I’ve been working on some pretty high-power pitch presentations with clients recently. Normally we work by training people in how to make their own presentations, because that’s better value for money for them – it means they don’t need us to come along every time they need a new presentation or slide deck. This time, however, we made an exception (for good reasons, i promise).
So… Time to practice what we preach!
One of the unusual things I suggested to the client was part of a slide which illustrated the range of business sectors their service was applicable to, and the (vast) potential it has in those sectors: this was measured in
contacts/meetings/clients. Now normally I’d have found some slick, effective and visually appealing way to illustrate this but on this occasion I threw slickness out of the window and – instead of adding things to the slide – I had my clients, quite literally, draft Post-It notes with the names of clients (and potential) clients scribbled on them and then add these, live, literally and physically, to the screen that the slide was being projected onto.
The effect was dramatic.
Instead of a slick, prepackaged presentation, potential funders got something that looked a lot more raw, edge, current and ever-changing. What’s more, this kind of trick gets presenters out of their ‘fixed performance’ mindset and into a state of mind where they are talking excitedly about the Post-It notes (or rather the clients on them) in personal and animated ways. For example: “We saw them last week – lovely folks, seemed to like our stuff and said we should have an order by next Friday” or “Got a meeting with their CEO next Thursday at his place – could be exciting!”. The result was immediate, entertaining and – very! – effective.
Apart from the things I’ve mentioned above, what made this such an effective technique?
- It was different. Investers haver seen lots (and lots and lots!) of presentations. Some of them were better than others, but all of them were relatively sterile and safe. This trick was different from the norm
- It was risky. It stood out in part because it could have gone wrong but as it turned out, the occasional Post-It note that fluttered to the floor just added to the excitement.
- It matched the medium and the message. This was all about people talking to people – and nothing does that worse than the name (or image of the logo) of a company appearing on screen. But people talking about people….? That’s more like it!
- It upped the pace. Towards the end of the presentation a bit more speed and passion were a handy thing – not least because the very next thing to happen was the conversation by investors about how much to put in to the new company. Imagine coming into that discussion off the back of something as exciting as a barrage of “We are talking to….” statements!
Sometimes… just sometimes… it pays to be less slick! :) (Well actually, as you’ll now realise, it pays to look less slick!)