How can you spot a bad presenter?
Walk into any business, anywhere in the world. If someone happens to be standing in a conference room, in front of a screen, it’s a pretty safe bet they’re in that extensive pool of yawn-makers. These presenters are legion. They are the guys that make you want to listen to Ice Ice Baby on repeat.
But, what makes so many business people such bad presenters? To discover why, let’s buy a car.
Clint Bass had a bank account flush with lottery winnings and an urge to spend-up. As he stepped into the showroom he saw it instantly. The car of his dreams. The latest European sports with all the trimmings. And why not? Money was no object. Choosing the correct set of lucky numbers had seen to that.
Clint located the closest salesrep and pointed at his new baby. “I want this one.”
The rep smiled and came over. “I’m Murray. Very nice choice.”
Excited to be exchanging some of his winnings for a new machine, Clint blurted out, “Is it available to drive away today?”
“I’m afraid not. We will select your personalizations today and it will be ready by this time next week.” Clint looked like he’d had the wind suddenly knocked out of him. Realizing how deflated Clint had become, Murray tried to salvage the situation. “You’re going to love the personalization process! I just need to run you through a short presentation and then we can get started. Come with me into the office.”
Like an obedient dog Clint followed Murray into the office and took a seat. Coffee was served while Murray started tinkering with his laptop.
“Just let me get this hooked up to the projector. Won’t be a moment.” Murray pushed buttons and flicked cables around while Clint sipped his coffee and silently steamed that he wouldn’t be driving his dream car home tonight.
It wasn’t long before Clint had taken his last sip. “Almost there,” said Murray as another cable was jammed into the slide of the laptop. Clint scanned around the room for a refill. He spied a coffee pot in the corner and filled his cup.
A few minutes later the projector screen sprang to life along with a slightly frazzled Murray.
Clint was frustrated. A good 30 minutes in, none of his lottery winnings spent, and the prospect of a lot of talking and bad coffee to come. He put down his third cup and examined the screen. “Thank you for choosing Henrichson Motors” slide number 1 announced.
“Okay, let’s get started.” said Murray. “Thanks for choosing Henrichson Motors.” he dutifully read from the slide. He pressed the ‘next’ button on his laser pointer. Nothing. “Oh, woops, I forgot to plug in the USB connector. Give me a second.”
Clint scrambled for another refill. Were the slides, the laptop, and the laser really necessary? He just wanted to buy a car. Surely an application form with a few checkboxes was all that was necessary.
USB now secure, slide 2 appeared on the projector screen. Save for the headline announcing how personalizable the car is, the slide was blank. Murray looked at the screen, pressed the laser pointer, and bullet point number one faded in. As Clint began reading to himself Murray interrupted his thoughts and read out loud, “Today you will personalize your new driving experience.” Click!.. and onto bullet point number two.
Five bullet points later, Clint checked his watch and sighed. Maybe he should have considered a Harley.
What’s going on?
Would a automobile salesrep really behave this way? No, of course not. If Clint really had to suffer through a presentation like this he would most likely walk out of the showroom. No one in their right mind would put up with this kind of presentation when they just want to buy a car.
But we tolerate this kind of thing in business everyday. Why?
Everyone simply accepts these kinds of presentations because that’s what most business people do.
It would never work in a sales environment like automotive because the rep is focused on the audience, the customer. The rep has to focus on the customer because that’s how he’ll get the sale. Focus on giving the customer what they want, what they need. Keep the customer happy and the money comes in.
In business, we tend to have a different focus. Our goal is getting through the presentation. Who cares about the audience? We just want to get through the presentation, get to the end, with the least amount of pain possible. Trouble is, the focus on just getting it done makes the experience terrible for our audience.
What makes a bad presentation? A focus on getting through it rather than a focus on keeping the audience happy.
I’d love to know your thoughts.