Archive for

Presentation Skills and Media Training That Honor the Audience and Sharpen Your Marketing Message

“According to most studies, people’s Number One fear is public speaking. Number Two is death. That means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
– John Steinbeck, novelist

I’d like to thank a senior government bureaucrat for motivating me recently to do something I should have done years ago — add speech and presentation training to my offerings. As she stumbled through one image after another in a room darkened so that a bunch of breakfasting consultants could “see” a dense Power Point show with often unreadable slides, I asked myself: “What is her message? What does she want us to take away from her time with us? Why am I here?”

Effective presentations start with the same ingredients as effective writing: Know and communicate directly to the audience and their needs; strive to edify, not impress, in clear and concise language; and edit yourself — or rehearse, in the case of speaking.

A brief word about audience, whether they’re readers or listeners. If you’re communicating with, for instance, consultants, ask yourself: “How can I make my content useful to them? What specifically would they like to learn from our encounter to help them attract and keep clients?”

Answer those questions and you’ll be far less likely to stand up there — or tap away at the keyboard — trying to impress everyone with how much you know. And if you can avoid being so verbose that they’re glancing at their watches, you’re bound to get some provocative questions. In other words, you and your audience will connect.

Media Relations Training

“Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.”
– Cyril Connolly, English writer

Learning to deal with the press constructively need not be limited to traditional definitions of news. Some realistic role-playing in a training setting can, in fact, help you frame and sharpen your message for commercial purposes.

That’s where I can be of assistance. As a former newspaper and magazine reporter, I like to know how things work and what sets them apart. Then I pass on what I’ve learned in succinct prose, as Connolly noted.

Let me explain. A couple years ago, a clever nurse in Maine came up with a blend of four aromatic oils that she said eased the nausea of first-trimester pregnancy, chemotherapy and motion sickness. To help with marketing, I put her through the sorts of questions a reporter for the business section of a newspaper or magazine might ask. Then I wrote an article about her “aromatherapy,” which we discussed in detail for lessons learned.

The result? She and her marketing and investment associates came out of the exercise with a much clearer view of how the public would perceive their unusual product. The questions I asked were born of healthy skepticism, and she said she planned to adjust her pitch accordingly.