic.
Maybe it’s delivering news of downsizing, or a reduction in hours. Maybe it’s sharing bad sales statistics. Or, maybe it’s trying to sell an idea for change that’s not popular.
Whatever the message, the people staring back at you from the seats probably don’t know who you are.
They are a captive audience, compelled to attend your talk by company policy or their managers, whether they like it or not.
You already know they are not inclined to think about the issue or idea you’re presenting the same way that you do. So, now what?
If your goal is to open or even change their minds — to persuade, to get them to take the action you need them to take or see the issue in a more favorable light — what are your options?