Bill Bunkers knows people, culture and creativity. For the last 30 years, he’s held agency leadership roles and is an award-winning veteran in brand management and business communications.
I’ve been involved in producing corporate meeting and communications since 1982, and of course, there have been a lot of changes during these past 37 years. What’s immediately noticeable is that technology and the resulting media are different: big song and dance industrial shows were replaced by multi-media meetings using banks of slide projectors, which have since been replaced by wide-screen video and PowerPoint presentations. And the printed quarterly company newsletter has given way to video blogs, beautifully designed emails and just-in-time text messages from senior management.
And years ago, “hoopla,” slick technology, dancers, and occasionally even pyro and lasers were thought to be the things needed to earn attention and buy-in.
What was cool then looks like cotton candy to today’s audience – fun for a moment, but without substance and lasting impact. Agencies and corporations now have to work harder: the audiences are more media-sophisticated, they don’t award their trust and loyalty freely, and information is only a few clicks away.
While the tools have changed, what’s constant is that we’re still trying to connect with an audience often comprised of leadership, sales people and business partners.
What’s a company to do? As high-tech plays a larger role in our professional and personal lives, consider that high-touch moments stand out now because they happen less frequently.
But how does this translate to a large business meeting or event, one that has lots of great media and PowerPoint support? Maybe 4,000 people in the audience? How does high-touch translate on a large scale?
Great media helps a presenter look professional and tell their story, but the most important steps are taken before anything is projected onscreen.
Ask yourself, “What does my audience want to know?” This isn’t about the news you want to share, it’s about looking at the meeting from their perspective and knowing how they’d answer. “What’s the most important issue that needs to be addressed during this meeting?”
This helps create a platform where you’re talking to them, not at them. You want the audience to understand you know their world and issues – that you’re addressing them personally, even if there are 4,000 people in front of you.
And then ask yourself what you can tell them from the unique vantage point of your role. If your message fits neatly into a PowerPoint that could be sent by email ahead of the meeting, think again. The audience wants context. They want the “why” behind a new plan, a new brand or a change of direction. Take them on the journey that convinced you that you’re on the right path.
And when you have the substance fleshed out, rehearse. And rehearse some more. Rehearse so you can talk your presentation instead of presenting it. Your audience wants to see your enthusiasm. They want your insight. They want you to be the business leader they can believe in. They want to see you.
Your audience is looking for insight, authenticity and humanity – something you’ll always have access to, regardless of the change technology brings.