June 1, 2017


PowerPoint deck prepared, audio visual checklist complete, and key stakeholders are present for the meeting. The presentation begins smoothly, but quickly you realize your audience is distracted, heads down and thumbs typing away. Despite trying to recover, you quickly realize the audience has been lost. You begin to sweat. Your alarm jars you out of the bad dream. A sigh of relief. How do you keep this dream from becoming a reality? Through the power of effective storytelling.

Agnostic to industry or topic, storytelling creates an emotional connection. Before you articulate the features of your product or organization, pause and put yourself in your audience’s shoes by answering, “What’s in it for me?” 

Several years ago, I was challenged to develop a marketing solution to attract and win event planning business. Rather than being overwhelmed by the challenge, I broke down the question, “What’s in it for me?” into three parts:

  1. Identify and understand the need: 
    Review existing data such as completed surveys or website analytics. (I recommend Survey Monkey and signing up for Google Analytics). Start qualitative discussions with your sales team. Holistically reviewing all data will unearth insights about the factors driving the decision to partner with your organization. In my case, the potential audience was very high touch and needed not just the ideal event venue (matrixed to an exhaustive list of requirements) but ultimately a trusted partner who could handle all details of the event.

  2. Address the need:
    With a data-driven understanding of the audience needs, consider how you will address the need. The insights you discover may be overt (frequent web traffic to “weddings” for example) or covert (high bounce rate from your website altogether). Either will inform the strategic approach you take to tell the story. A common theme during my research was a communicated need from event planners to understand what to expect during the sales process, from start to finish.

  3. Differentiate yourself from the competition:
    Determine how to differentiate from your competition by assessing the organizational advantages you have.
    • Tangible advantages are the most obvious to the eye. If you think about the ways in which your audience interacts with your organization and your competition, these differences will emerge. In my case, I was selling a premium event venue in a very desirable location with the operational capacity to meet a complex set of requirements.
    • Don’t skip the intangible advantages either. Assess your competitor’s digital presence and communication strategy. Often (and in my situation), this soft feature may be the personal, high touch service your company provides or an easy to use, efficient process for working with your organization.
Once you have sufficiently answered the question—“What’s in it for me?”—don’t underestimate the importance of written and visual communication. Package your presentation with thoughtful design to ensure audience engagement and consider a leave behind packed with all the necessary details. 

How do you prepare for a presentation? Tweet us at @JayRayAdsPR