Friday, 5 June 2009

Making things relevant

When you're presenting a subject to an audience, you're looking for 'relevance', to make the thing you're talking about fit a need that they have. Of course you are or what's the point in speaking?

So you could say that the real skill of a presenter, whatever the subject, is the ability to make it fit with the audience whoever they are. But as you know, there are many occasions that we are called upon to speak, when we don't know the audience at all well. It may be an introductory meeting, or a response to a request for information where we know one or two people in a crowd but not the rest. It's a real dilemma, but one that can be overcome with a little bit of thought.

I had a client a few years ago, who was a director of purchasing for a global motor manufacturer. He asked me to sit with him through a day of presentations from potential suppliers and give him my views on the quality of presentations that came before us. I had high hopes for the sessions as these were golden opportunities for the companies to make their pitches to someone who could place an order for tens of millions of pounds of products on the spot.

You'd think that they'd be as good as you'd find in the professional world of sales, wouldn't you? I thought so and I was wrong. It was an excruciating, though memorable experience. Most of the presentations were embarrassingly poor for similar reasons. Let's take one example-

But they weren't good

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