Drop the Dreaded Sell-Job

Fun With Dick and Jane

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I love going to conferences. I get giddy with the anticipation of learning new things and when I’m the presenter, I can’t wait to share what I have learned. Over the years, I’ve figured out a few things that I want to see, and a few things I could do without, in presentations. So here goes.

  1. Drop the Dreaded Sell Job. That fact that you are standing at the front and everyone is staring at you is sell job enough. If your presentation is as great as you think it is, I’m going to squint really hard to see what your logo is and where you work. I’ll even save the conference brochure in which I put a smiley face 🙂 beside your name and try to link up with you afterwards. The quality of your insightful remarks and the passion you bring to the talk will sell me, not the repeated mention of “My company, Conversition Strategies, built this proprietary social media prediction model that you can only buy from us.”
  2. Demonstrate with Data. I may not understand what all the variables in your regression equation are but I want to see that you do. Put those tables on the screen even if I can barely see them. Give me the chance to draw my own conclusions about your data and see if I agree with yours. Maybe we can argue about it later and we’ll become fast friends.
  3. Chart a Great Chart. No, not 3D fluffy charts for the sake of having a picture on the page but a real chart that shows an interesting result. Pictures can often turn a huge table into a simple idea that everyone instantly understands. Aim for clarity not supermodel chartoons.
  4. Speak English. Synergistic, leveraging that harnesses the power of new paradigms doesn’t work for me. In fact, that’s going to start make me wondering what’s for lunch and whether I’ll see some nanaimo bars. I’m happiest with simple, action packed words. Think Dick and Jane.
  5. Don’t reuse, Do reinvigorate. I can think of one presentation that I have seen at least three times. The presenter just shuffles the slides and starts the speech. I can’t imagine a lazier or less caring presentation. I can understand that the topic may be the same, but for the sake of the folks in your audience who eagerly follow the topic at every opportunity they get, update your numbers, add new context, use different examples, include the latest information. Don’t teach me once and bore me to death twice.
  6. Prepare your own Presentation. There’s nothing more annoying than watching someone discover what the next slide is at the same time as the audience.
  7. Don’t run short and don’t run long. I know very well that it’s hard to time slides perfectly even if you’ve verbally rehearsed a presentation many times. If this is a problem you have, include extra slides at th end of the presentation that can be easily skipped if you are running behind. The conference organizers will thank you and so will the speaker immediately after you.
  8. Don’t be shy. Well, that’s not really what I mean. If you’re shy, you’re shy and that’s the end of the story. But, if you have interesting content, I won’t notice and I won’t care that you think you sound like an idiot. Besides, you probably sound fine.

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2 responses

  1. I agree with all of those. Often at conferences I go see presentations by new people rather than “Big Names” because I saw said Big Name’s presentation at conference seven years ago and it’s just the same.

    I don’t include the regression equation on the slides, usually, although I may have the R-square and significance. I tend to go for very sparse text and then talk because if you could just read the slides, you could stay home and I could email you my presentation.

    You have spotted my two pet peeves, presentations that are a string of either

    – “I’m so great. My organization is so great. Everything we do is great. Did I mention I’m so great?” I am happy for you that you have high self-esteem but I didn’t need to fly to another city and get up early to hear this

    – All the latest buzzwords strung together. If all of the trending topics in Twitter are found in the first paragraph of your presentation, a rewrite is in order!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Annie Pettit and Conversition, Jacobo Riquelme. Jacobo Riquelme said: RT @conversition: Drop the Dreaded Sell-Job http://goo.gl/fb/FF57a […]

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