Charismatic Communication – How to Do Board Presentations – Part Two

You have approximately thirty seconds to four minutes (depending on which research you rely on) to establish an initial relationship with your board. These first few valuable minutes of the encounter will determine the degrees of attention members will be willing to invest on your presentation and whether they choose to actively process what you have to say. Opening statements in board presentations are crucial:

Design a powerful opening statement. If your opening statement is clumsy and inept, expect board members to label you as such and to process what they hear through that filter. People rarely separate the person from his/her behaviour in such instances. If your statement is confused, woolly, silly or uncertain, don’t be surprised when you notice that a fair number of your board have turned their cognitive lights out.

Make your content relevant. Persuasion researchers have found that one of the most important variables in triggering motivation to think about a message is personal relevance. Personal relevance can stem from a variety of factors: linkage to personal beliefs and values, desired outcomes, group expectations, plans for the future, corporate vision, issues of personal relevance to the board as a whole and shared experiences to name a few.

When the relevance quotient of a message is high it’s been found that people will be more motivated to scrutinise and think about its content. If your arguments bear scrutiny then you can expect to achieve higher degrees of persuasion.

During your groundwork phase discover ways in which to make the content relevant to your board. If you work in a specialised division avoid at all costs the gobbledygook and in-house language of your division. Translate your content into language that is relevant to board members.

Keep your presentation concise, succinct and to-the-point. Don’t present too much detail, such that the impact of your presentation gets buried under the weight of the data you present.

Think about the level of energy you will incorporate into your delivery. Often presenters are in awe of their boards and allow this self-defeating emotion to impact on the degree of energy they invest in their delivery. Think carefully about how you will need to display the ‘courage of your convictions’. This is not to say that you should fake energy or go over the top, but your board will be reading at an unconscious level the degree of belief you have in the position you are advocating. If you are flat and monotone, be prepared for your board to ‘feel’ that your heart isn’t in it.

Tell relevant and instructional stories. Passion by itself isn’t the only necessary ingredient to getting your message across. One of the major tools you can use when talking to a board is to tell stories that prove your point.

Design support material to be released after the presentation. Board members are usually fairly busy individuals. Design your handouts to include dot point summaries of the key points you have introduced in your presentation. Give your handouts at the end of the presentation. Avoid overwhelming the board with written information unless it is part of your strategy for the board to sink in a sea of paperwork. Avoid passing documents around before your presentation, as some members will direct their attention to what is written instead of focussing on you.

Work the room as much as you can. Boards usually sit around tables and this can make it difficult to work a room:

  • Always stand when you are making a board presentation
  • Be careful to make sure all members have sight of multi-media presentations or overhead transparencies
  • Always face the board when you are talking to points projected on to a screen, only briefly looking at the screen to keep your thoughts in order
  • Avoid using a lectern
  • Choreograph your movement by visiting the boardroom prior to a presentation. If possible do a complete dress rehearsal in the boardroom so you can comfortably work the space you have

Inform the board how you are going to do your presentation. If you decide that questions and answers would better be left until the end of your presentation make sure that you say something along the lines of “In this presentation can we explore the proposal first and open up for discussion at the end?” Ensure your presentation is not all about you. Novice speakers often imagine that if they ejaculate a stream of information at a board it will soak it up like a sponge and become instantly informed, persuaded or convinced.It may pay you to remember that board members are people too, and that boards, like most executives in the top companies, make decisions based on gut feel before logic is applied. The usual laws of vivid evidence, inclusive language, appropriate emotional appeals and communication in ‘shared space’ apply to board presentations as much as they do to any other presentation. Boards also like the word ‘You’

Dare to be different at times. Conduct actual “show and tell” demonstrations. Rather than simply presenting reports or making presentations, take board members on a tour and explain how your new proposal will work and how it may enhance quality, safety, service and costs.

Design a memorable conclusion to your presentation. Your closing statement represents your last word on the subject matter. It’s your final opportunity to make a difference. Your last minutes and seconds in front of your board should represent a determining moment for them, a turning point, a point where your message should culminate in a fusion of impressions that leads to the suggestion of action, thus reflecting the ultimate purpose of your message.

Summarize your previous spoken content, then leave the board with a few words that are memorable or make a significant impact. Using a quotation, asking a powerful question or presenting a challenging future scenario can also create the right conditions for approval or a positive impression.

(c) Desmond Guilfoyle 2006

Ensuring Productivity Quality Rather Than Just Simply Being Productive

Productivity is something that all individuals and companies strive for. But, it is not enough to be just productive and to churn out bulks of product without looking into quality control. That is simply irresponsible. Productivity is just one gauge of company and personal success that is why it cannot be the sole factor in determining it. The quality of the product and the services must also be considered to make sure that the consumers are satisfied and keeps on coming back.

There are a lot of benefits into ensuring productivity quality and one of them has been mentioned above and that is customer loyalty. A satisfied customer will keep coming back to the same product or service and may even be a valuable advertising medium, when said customer brings friends and acquaintances to utilize the products.

Another benefit with implementing productivity quality is gaining the ability to command a higher market price. People would still be drawn to your products and would be willing to shell out a little more money just to get a higher quality product or service. A long term benefit of implementing productivity quality is that a company or an institution is bound to flourish with it. When a company has gained the trust of its customers and has created a name for it, then it is considered synonymous with high quality products and services. You can be certain that such a company will enjoy a longer shelf life compared to others who took productivity without first considering quality.

It may seem very tempting to only focus on the productivity level of an individual or a company and not look at the quality of the products, but it may, at some point cause the demise of the business or cause immense negative effects on the individual. One of the most obvious and significant Cons of plainly productivity centric systems is the imminent demise of quality.

If a company’s only goal is to produce as much as they can no matter what the quality of the product, then they will eventually suffer loss. Although, producing low quality products at immense amounts may be good for some companies because they can sell these products at ridiculously low prices. They will most definitely have a market in some areas where customers only look for quick fixes and don’t expect their purchases to last. If however, if a company is aiming for customer loyalty and trust in their brand, then they most definitely should not focus on the quantity productivity level alone.

When implementing Productivity Quality, the revenue of a company should not suffer. Ways should be found to compensate for the cut backs due to the pressures of quality control. As mentioned above, companies that have high quality products are able to command higher prices for such products and are still able to hold on to their market because of their standards. So, for a company that plans to last long in the market, high productivity quality should always be practiced.

Product Managers Who Want To Look Good Can Learn From Estee Lauder

As a guy, what I know about women’s make-up can pretty much be written on one side of a file card. With a lot of space left over. However, as a consultant to lots of product managers, I’ve always been very impressed by cosmetics products. They are a simple product that a lot of advertising makes seem very valuable. It turns out that the long global recession has hit cosmetics companies hard also and so their product managers are doing something about it – they are changing how they sell their products…

How Make Up gets Sold Today

Cosmetics is a big, big business. I’m not sure how large the market that your product plays in is, but the U.S. beauty market is a $58.8 billion (yes, that’s billion) market. However, the global recession knocked about 9% out of this market last year and so the product managers are starting to scramble.

It turns out that 1/3 of a cosmetics company’s revenues come from the products that are sold at department stores (remember them?) This has always been a great place to sell make up; however, times are changing.

Big Changes Are Coming To The World Of Make Up

Competitors are starting to show up. This competition is coming from both cheaper brands that you can find at drug-stores as well as niche brands that are getting big marketing pushes.

As though that wasn’t enough, the customers who buy make up are also changing. Younger customers really don’t like the way that make up has traditionally be sold at the big department stores. There you have to wait in line for a “consultant” who then tries to up-sell you on many other products. Oh, and the price of everything is hidden – you have to ask to find out how much things cost. This doesn’t set well with the young women who make up much of the market these days.

Estee Lauder’s New Plan

Estee Lauder is a company with three major brands that you may recognize: Clinique, Estee Lauder, and MAC (I even recognize the brands!) Their product managers have decided that they need to change how their products are sold in department stores if they want to have any hope of remaining relevant in the future.

First things first – to make changes in how your product is sold in a department store, you need the store’s cooperation. In the past, making a major change in a set of products that is one of the most profitable parts of a department store would create a lot of resistance from the department store. However, thanks to the recession, the department stores realize that something has got to change and are willing to play ball.

So here’s a fun fact for you: 80% of the women who use mascara replace it at least 2-3 times a year according to a survey done by the NPD Group. When it comes time to replace their make up, the younger customers really want to touch and play with the make up products. Estee Lauder product managers realize this and so they are redesigning how make up products are presented in the department store: they have easy access to the products and they can try them on before making a decision.

Time is a precious resource for all of us. The Estee Lauder product managers have come to realize that they need to make the shopping experience different for customers who have different amounts of available time. They’ve added an “express lane” to their displays so that women who know what they want can get in and get out quickly. They also offer areas where women can browse the different products and, for the customers who want it, they offer an area where customers who want a full beauty consultation can settle in for a visit.

What All Of This Means For You

As product managers we all wish that our product was as highly desired as women’s make up is. Even if we don’t work in this market, we can still learn a lot from the changes that the Estee Lauder product managers are making to how their products get sold.

As the characteristics of our customer base changes (e.g. they get younger), we need to adapt to how they want to shop for our product. The way that we used to do things may no longer work. Estee Lauder’s product managers have discovered that their customers want to be able to touch and play with their products instead of having company employees hovering over them all of the time. Additionally, respecting how much time our customers have could make it easier for them to buy from us.

Watching what Estee Lauder does and learning from their actions can go a long way in helping product managers better meet their customers needs. Take some of the same actions and who knows, your products might come out of this looking even better than they do today…!