November 9, 2009

How To Prepare, Promote and Practice A Brand-New Presentation

Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing.
--- Forrest Gump referring to Apple

Have you ever walked along the edge of a cliff without noticing and later marveled that you didn't fall off?

I got invited to kickoff Day 2 of the IFB Summit from the mainstage. What an opportunity. That's where I've seen excellent keynotes from
I gladly accepted since I rarely address an audience of several hundred. This time I had an ideal, rehearsed presentation. That's when the trouble started. My topic, How To Succeed With Entrepreneurs Part 1: Be The One They Want, overlapped with another presenter.

Sell Before Making
I quickly came up with a brand new presentation. Or rather, the title and description.
Do You Market Like It's 1999?
Change with the times. You know plenty about products and sales strategies. What about this real challenge: how do you entice prospects to pick you over your competitors? How do you stay in touch before and after a sale? How do you create a powerful first impression without needing to be there? Discover simple, inexpensive ways to market better. Explore a market yearning for your help … if you stand out. Discover what works in this timely new presentation from a marketing actuary with the passion for simple. Copy the concrete real-life examples to stop marketing like it's 1999. Or 1989.
That was enough to entice registrants to pick my breakout session. Selling before making works well. I used the same approach when launching Marketing Reflections: subscribers agreed to receive an eNewsletter that didn't exist. I then tailored content to suit them.

Next came the wrong end of the 80/20 rule: 80% of your time creates 20% of the outcome. There's no synergy here. Only work and attention to detail. That's fine.

By the time the content was ready, the presentation was hours away. That's when I realized that I wouldn't have time to practice even once. Oops. What was I thinking?

Mental Rehearsal
I knew how the presentation would flow and roughly what to say for each slide. I'd mentally rehearsed the sections while drafting the content. Dr. Maxwell Maltz unveiled this now well-understood approach in Psycho-Cybernetics in 1960. It works beautifully.

The trickiest section related to the importance of a having a proper email address. To ensure the words flowed and had punch, I wrote down bullet points and turned them into last week's blog post. How's that for recycling?

One insurmountable problem remained: pacing. I did not know how long the presentation would run. I had 75 minutes and could easily be off by 15-30 minutes if nervous energy sped me up.

Arrive Early
I arrived early and coordinated with the audio/video crew. I wanted them to play a video clip. You got a sneak peek in How to apply consistent persistent generosity. As a precaution, I had my presentation on my computer, a memory stick and a portable hard drive. I had the video clip on a DVD and in two other formats (MP4 and AVI).

This preparation paid off. A technical glitch prevented my computer from projecting. That's just as well because I forgot my trusty wireless presenter mouse in the car. I would have been forced to stand in the worst possible spot: behind the podium. There was enough time to put my presentation on their equipment via the memory stick. The formatting got messed up on the title slide, which was easy to fix. I could now use their wireless slide advancer, which allowed mobility. To drain nervous energy, I walked to the AV booth and back to the stage. My voice was ready since I'd avoided milk, caffeine and sugar. While John Dargie introduced me, I took deep breaths from stage right (with the microphone off).

I found my rhythm within minutes of starting. The presentation went much better than an unrehearsed mainstage presentation deserved.
You never know what you're gonna get.
--- Forrest Gump referring to a box of chocolates

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