Infomercials and Presentations

The other day after days of struggling through an illness I finally gave in and stayed in bed most of the day. I usually go years without instances like these, in fact I did not miss a day in high school due to illness. As the years have passed and now I have my own children, who seemingly have brought every conceivable germ home from school known to man this year, I could go no more. Fortunately or unfortunately my marketing mind doesn’t sleep or succumb to illness, please don’t tell the kids they will work up one for that also. Boy or boy daytime television is jamb packed with marketing everything from insurance, wheel chairs to walk in bath tubs. Pretty well defined target audience I would say.

The part that we can learn from as marketers is the “how” not so much the “what” in the experience. Number one is the audience, they are in fact preaching to the masses of daytime television, retired or semi-retired Americans. Notice the use of power words over and over again in 30 seconds or even 2 minute commercials. The use of the words: free, no additional cost, easy, simple just one call, etc. These are just a few but boy do they create the urgency to buy. Even the use of symbolism, you can often see the American flag waving in the background, an eagle flying by, even the color schemes tend toward the ole’ red, white and blue.

Now let’s look at this from a whole marketing campaign. These companies did not start with television spots, they started quite likely with the telephone and if you notice the give a number to call not a web site to this generation. So I wonder after testing probably 20 – 30 phone scripts both opening and closing and settling on the ones that worked, I’ll bet almost 90% of those scripts are in those infomercials. Point is folks it all starts with a strong foundation and once you have that you can go wherever you want to advertise. But even after that and the success and the television ad campaign you still are directing the people to use the phone. The phone is where it all starts and ends in the marketing business.

Let’s look at the presentation part of the infomercial. If we were doing a phone presentation we would be looking at, at least 20 minutes of presentation time. With these ads we see a precise condensed version with two items always present on the screen. You guessed it the name and number to call. You see the company name and there number for the entire length of the infomercial, whether that is 30 seconds or two minutes. Additionally, there is little to no fluff, they get right to the product within ten seconds, then spend about 30% of the remaining time telling you about the product and finally pile on the testimonials.

It’s truly an art to watch and learn from these marketing giants. The great part is that as we hone our craft we can continue to grow and if we so desire in a few years be the next generation of infomercials or in time most likely something even more eye catching. Hope to see you there.

Business Presentations – Are These The Ten Most Irritating Mannerisms?

Being able to give some sort of presentation is almost a given today, whether in business or not and they come in all shapes and sizes.

And there are certain mannerisms of the speaker that really irritate people and turn them off and unfortunately more often than not the speaker is unaware of them.

Some of them seem to be obvious and common sense but in my experience unfortunately common sense is not all that common.

And anyway why does it matter? Well, if you are irritated or switched off in the audience are you more or less likely to do business with them or recommend them to some one else?

It can have a detrimental effect on the business results and I have come across examples of companies losing significant contracts as a result.

I’ve been doing some research with those in procurement to find out their top 10. Interestingly enough many of them refer to PowerPoint. ( Is this because people feel they can’t present without it now?)

They’re shown below, with comments as to why they annoy and a tip as to how to avoid each one.

(They’re not in any particular order)

1. Doing a PowerPoint presentation and then walking backwards and forwards in front of the screen.

I just want to shout “Stand still!” You can’t see them properly because of the light and you can’t read the screen either. It drives me nuts.

Tip: Don’t be a “Wandering star”. Practice standing still when giving your presentation so as not to distract the listeners.

2. Reading out the PowerPoint slides

I find it insulting – I can read them for myself

Tip: If you are using PowerPoint have graphics or diagrams on your slides that stimulate interest that you then explain rather than lots of text which doesn’t require explanation

3. Every slide the same

It’s really boring, especially when they have so much information on that you cannot possibly read them. What’s the point?

Tip: Keep the number of slides to a minimum and restrict how much information you display.

4. Fiddling with coins in their pockets or repeatedly touching hair, face, fiddling with glasses etc.

It is so distracting. I’m wondering when they’re going to do it next rather than what they’re talking about.

Tip: Practice standing to present with your hands in a neutral position, preferably by your sides, until you have stripped away all of the distracting gestures.

5. Turning around and talking to the screen rather than the audience.

It’s as if they don’t know what they are talking about.

Tip: If you need to see the slide why not use the laptop as an autocue in front of you instead?

6. Turning around and pointing to a something on the screen

It’s really annoying when the speaker goes up to the screen and actually points to it. It seems unprofessional.

Tip: Use a laser pointer

7. Bobbing backwards and forwards to the laptop to change the slide.

I find it distracting and it seems amateurish somehow.

Tip: You can get a remote clicker really cheaply and it would get rid of this.

8. Speaking in a monotone or the tone going up at the wrong time.

I find it really irritating when the tone goes up, like Australians do, whether it is really a question or not. I find myself focusing on listening for that rather than what’s being said

Just one tone of voice all the way through makes it difficult for me to concentrate. I find myself drifting off every time.

Tip: Record your presentation and listen to which tonality you predominately use and adjust it where necessary so that it is appropriate to the flow of the presentation.

9. The speaker using their hands and body too much, too many gestures.

It is really distracting when the speaker is too expressive with their hands or moves about a lot. I find it difficult to concentrate on what they are saying.

Tip: To help identify your distracting gestures (and we all have them but we generally are unaware of what we do as they are often unconscious behaviours) it is useful to video yourself presenting.

10. Just giving information that could be on a handout.

I find it really annoying when I feel that it’s been a waste of my time. The speaker just gives information that I could have read on a website or a handout.

Tip: Bring the information alive by telling stories or using real life examples.

This is just a sample. There are many more.

When you are designing and practising your presentation put yourself in the audiences shoes.What would you irritate you about listening to you? because if it irritates you chances are it will annoy someone else too!

Have Your Audience Sit Up, Take Notice, and Learn at Your Next Presentation

Some presentations are designed to simply motivate your audience. Some are designed to educate them. It’s this second batch that is tricky to do. It’s probably not that your presentations are lacking in educational material, but rather it’s the way that you are delivering it that really matters. You need to find a way to deliver the information in the way that adults learn…

So here’s the answer to this question right off the bat: research shows that adults learn best when information is presented interactively, using role-playing, and peer-to-peer dialog. The lectures that most presenters use are really only good for passing information along to an audience.

The last thing in the world that you want is for your next presentation to remind your audience of a high school or college class. Having you stand at the front of the room and drone on with no chance for interaction is not what today’s audiences are looking for.

The secret to making your presentation “stick” with your audience is to realize that the more active your adult audience is during your presentation, the more they will learn because they will be tapping into the knowledge and experience of their peers.

At different times during your presentation your role as the presenter should really be to be a “guide on a side” who facilitates discussions among audience members and offering feedback as needed.

We’ve all heard about left-brain / right-brain stuff. Our left-brain is set up for the way most presentations are delivered – logical, analytical, and subjective. It’s our right-brain, our visual & creative side, that is not being fed during most presentations.

Much of what it takes to make sure that a presentation appeals to how your adult audience learns has to do with how the presentation event is set up. Here are some key suggestions on how you can make your next presentation a powerful adult learning experience:

  • Use Round Tables: having your audience sit at round (or half round) tables that seat 8 or 10 people helps your audience to interact easily.
  • Schedule Break Time: make sure that your audience has time both before and after your presentation to meet and discuss what they are going to learn and what they have learned.  
  • Use Comfortable Seats: Rarely do we have control over this, but if possible the more comfortable the seats are, the more learning will happen.
  • Lose The Lectern: This can be done as simply as making sure that you have a wireless microphone so that you are not tied to one spot and can move around and interact with your audience.
  • Handouts & Downloads Are Good: You audience is hungry for information that they can take back to the office. Giving them something that they can touch and hold is one way to do this.
  • More Brian Food: This is my favorite. Most food that is served during a presentation can be sugar or carb-heavy. If possible, provide healthful food options.

At the end of the day, you go to a lot of effort to get ready to deliver a presentation. You want your audience to be impacted by your words and you want them to be able to absorb and learn from the information that you are presenting. If you follow these tips, your audience will have a better chance of learning and retaining what you have to say.