Get to the Point
Get straight to the point! Far too often, I am presented with slide after slide about how good their software is or their customized solution to their problem. They never get to the point. Please show me the software.
In this rant article, I will explain some key problems with today’s presentations and some ways to overcome them. We can do better than this!
There are plenty of lousy presentation habits to choose from. Here is a list of just a few:
- Starting Late
- Malfunctioning Equipment
- Boring Slides
- Going on a Tangent
The list goes on and on. However, I want to focus on one of my biggest pet peeves.
Far too often, presenters like to give a long-form agenda. Then they give a screenshot of the software they are promoting. One static screenshot after another static screenshot of the software. They don’t seem to get to what the software solution is solving until the end of the presentation.
The problem statement: The organization needs to scan PDF files and make them editable in an editor.
Usually, the presenter would start by displaying a clear agenda. Then, they would show some of the high-level hardware or software architecture. Perhaps, even a diagram about how to set this system up in a production-like environment. Then, the presenter would display diagrams and pictures and throw all kinds of buzzwords over the slide. Finally, they’ll have pictures and diagrams displaying the output if you run the software.
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Skip the B.S.
It’s time to skip the B.S. Open the software and run it – in front of me. Live! That’s right, double-click on the icon for the software you’re trying to sell, and convince me that this is a solution to my organization’s problem. Run the software. It’s that easy.
Bonus points – run the software on an example of representative data. Even better, if you want to impress your presentation audience, or the purse strings, ask for representative data. Then, during the presentation, you run the software on specific data from the organization.
Don’t present a PowerPoint slide with the example data you provided; subsequently, show the static output. Run the software – that’s how you impress an organization. Time is valuable. Get to the point.
This is a common problem I see throughout many presentations during meetings – even so-called live demonstrations. One way to overcome this is to present by getting straight to the point. I don’t want to see an agenda unless it’s two or three bullet points and you can speak it very fast (I know why I am here). I want to get to the point of what problem you will solve for my organization. So, during your presentation, start doing this. Start showing the solution to a problem in real time.
Common ways to get back on track
- Begin by acknowledging the person’s thoughts and ideas, showing that you understand and value their perspective.
- Express that you understand their point of view but that you also have limited time or a specific goal for the conversation.
- Gently remind them of the main topic or purpose of the conversation and ask if they could focus on that.
- Suggest that you discuss any additional points or information later so that you can stay on track now.
- Ask them to address the main point directly.
- Avoid sounding dismissive, critical, or rude in your request, and use a polite and respectful tone.
Example: “I understand your perspective and the points you are trying to make. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to explain it. But, I think to make the best use of our time together, we should focus on the main topic of our meeting. Could you please address the main point directly? We can discuss any additional points or information at a later time. What do you think?”
Know your Audience
You know what? Most of your audience is probably going to be non-tech savvy. So, solve the problem from a business-minded perspective. I don’t care if it takes 2 seconds or 10 seconds to OCR a document. I don’t care. What I do care about is that it can do this in the background or show me that you can run this today, right now, during the meeting, and it works. That’s what I care about.
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Also, we must learn to use real-world practical analogies when we’re doing a demonstration for a presentation. Far too often, the presenters are talking in a different language altogether. It’s time we bring it back to reality. The reality is that I want to solve a business problem, period. I’m serious about this. I don’t care about the jargon. I don’t care about the specifications. I don’t care about any of those buzzwords. I care about the end-user who’s seeking a solved pain point. Did you solve their problem as the presenter?
Always ask yourself, for every statement you claim, how this helps the end-user. If you can’t come up with an answer, that is, a business-minded answer, then you’re not helping to solve a problem. You’re simply trying to sell a technology the organization does not need. To reiterate, relate every statement in your presentation to how it will help the end user. It’s that simple. This is a frustrating topic because so much time is wasted in these meetings and demonstrations. It’s time to take our time back. I hope that you can believe that you can make a difference with your next presentation.