Technical Presentations

How to Create “Enchanting” Relationships

The word “enchant” means to cast a spell on or bewitch; to delight or captivate utterly; to fascinate; charm. Guy Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, has given us a new spin on a more traditional approach to persuasion, influence, marketing and customer care.

Kawasaki defines enchantment as “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization or idea. The outcome of enchantment is voluntary and long lasting support that is mutually beneficial.” He adds, “The greater your goals, the greater you’ll need to change people’s hearts, minds and actions.” And then he sets out to give us a step-by-step process for creating enchanting relationships.

This book is for anyone who has ever dreamed a dream and wanted to see it materialize. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, if you work for a large enterprise, or if you’re a recent college graduate, you’ll find tips in Kawasaki’s book that will help you engage your prospects or customers so that you can compete in this changing marketplace.

With such chapters as “How to Achieve Likability,” How to Achieve Trustworthiness,” “How to Prepare,” and many others, Kawasaki gives tools for mounting a campaign that is geared to achieve your vision and goals by creating powerful relationships. The book is packed with interesting personal profiles, from everyday working people to celebrity icons such as Steve Jobs and Al Gore. And because the book took a year to write and a lifetime of experience to create, it is loaded with background research, which provides a nice balance to the short paragraph format. I especially enjoyed his “hat tips,” where he acknowledges anyone whose idea he shares. 

Yes, this is a great book for the everyday entrepreneur, but is the concept of “enchantment” too soft for the C Suite? In a recent Forbes interview, Steve Denning asked Kawasaki how he communicates enchantment as a business proposition to CEOs, CFOs, and other senior leaders. How does he persuade this serious group that they too need to be in the business of enchantment?

“The best way is to use examples,” says Kawasaki. “Wouldn’t you like to have the evangelistic base of Apple or the likeability of Virgin America? Wouldn’t you like customers to trust you the way they trust Zappo’s, so that they will buy shoes, sight unseen? Even the most hard-core pencil-pushing bean-counter will have to say, ‘Yeah, I wish we were Apple or Virgin America or Zappo’s! That’s not such a bad place to be.’”

If you want to get a taste of your company’s ability to cast a spell and enchant your audience, listeners, customers, or prospects, take this test Kawasaki created: Guy’s Realistic Enchantment Aptitude Test (GREAT). Then, no matter what your results are, read Enchantment. You’ll get practical, doable suggestions that could just make your company the next Apple. Now, wouldn’t that be great!

Need a Remote for Your Next PowerPoint Presentation? There’s an App for That

I work with many people who give PowerPoint presentations.  And no matter how experienced they are, invariably a few of them forget to bring (or don’t own) a remote control for advancing their PowerPoint slides.  As such, whenever I’m working with clients I always take extra remotes with me and usually end up giving them away.  I go through remotes faster than infants outgrow clothes. I was recently on my latest search for the newest, highest quality and best priced PowerPoint remote.  You can imagine how delighted I was to learn that there’s an app for that.  It’s called the i-Clickr PowerPoint Remote, and it’s available for use on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad (Apple iOS 3.1 or later), Android, Windows Mobile 6, and Windows Phone 7. 

While I haven’t tried the app yet, the features and possibilities seem beneficial for busy presenters.  For example, from your Smart Phone, you can have complete control of your PowerPoint presentation, including animations.  You can navigate through your slides with finger swipes and taps, track your presentation time with an onboard clock, and even set a presentation alarm so that your Smart Phone will alert you with a silent buzz before your time runs out. 

To use the app, though, you need a WiFi connection to your host PC or MAC.  So if the venue you’re presenting in doesn’t have WiFi, the remote won’t work (meaning you can’t rely on this app as your only remote option). Therefore, you’ll want to make sure to have a Plan B.

Realize, too, that looking down at your screen can keep you from looking at your audience, so it will take some practice to get used to this sort of remote so you don’t sacrifice your delivery skills.  Additionally, holding a bulkier tool like a phone instead of a more streamline remote unit will limit your use of gestures.

Still, for a one-time download fee of $9.99, this app could definitely come in handy when you’re getting ready for a presentation and realize you forgot to pack a remote.

If anyone has tried this app, I’d love to hear your feedback on how it worked for you.

Content Tips: How Much is Too Much?

I’ve been working with a group of technical professionals this week and am running into a familiar techie issue. My technical guys love monologue. And the longer, more data packed and deeply obscure the better. They make the case that if they are speaking to a technical audience, a complex presentation is expected; and, as long as that presentation is well structured, I can go along with it. The problem is that most of these presenters are techies speaking to a non-technical prospect. And that prospect is far more interested in the solution to his/her problem than in hearing the technical details of the subject matter itself. They just want to know what time it is, and they really don’t care how the clock works.

 

It’s not just technical people who struggle with this issue. Most subject matter experts can fall into the same trap. When you are passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, your natural instinct is to share it with others. You may have a drive to fulfill your own interest by telling your audience everything you know and love about your subject. But that can be overwhelming for an audience and your best intentions, which may indeed be to inform and inspire, will soon go south and take your audience with them.

 

So what can you do?

Keep in mind that what an audience usually needs is a lot less detail than you think it does. If you know one hundred percent about your topic, most audiences only need to hear five percent. As hard as that is to believe, think about it this way. You have spent years, perhaps decades learning the details of your subject and you may be spending a mere twenty to sixty minutes speaking about that topic in a presentation. You can easily see why for most audiences, less information is far more effective and manageable. Unless you are speaking to an audience who shares your industry expertise, give them the Cliff Notes. They will thank you for it.

 

Organize Your Main Points

Once you whittle down the topic to fit your audience and timeframe, break it up into small chunks. Pull out the three-to-five main points and build your presentation around them. Hearing a presenter tell me they are going to cover the top twenty-five tips for this or that is like an intravenous feed directly to my sleepy gene. I know in a matter of minutes (probably by number five) I’ll be snoozing. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have those twenty-five items in your talk. But you will be much better off clustering them into groups of three or five and labeling them sub-points instead of main points so that your audience doesn’t get overwhelmed.

 

When you structure your material in a way that is palatable by offering small bites instead of mouthfuls you can trust that your audience will digest it easily and not choke or gag on TMI.

 

You can also rest assured that they won’t be checking (or choking) the clock.

 

The Power of Polished Technical Demos and Why I Love My Work

Last week I was in Charlotte, NC teaching a technical presentation skills program for one of my favorite clients, Autodesk. Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) is an American mulitnational corporation that focuses on 2D and 3D design software for use in architecture, engineering and building construction, manufacturing, and media and entertainment. The company is best known for its flagship computer-aided design software AutoCAD. Autodesk is the world’s largest design software company, with more than 9 million users throughout the world. The company was recently named number 25 on Fast Company's list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.”

 

It was a pleasure to work with a group of twelve experienced and talented Application Engineers (AEs) in our three-day program. My goal was to help them structure, develop and refine their product demonstrations so they can deliver powerful, solution-oriented presentations to their customers.

 

AEs give demo presentations for a living and they have speaking and travel schedules to prove it. It is always a pleasure to work with people who frequently give presentations because they have such deep experience with their products, knowledge of their audience…and plenty of war stories. Their job requires that they be highly prepared, well disciplined and polished. Their customers expect this of them.

 

In the world of presentation skills the demo presentation stands alone. Most public speakers multitask—they must concentrate on their message, coordinate their non-verbal and verbal delivery skills, manage their staging and technical requirements and synchronize their PowerPoint slideware. But the Application Engineers take multitasking to a whole new level. Not only do they have to do all of the above, but they also have to be able to run and manage complex software applications with proven ease and fluidity on top of everything else. This requires more than simply rubbing your stomach and tapping your head—it is equivalent to giving a presentation while cooking a gourmet meal. Think Iron Chef. Think Iron AE.

Autodesk’s focus is to help users visualize, simulate and analyze real-world performance throughout the design process. And that’s what the AEs did in their final presentations. They graduated with flying colors…and reminded me why I love my job.

 

Here are some recent blog articles written by Autodesk employees that I recommend checking out:

Lynn Allen

Dana Probert

Shawn Hendriks

Louis Marcoux

Ken Pimentel

More…