The Anatomy of a Great Presentation

What is a great presentation? As a hypnotherapist, NLP and hypnotherapy trainer, as a former top training administrator for 40,000 American soldiers, and as professional speaker, I have some very definite ideas of the structure of phenomenal presentations. I’ve studied many of the most inspirational speeches of the Western civilization and reviewed numerous talks by talented presenters who command $10,000 to $20,000 per keynote. What I’ve learned is contrary to most conventional thought.

The best speeches violate the mold which is typically taught to neophyte speakers. Back when Neil Armstrong was taking the “giant step for mankind” in 1969, my high school speech teacher told us that a good speech has three components: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Back in the late 1970′s we told our young officers and sergeants to “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them.” Even the U.S. Army got away from this A-B-C model in the late 1970′s. However, at Toastmasters meetings I still hear that the age-old model is still the best way. So, what is a great speech?

For this article I’m going to concentrate the format of the most inspirational speeches of our time. Regardless, to a great extent my comments will apply to all presentations.

If I was to train a new speaker, I would start out by them just standing in front of a class or audience without saying a word. There would be no need to remember a speech. The only goal would be to make eye contact every individual in the room. While doing this I would advise the “speaker” to just focus on what they felt inside. At this point the only intent is to establish CONTACT and CONNECTION with the audience.

Regarding connection, a speaker must be able to communicate with all learning styles. This includes the slower paced kinesthetic learner, who appreciates slower paced words, and low, below the waist hand gestures. People with this learning style are the first with whom I connect. Next, I speed up my speech slightly, forming every word precisely, and using hand gestures at a level between the waist and chest, I bring the auditory learners on board. And, lastly I will raise my voice, quicken my speech, and use higher gestures to bring those ultra-fast visual learners into the fold. (Visual learners make up about 75% of the U.S. population and almost 100% of corporate leaders.) During the rest of the speech, I will vary my tone, speaking pace, and the range of my gestures so that I continually oscillate between the ways with which people of the various learning styles prefer to be communicated. You’ll know if you have successfully connected by carefully noticing the physiology of the audience and if they seem to be focused on your every word.

The second major stage is developing EMPATHY. Even if your comments are intended to be rather biographical, the goal is to have each and every attendee to associate mentally into your story. When you talk about joy or misery, they are seeing it through your eyes, hearing through your ears, and feeling through your body. Essentially, they become one with you.

Believe it or not, the next stage is to ensure that your audience does not have a clue where you are going with your comments. Even if they are totally in synch with you, if they understand where you are going, you are on the road to giving a forgettable speech. They must not have a clear picture where you are going with your comments. By purposefully using confusion, ambiguity, and conscious overload, you reduce the influence of the “critical faculty” of the conscious mind and prepare the audience for the big message. At this point they are highly suggestible and are ready to be influenced at the deepest level of the mind. No, not everyone will appreciate this style. There will still be the 5 percent of the audience who will not feel comfortable with your departure from a predictable (and boring) presentation. Yet, as most adults over the age of 25 have fully developed frontal lobes behind their eyes, they generally get an enjoyable “ah-ha” experience when they finally figure it out for themselves. This self-discovery gives the more mature learners a pleasurable and unforgettable experience.

Well, I think that I just gave my punch line away. The next stage happens when they are on the verge of this self-discovery, with highly suggestible minds, and ready for you to make the most memorable statements of your talk. This is when you hear such things as “I have a dream”, “Give me liberty or death”, or “Ask not what your country can do for you.” Like planting a flower seed, without the right preparation of the audience, your desired intent will never blossom.

After this point, remember then to slow your speaking, lower your gestures, and lower your volume. You do not want to upstage your own crescendo. This is a time to reduce the audience’s stress and allow them to kinesthetically process your message. Let them down easy. You’ve just created a higher level of stress, now it is the time for leave them with an impression that you have made them feel changed but relaxed. If you ever want to be invited back, don’t leave them with their “fight and flight” mechanisms intact. You want to be seen as a stress-reliever.

I’m fully aware that this process may not exactly meet every presentation need. But, if you give an inspirational speech with any other formula, you should not be surprised by your lack of success. Nevertheless, the principles of contact, speaking to multiple learning styles, balancing ambiguity and revelation, going from creating tension and stress to becoming a soothing and relaxing presenter is universal to all great presentation.

The A-B-C formula that I was taught back in sixties is obsolete, yet still prevalent in many management and speakers instruction. While it has served its role at one time, I have presented a much more powerful formula that has been used to inspire nations and change lives.

The 4 P’s of Marketing Your Product on the Internet

Unlike product management, product marketing focuses on the outbound marketing elements. There are four of these basic elements, known as the 4Ps. These 4Ps are product, pricing, placement, and promotion. Product marketing focuses specifically on marketing your product to current customers, prospects, and potential customers.

When you deal with product marketing in your business, you need to address four strategic issues. First, what product or products will be offered; in other words, what will be your product line? Next, you need to determine who your target customers will be. Then, how will your product(s) get to those customers. What distribution channels will you use? Finally, why should your customers choose your product(s) over the product (s) offered by any competitors.

New products pass through a number of stages. These stages start with their introduction, continue through their growth, pass through their prime, and eventually decline. This is a product life cycle or sequence that can be linked with changes that occur in the marketing situation and affect the marketing strategy.

When you introduce a new product, your first want to build awareness of the product. You need to establish the products branding and quality level, and be certain that you have the proper property protection, including patents and trademarks. You will decide on your pricing strategy, whether you are seeking to build your market share quickly with low pricing or to recover development costs with higher pricing. At first, distribution will probably be very selective as you seek to build consumer awareness and acceptance of your product. The promotion that you use at this point may be aimed at customers who are innovative and like to try new things before everyone else. You will be using your marketing communication to build product awareness and inform potential customers about your product.

During the growth period, you will be trying to build consumer preference for your brand or product and increase your share of the market. You will want to maintain product quality and may consider adding more features or services to your product. The pricing should be maintained at this point while you enjoy the increasing demand for your product. At this point, you may not have to be overly concerned about competition. Your distribution should increase and widen during this stage as demand increases and more customers want your product. Your promotion at this point will be aimed toward reaching a wider potential customer base.

When your product is in its prime, you will see that your sales growth may moderate or even shrink. Your objective at this point should be to defend your market share from any competitors that may be emerging while maximizing your profit. You may decide to improve some of the product features to make your product stand out again or lower your pricing due to new competition in the market. Your focus on distribution may become more intensive. You may even decide to offer incentives to increase customer preference for your product. At this point, your promotion strategy will be to emphasize how your product is different and better from any competitors in the market.

Eventually, sales of your product will decline. At that point you will have several choices. You could keep the product and possibly breathe new life into it by marketing new uses for it or even adding more features. You could simply harvest your product by trying to reduce your costs but continuing to offer it to loyal customers. Your ultimate choice at this point may be to discontinue the product and liquidate any inventory that remains, or else sell it to a different firm that is interested in continuing the product.

Clearly, the Internet has greatly changed the way that businesses can communicate with customers. Companies are no longer limited to communicating with their customers and potential customers using PR firms or expensive advertising formats. The rules have changed.

Consumers who visit your company’s web site are not interested in your slogan or your logo. They may be looking for the detailed description of your new product, what they really want is to find out how your product can solve their problem or serve their purpose. You can give them what they need with just the click of a mouse.

It is simple to use product marketing to leverage the potential of the Internet for your business. You can reach buyers directly, establish a personal connection with both current and potential customers, and even reach targeted niche buyers at a fraction of the cost of older advertising techniques. You can easily learn how to post the content that people want to read and discover what search engines look for. The Internet can provide you with the best way to market your product.

Innovation Happens When You Are Presented With a Problem

The study of innovation in the workplace focuses on moving beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary success. It is about channeling or harnessing the spirit of your workforce’s optimistic tendencies and pushing the limits of what you thought you were capable of producing or achieving in your business. It is about celebrating your strengths and maximizing your attributes and about moving the needle in the right direction to achieve successes that you never could have imagined. If you look, innovative individuals can be found in every community or business. They will be the individuals or groups that have been given the same resources but for some reason have found a practice or a behavior that enables them to find better solutions to problems.

Innovation theory focuses on demonstrations of excellence when organizations and their members break free from the constraints of norms and perform some extraordinary action. It is advantageous for every company or boss to find ways to get their employees to want to work beyond normal levels because when they do, output levels increase. If employees are involved in pushing boundary limits, higher engagement and increased job satisfaction occurs. Innovation happens, new inventions are thought of and processes are streamlined. Money is saved and new technology is achieved all because someone paid attention to something that was a little outside of what we normally do and said, “Hmmm… your different way seems to be working a little better than the way I have been doing it. Let’s try your way for awhile.” Pretty soon, everyone realizes that the experiment works a little better so it becomes the new standard of behavior. It’s as simple as that. So the question then becomes, how do you keep your performers motivated to keep moving the line of what is acceptable output and raising the bar higher on their own performance? How do you get your people to want to “Think outside of the box?”

There are so many reports, books, seminars, videos and trainings out there to help your company capitalize on innovation. Innovation is such a vague and broad term unless you can manage to tailor it to what works for you and your product or employees. I think what I would want someone to take away from my fascination with the merits of innovation in the workplace is that it is about fostering the spirit of innovation in your employees and building the desire for them to want to be innovative for the benefit of your company. So many companies are trying to compete in tightening economic conditions. With job cuts, increased job responsibility and company closings, streamlining processes, creating new products, expanding on existing ones and finding ways to make your company more successful are all very desirable, especially if your employees are the ones generating the ideas. The key is that it needs to be simple and relatable for your employees. They need to be able to understand it and see how it applies in their world and how it will make a difference if they switch to an innovative way of thinking. It can’t be so complex that there is no buy-in and it can’t be so complex that it takes years to implement and measure. The buy-in does need to be complete and affect all levels of management because leading by example is critical if you are going to change the culture of your business. If you and your upper level managers don’t understand it, you probably won’t be able to explain it or demonstrate it to others consistently.

Wow. The idea of changing how a company thinks still sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? I promise it can be done. I have seen it happen. I can show you examples of companies that have done it. I can show you statistics of companies that have increased their profit, saved countless jobs and revolutionized industries. I can give the names of fifty books that will make you jump up and say, “A ha! That’s it!” But without a simple plan to follow and a place to start, most of you will still feel overwhelmed and a little nervous about making such a dramatic change in your organization. Don’t get me wrong, I want you to feel as strongly about how great an innovative workplace can be. I want you to believe it and want it for your company and your people but if I don’t help you come up with the rough draft of a plan, this will might be just another book with a few great “A ha” quotes.

The dictionary says that Innovation is the introduction of something new. It derives from a latin word innovatus which means to renew or to change. Generally innovation refers to the creation of better products, services, technology or process. The words innovate or innovation have been buzz words for a decade describing everything from Apple iPods to car technology. It obviously isn’t a new concept. Anytime there has ever been a need for a new product or design to make our lives better pr something more efficient, some brilliant person was there to solve the problem. That’s how we got the light bulb, the computer, cell phones, space travel.

It isn’t different when you are thinking about your company. You have (x) amount of people that work for you that are specialists in a certain field or area. These folks know how things work and how to get the most out of your product. Have you ever challenged them to look at something just a little differently? Have you ever pushed them to produce just a few more of something in the same time limits? How about do the same amount of work with five less people?

Most of you are now saying to yourself that there was so much push back. You heard excuses like, “It can’t be done. Impossible.” There was probably some dissention. There might have been grumbling and complaining in the break room or at the water cooler. You might even have people that start looking for new jobs. But what if I told you that if your organization’s culture supports teamwork, loyalty, commitment that there are some studies that suggest lower turnover, absenteeism and higher retention. Companies that foster innovation are also shown to retain and recruit more highly skilled and trained personnel. Why? Because they are engaged in your business and want to succeed. Because they are part of the process and they feel ownership. They have access to knowledge and look for ways to build upon your business’ successes, failures and history. Individuals that are part of an innovative society don’t hear “I am cutting your friend’s job and all the workload is falling on you.” They hear, “We are struggling and there is an opportunity for us to pull together and get over this hurdle.” They hear, “The way the assembly line is working right now is going to work for one person, but if we slow the speed down, one person can produce the same amount of widgets if they work one half hour of overtime each day.” They hear, “If we study the hours that we have highest customer counts and staff accordingly, we can better serve the customer.” Not, “The sky is falling because I have to reduce staffing hours. We can’t make it.” We only think when we are presented with a problem. JOHN DEWEY

Thinking outside the box is a phrase that refers to looking at a problem from a new perspective. It is widely used by management consultants and performance coaches. Analyze or re-analyze the root of your problem and the rules. This will provide and a wider look at different solutions. If moves you to investigate the boundaries of the solution, perceptions and possibilities. Finally, it illustrates that repeating the same process over and over without finding the right answer does not work. You have to look at the situation differently and in a different way in order to see the answer.

It is universally accepted that innovation is a way that companies can insure future growth. Developing a learning type of environment or attitude is critical to encourage this growth. Recent studies have listed a few inhibitors to look out for when building this type of organizational environment. Long development times, a risk avoiding culture, having limited insight to customer needs, poor marketing and communication abilities, poor measurement tools or processes and possibly reduced or inefficient relationships with vendors or suppliers.