A group of executives gather each week to learn how to improve their businesses. I was invited to speak to them about how more engaging presentations delivered by their employees to audiences of customers and prospects would increase their stream of revenue.
My first point was to 'Put the Audience First' by customizing every presentation and reducing the use of canned content taken from the company's slide library. I've never seen an audience sit at the edge of their chairs, look at the presenters, ask questions and invite them back when the content was a set of slides the marketing department prepared to boast about their capabilities.
Most of these execs argued strenuously with me that consistency of the message delivered by these presenters was critically important. "What if someone says something wrong?" "What if they forget a point?" "What if they go off topic?"
What if they do any or all of these things? Will the world as we know it come to an end? Of course not! In fact, the audience will feel that the presenters are real human beings that they might like to get to know better. They'll never feel that way about a canned presentation written by the nameless, faceless marketing or technical departments.
Here are the top three problems with canned presentations:
- They reflect a lack of trust by the execs for the presenters. If the executive doesn't trust the presenter, how can the audience trust the presenter?
- They reflect a lack of internal education on how the company serves it customerrs. There is no substitute for a presenter who speaks authentically from their experience about the value of the company to its customers.
- They totally ignore the unqiue needs of each audience. No audience has the same needs, priorities, questions, challenges and issues as every other audience. If your presenters can't talk to every audience individually, why would you expect them to do business with you?
Take three steps to stop the pursuit of consistency: 1) trust your people; 2) educate them fully and give them coaching to reassure yourself that they represent your company well; and 3) respect every audience's unique point of view.
Then you can enjoy the stream of interest and revenue coming into your company as a result of these customized presentations delivered by people who feel proud that you trust and educate them.