Giving a conference presentation isn’t as easy as it might seem. You have to speak loudly, clearly, intelligently, and say something that is interesting. You also have to avoid… the dreaded sales pitch. As soon as I notice that a conference presentation has turned from educational to salesucational, a few things start to happen. My live blog posts get shorter and shorter until I just delete them, and my tweets gradually turn from content rich to dessert rich.
Surprisingly, not everyone knows what constitutes salesucational. So here are some indicators.
More than 2 minutes are spent describing the company behind the presentation. In some cases, you may need to describe what your company does so that the audience can understand your talk. However, you can usually get away without doing so. You can say things like “This project used social media listening research to collect data from the internet and analyze the sentiment and content.” You don’t need to say “COMPANY NAME specializes in TRADEMARKED PRODUCT NAME, a unique and unparalleled product that can’t be purchased anywhere else.”
The company name is mentioned more than once. Actually, you can deliver an entire presentation without mentioning the company name a single time. You don’t need to say “Here at COMPANY NAME, we believe strongly in validity.” You can say things like “I believe strongly in validity.” You don’t need to say “COMPANY NAME employed the highest standards of quality in this project.” You can say things like “The highest standards of quality were used in this project.” Even better, just tell me what the standards were.
The slides have trademark and copyright symbols. There is an easy solution here. Any time one of those marks appears, delete it and the word it is used with. Remember, the presentation is not about Conversition, Ipsos, or ICOM. It’s about the methodology employed in the research study.
The presenter offers to discuss their product with you after the presentation. Conference presentations are not discussions of products. They are discussions of methodologies and theories. It is fair game for presenters to offer to chat with audience members about techniques for ensuring quality and validity after the presentation, but there is no reason for a presenter to suggest to audience members that they discuss a branded project after the presentation.
Now you may ask, why present if no one knows what company I represent? Simple. Your name and your company name will be on the first slide, the last slide, or both of your presentation. Your audience is capable of remembering that information IF your presentation deserves it. Further, if your presentation is good enough, useful enough, impactful enough, people will search for you in the brochure even if they forgot the name from your slides.
If you are still unsure, there is a very simple rule to follow. Never mention any trademark names, company names, or product names. Your best sales pitch is an excellent quality presentation.