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#646: More Data Won't Make Your Presentations More Compelling

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 05, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 05, 2011
For all the analysis consultants do for our clients, it seems that no matter how much analytic findings we present, some clients either want more data or "have to think about it." We're highly regarded in the analysis department and it isn't all clients, so we have to consider it is the nature of the presentation itself.

Remember, presentations are not what the word implies. This is really not about just "presenting" information in an attempt to inform the audience. Our work for clients does include analysis and sharing the findings and recommendations. However, it is really about creating a compelling case for clients to take some kind of action. We want them to do something because they feel they must. not overwhelm them with numbers in the hope that logic will prevail.

A century ago, business advertising was primarily aimed at convincing consumers (that includes other businesspeople) that the features of the product were superior. After Edward Bernays and others discovered that people were compelled by emotion, advertising, public relations and business persuasion changed. Advertising uses storyboards to create that emotion and put you in the mood to buy. Because we are now so familiar with this way of interaction, your clients implicitly want to be told, or sold, on a story of your findings.

Corporate storytelling is now a profession. Look at executive speeches over the past decade and you will see that the best ones are ones that weave a story through the facts. Approach your presentations with storytelling in mind, supported by the facts as needed. As the saying goes, "you can't displace by logic that which was arrived at by emotion." If you don't know the emotional state you wish to displace in your clients, then any presentation will be a hard sell.

Tip: A resource I highly recommend is Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Author Nancy Duarte provides a professional guide to understanding and delivering great presentations that resonate with audiences and compel an emotional reaction.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  customer understanding  innovation  presentations  recommendations  trends 

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