Thursday, 11 October 2012

How much does presentation failure cost your organisation?

This may come as a shock to some people: Virtually everybody performing presentations to an audience needs to improve in some way. And the potential lost revenue from not improving can be staggering.

Consider the following:
How much does a Pitch Cost to a client in your organisation? (PC)
The Number of pitches performed by your team in a week? (N)
What is the percentage Success Rate of those pitches? (SR)

Now consider your losses per week:

Lost Pitch Cost/week = PC x N x (100-SR)

This does not include the value of the contract lost to a competitor

Finally ask yourself this question:

If an organisation has a pitch conversion rate in the region of 65 - 75% a 10% increase in that conversion rate could be worth tens of thousands or millions to the organisation.  The cost of training staff to improve their presentation ability then becomes insignificant to the benefit available.

"How much would you invest to optimise presenting performance?" 

In the scenario above, as little as 1% of the potential gain could be enough and that as we say appears a 'no brainer'.

 Below are five tips to consider when organising training for colleagues in an organisation.

1. Individuals
Assess the staff members in any organisation as individuals. Do not treat them as equals, any training course should be bespoke to cater for individual needs.  Sending a colleague on a course for self confidence when they are already confident is not going to reap a high reward. Therefore pick and choose wisely the course that best matches the individual.  If you are unsure then get an expert in to assess presentations either by viewing in person or through video analysis.

2. Presentation
Consider the presentations that are currently used at your pitches.  Do they meet presentation rules? Are graphs too complex? Are people looking out of the slide rather than into the slide? So many presentations rely on the concept of bullet points. These are then used as the script for a presenter. Breaking away from this format of presentation is essential for any presenter.  Again if you are unsure about the quality of a presentation and specific rules then ask a professional, they will guide you through this process.

3. Perception
Training should not be perceived as negative.  Continual Professional Development (CPD) is an important feature of any successful organisation.  Perception by staff should be one of involvement and wanting to improve.  With the right training, staff will develop skills that may have being beyond yours and their expectations. The confidence generated and knowing they can compete in key areas can only filter through to an increased pitch rate.

4. Measure
Training staff is all well and good but remember to have a measure in place that allows you to easily quantify the improvement against cost. Economic and market forces would need to be considered within the equation so a simple increase in pitch success may not be sufficiently tight enough. Consider though the number of pitches generated by pre sales presentations, the cost of generating a pitch (time and materials), advertising coincidence and spin off publicity.

5. Coaching
Already mentioned in the introduction is that virtually everyone can benefit from presentation training, the level of training is the key factor.  Even the best presenters maintain a level of coaching which allows them to maintain a high level of CPD.  This coaching can be through direct meetings or via video analysis. Remember bad habits can easily manifest themselves over a period of time. A regular 'check up' will negate this possibility.

To summarise virtually everyone can benefit from presentation training, the hard part is admitting it and being honest to yourself. Once that initial step is taken there will be no looking back and your presentation style, technique and ability will grow with each successful presentation.

1. Individuals
2. Presentation
3. Perception
4. Measure
5. Coaching

The first step can be in buying a copy of The Presenter's Handbook, followed by a selection of courses from the 60 modules we have available which offer a truly customised course for your CPD.

ISBN 978-0-9571909-0-0

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Exhibition presentations.

As part of its role The Presenter's Handbook is asked by clients to view and comment on their presentations. This includes the general feelings of the audiences and their perception of the presentation.

On a recent trip to an exhibition I began to query whether the quality of the presentation actually mattered given the very poor presentation facilities open to clients. At The Presenter’s Handbook we feel it is the responsibility of the conference organisers to provide the facilities that allow speakers to present to the best of their ability. Conference organisers need to think long and hard about the venue layout. They have asked presenters to fill the schedule so at least give them the tools to make a good job.

During one trip to an exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham I witnessed the following.

Every presenter had to present from behind a lectern. This automatically creates a barrier between you the presenter and the audience. The one idea of a presentation is to breakdown any barriers between presenter and audience. Let the presenter move around the stage, a radio microphone is inexpensive. All presenters should be using a clicker of some description rather than relying on a mouse click to advance slides.

Visiting several of the break-out theatres created within the exhibition venue the same issue was evident.  It is fine having a projection screen but please have it high enough for those at the back to be able to view the slide content. The photograph below highlights this problem. The view from my seat was not brilliant to say the least. 

The best presentation in the world will not be received well given this scenario. Get the screens higher which will allow all to have a decent view of the presentation.

Seating at exhibition theatres we accept has to be at floor level. Else a cost of building lecture theatre style seating would be incurred.  If as a conference organiser you are placing seats in a venue do not have seats at the side of the lectern, all delegates see is a side view of the presenter and lectern. Having part of the slide deck obscured by a lectern is extremely frustrating as a visitor to a crowded theatre.

Make life easier for yourself and tell a story, do not simply read bullet points from a screen.  The slide is designed to be information for the audience not a prompt screen for you. Just because a graph appears in a typed report does not make it immediately relevant to a PowerPoint presentation. The two media can be treated independently, a report can contain complex graphical information as a reader has the time to analyse data. At a presentation in a conference venue the delegate does not have time to analyse the content. If it is relevant make the full graph available offline for download later.  Incidentally not one speaker I witnessed made their presentation available offline, to make the presentation carry more weight allow delegates to download or watch on-line.

As an invited presenter at a conference or exhibition you are walking into a theatre or venue that you have little or no control over. The issue lies with the organisers and their perceived perception of what makes a good venue. Poor seating arrangements, low projection screens and poorly positioned lecterns do not aid the presenter. If organisers have asked for presenters to fill a schedule allow those presenters to present to the best of their ability.  As a presenter make sure your message carries beyond the conference venue, make notes available off line. Greater detail can then be added to the presentation allowing for considered understanding and explanation for those particularly interested in the presentation.