As a conference speaker, the best sales pitch you can offer on stage is a presentation that educates and entertains the audience. One that explicitly shows them you understand what the audience needs.
I chat with a lot of speakers who assure me they didn’t do a sales pitch and then are astonished to find out that they did. I also chat with other speakers who are so paranoid about NOT doing a sales pitch that they strip out all the good parts of their presentation. Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to prevent both of these situations.
Ban these words
Never say the word we. Never say the word our. Never say the word us. These tiny unassuming words automatically turn the most glorious presentation into a horrid sales pitch. And your audience has no need for a sales pitch. They are sitting in front of you because they are desperate for knowledge and insights. They want to know your personal opinion, what you have discovered from your techniques. They want to engage with and listen to you as a person. They’d rather not tweet how boring and out of touch you were.
Don’t name-drop your products
Companies spend thousands of dollars trademarking brand names. While it’s helpful to have names so that your employees and your clients know that they’re all talking about the same thing, no one in the audience cares about your cutesy names. They don’t care that you use SalesForce or SurveyMonkey. They care that you understand marketing and research. So if you find yourself wanting to say the name of a tool while you’re talking, instead simply say ‘these types of tools’ or ‘these types of companies.’ I can assure you that you don’t need to use any of your brand names or trademarked names in your presentation.
Don’t describe your company
Your audience doesn’t care about your company and they certainly don’t need you to present a detailed explanation of all the products and services your company offers, even if that slide only takes 3 minutes. That slide explaining your company needs to be turned into a discussion of how your specific topic impacts the industry. Don’t tell the audience that Annie Pettit Consulting is a business that combines artificial intelligence and eye tracking. Instead, tell the audience that eye tracking has seen huge advancements with the application of artificial intelligence. Strip out the branded content and focus on the educational content.
Don’t describe your company philosophy
Don’t waste valuable presentation time talking about your company mission and philosophy. It is not important for the audience to understand your company philosophy in order to understand the research. The audience doesn’t need to know that your company believes research should be easy. The audience DOES need to know how research can be made easy. They also don’t need to know that your mission is to solve problems. Instead, explain to them how research processes can be used to solve problems.
What is your reward?
If you do a great job of educating and entertaining your audience, they will line up to ask questions, get your business card, and they will email you afterwards asking for advice and copies of your presentation. Guaranteed.
Every person who’s ever sat in a conference audience
It’s possible that I’ve attended too many conferences in the last few years as I have witnessed more terrible presentations than I would have ever wanted. If you are eager to make it to the top of my WORST PRESENTATION EVER list, here are a few tips to follow.
- Dress to impress. Pick out your crappiest jeans and throw on a wrinkled shirt. This will show everyone that you’re far too important to care how you look at such an inconsequential event like this.
- Do a sound check as soon as you step on stage to begin your talk. This is necessary because the sound team generally forgets to monitor the sound of speakers and they need you to remind them.
- Stand directly behind the podium with your hands firmly clasped to the edge. This way, you will appear in complete control of the podium. Your power and importance will be obvious. And, you will be perfectly positioned with your face hidden behind the microphone .
- Read your speech. Everyone knows that grammar is important. By reading your speech, you will be assured that no one can judge you for misusing a verb tense or uttering an incomplete sentence. Grammar nazis are everywhere.
- Mention your company name not once, not twice, but at least 20 times. People won’t know which company to rush over to and shake their money at if you don’t remind them every 30 seconds. Say things like, “At Company A, we believe that…” and “We used our own high quality research panel, Panel Awesomeness, to conduct this research.”
- Reference your work with as many important people and companies you can. Some people call this name dropping but they’re just jealous. They know that it’s proof you are highly skilled. Specifically, mention a project you plan to conduct with Stan or Diane or Pinterest or Apple. Be sure to refer to people casually so we think you are personal friends with them, and not just picked out from the article you read this morning.
- Use a laser pointer to highlight points that should have been obvious without a laser pointer. Because lasers are cool.
- Let people know that you aren’t good with numbers and your data guy can get back to them if need be. It’s good to show you understand your own weaknesses especially if you don’t want to bother to improve them.
- Be sure to choose good colours in your prezzie. Focus on complementary colours such as red font on green background or yellow font on blue background. They aren’t called complementary for nothing!
- Make sure to use 12 point font. Anyone who can’t read your prezzie from the back of the conference room is just too stupid to move to the front of the room and doesn’t deserve to read it anyways.
- Put equations on every page. It makes you look really smart so it doesn’t matter if people can’t read them due to fonts and layout.
- Don’t show any data. People aren’t concerned with details and they’ll believe everything you say anyways. Besides, numbers are hard to understand. [Insert whiny voice here.]
- Put clip art on every page. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t find a picture that actually demonstrated the point. People love pictures!
- How women should ask for a raise if they don’t want to follow Microsoft’s CEO advice of Trust Karma (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- Interesting infographic: How your brain sees a logo (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- Missing Data: Whose problem is it anyways? (web.peanutlabs.com)
I’ve used enough and been punished enough by ill-though out hashtags that I’ve put together a few tips to help save our fingers in the future.
- Assume many of your hashtag users will be typing with their thumbs on their cell phones. Thumbs get tired of gymnastics.
- Keep the hashtags short. My reco is 8 letters or less. Don’t waste my tweet allowance with your non-creative and overly long hashtag.
- Do not use numbers. They require fancy finger work on cell phones. (Sorry #MRIA2011)
- Do not use fancy characters like – or _ as they also require fancy finger work on cell phones. (Sorry #MRA_AC)
- Use capital letters on the first letter of each word. People don’t have to actually type the capitals to use the hashtag. (e.g., #BlogChat)
- Use meaningful words so non-users will recognize it. (e.g., #Research, #BlogChat)
- Along the same vein, avoid acronyms unless they are undeniably obvious (e.g., #SXSW, #ESOMAR)
- Do a search on Twitter and see if anyone else is using the hashtag already. (e.g., #MRX is 99.9% market research, 0.1% weather)
- If all else fails and you’ve been stuck with a hashtag like #follow_our_really_great_conference_4_ever, then program your phone to auto-correct to the hashtag. My phone auto-corrects “mr” to “#MRX #li”. During conferences, I change the auto-correct to whatever the conference hashtag is. Easy peasy!
- How Hashtags Improve Tweets (cindyronzoni.com)
- What sites can help me analyze a hashtag? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Why A Hashtag Is The First Thing You Need For Your Event (rushprnews.com)
- HashtagBattle – find out which hashtag is more famous (twi5.com)
Research is a pretty cool thing. We ask people what they think about products, and they tell us how to make them better. If we change the color of the packaging, like the research said we should, we can make more people buy our product. If we increase the size by 10%, we can make more people buy our product. If we answer the phones quicker, we can make consumers be more loyal to us.
The scientific experiment has taught us this. Test and control groups, dependent and independent variables, mixed random and fixed designs, oh the processes we use to learn how to make people like us.
I don’t think, though that this is the mindset that will “make” consumers be more loyal. You simply can’t “make” consumers be more loyal. Loyalty is a gift from your consumer, a prize you receive for doing things right, for treating them honestly and respectfully. They aren’t “your” consumers. They are consumers who choose you each and every time they walk in your store.
With that in mind, here are my 3 tips for forcing consumers to be loyal.
1) Listen – Listen genuinely, not because it’s your job but because you are a consumer yourself and know that consumers’ opinions matter.
2) Act – Only do research when you’re prepared to act on it. And act on the important findings, not on the cheapest findings.
3) Respect – Share what you have learned with your consumers whether good or bad. Make changes for the right reasons, be nice, be honest, do unto others…
You may not be able to force loyalty but you sure can set yourself up to receive it.
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