Keys to Making Your Business Presentations Sparkle


Are you tired of giving stale business presentations that bore your audiences to the outer galaxy of Ad Nauseam and back?

ad nauseum

Well, we’ve got one hell of an innovative solution to get your company ahead of the pack. After all, you’re a talented, under-appreciated and underpaid genius that just needs to be recognized for your vision and contribution to the work force all these years!

Ahem, sorry. I was just test-driving a new technique I learned at a recent conference. The trick? Tell your audience how boring and uninteresting their present lives are, only to whip them up into a fervor by telling them how they’re part of an innovative solution for a better future!

Alexis and I attended the SOLD OUT Communicators Conference in downtown Portland sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America and the Oregon Columbia Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators of Columbia-Willamette. Scoring tix to this event was like the PR equivalent of getting tickets to the sold out Sasquatch Music Festival – only, instead of throngs of bleary-eyed teens eagerly awaiting their favorite rock bands, this event featured hordes of coffee-crazed communication professionals donning casual business wear and crammed into the main ballroom of the Sentinel Hotel. The focus was on becoming better storytellers to successfully convey messages to your target audiences.

Evita speaking to crowd

Evita Peron, an amazing orator and interesting case study in Nancy Duarte’s talk.

The conference featured great presenters, but the one who stole the show for us was Nancy Duarte, a successful entrepreneur whose business helps companies with oral presentations. She’s also the author of “Resonate: Present Visual  Stories that Transform Audiences.” Her presentation centered around her own empirical research gleaned from famous speeches in recent and distant history, using Steve Jobs, Ghandi, MLK, Evita and, even Jesus to exemplify her points. She says she uses her findings in her work to help companies develop better presentations during oral engagements, and did a fantastic job herself. But why take our word for it?

Check out a TEDx talk she gave on the very subject earlier this year:

Here are some takeaways for an effective presentation, from Nancy’s talk:

        • The most effective way to communicate ideas is through storytelling.
        • At the beginning of any presentation/story you need to establish what is – the status quo.
        • Make the status quo and the normal unappealing. Next, draw them toward a better, brighter future using your idea as a catalyst – what could be.
        • Compare and contrast the  boring/unacceptable present to what could be – and make that gap as big as possible – amplify that gap!
        • Traverse between what is and what could be several times. The great orators did this, but their use of gaps and time varied for their desired dramatic effect.
        • Your presentation should support why your audience should want to get to that new great place.
        • The last turning point is a call to action, but at the very end.

For more:

Nancy Duarte demonstrating the what is/what could be technique.

Nancy Duarte demonstrating the what is/what could be technique.

walkie talkies

Voxer’s new app is a “10-4, good buddy”

by Cam Clark

voxer logo

Do you ever read a text and swear you can hear the person on the other end saying it? Well, you might be hearing things, or you might just be using the new app Voxer.

Voxer is a walkie talkie application for smartphones that lets you send instant audio, text, photo and location messages to one or a group of your friends. Now, I know the the thought of a walkie talkie on a smart phone isn’t exactly a revolution. You would think it’s maybe even a step backwards. However, Voxer solves a major problem for me – texting.

voxer app I am not one that enjoys jamming out text on a smart phone. I have tried and been disappointed with today’s talk-to-text translators, such as Dragon. They tend to be cumbersome and error prone. Even as easy as today’s phones have made it to type, it’s still irritating to thumb your way through the alphabet. Then there are those texts that get interpreted the wrong way, and we have all had them. I would much rather talk than type.

Some would ask, “Why not just call?” To that I say that there are many social norms attached to calling someone. When you just need a quick answer, these niceties can feel bothersome and time consuming. But you don’t have to worry about being potentially interruptive, salutations or the obligatory need to carry on a conversation when texting. It’s perfectly socially acceptable to leave them out when communicating through that medium.

Looking forward at the industry as a whole, I can absolutely see this capability being implemented as part of the next iteration of MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) on all mobile phones. While this is unfortunate for Voxer, it’s good for you and me.

I have found myself a little obsessed with this app lately and I hope you will be, too. Check it out for iOS or Android and tell me what you think. Can you see yourself finding this type of communication useful?

stick stock kids

Young millennial pros teaching new tricks to old marketers

izzy lucaI confess that I’m obsessive about how millennials are changing how we all communicate.

In an interesting Advertising Age article last week, MTV senior VP of strategic consumer insights and research Nick Shore outlined lessons marketers can learn from the “digilife” of Gen Y (born 1977-1997).

millennial graphGeneration Y grew up in a digital world. Their older Gen X siblings (born 1965-1976) make up the small bridge generation between Boomers and Gen Y. As Shore notes, “Many Gen-Xers were already in their 20s before email became part of everyday life – and maybe into their 30s before the BlackBerry did.”

My cohort, the Silent Generation, is already out of the workforce (though I have refused to act my age and retire). Email was something revolutionary when it emerged in the 90s. Today, Gen Y considers email the new snail mail, preferring texting and tweeting rather than sending messages to wait in someone’s inbox next to Netflix ads and pleas from Nigerian bankers.

Gen Y adults came of age comfortable with the full array of digital tools. And their use of these tools is reshaping our world and how we communicate.

Their most significant influence is evident as young adults all over the world are using digital tools and social platforms to empower their generation, boost their self-confidence and push innovation even faster.

The Gen Z cohort (born 1998-present) is even more fluent in the digital world. Two weeks ago, one of our grandchildren used an office phone to call her mother. When she was done, she studied the handset and finally asked how she was supposed to end the call. She’d never seen a phone with a cord before and had no idea that putting the handset in the cradle would end the call.

Who knows what the next communication innovation will be? All we know for sure is that what we rely on today will seem as quaint next year as that corded phone.