Getting Your Content Right

Getting your content right

Share the mental model

What is a mental model after all? It is an explanation of someone’s thought process. Share that upfront with your audience. It not only helps them keep track of what you would cover, but also know where you are going with the conversation.

Sometimes it’s as simple as reading out the agenda in brief.

In the next 15mins, we will cover a brief overview of the state of the union in the marketing domain. Then we will switch to talking about the threats and the opportunities. In the last 5mins, we would cover we can help you speed up your transformational journey.

In others, an effective way is to tell them the value they are going to get hearing from you in the next few minutes.

In the next 15mins, I will give you 3 approaches. By the time you leave this meeting - you will have a clear idea of how to increase your top line by 15%

Either way - The speaker is responsible to ensure that the audience has clarity on what is coming.

Build the narrative with your audience

When was the last time you paid attention to a speaker speaking to a single slide for a very long period? What was unique about it? The speaker started with a blank canvas and build the idea along with you. By the end, it was a busy slide but you were able to follow along. Now think how different this would be if this put together upfront and you had to follow along speaker?

Having your audience follow along as you unfold your idea is very powerful. An effective way to do that is to use the right type and amount of transitions. Having a lot of text show upfront can disengage the audience. Instead, their attention would be more on reading the content and not listening to you.

As a watch-out - doing the balancing act of how many transitions to use is also tricky. You want something snappy enough that can follow your pace and keep the audience engaged.

The “So what?” Question

This is the ultimate litmus test. Why should a slide even be part of your narrative? Have a keen look at each one of them and ask ‘So what?’ what’s the key message here?

Some good answers would be

  • It’s part of and builds on the narrative

  • Shares a unique perspective, point of view; an industry trend

  • Provides clarity on a roadmap

  • Highlights risks and suggests ideas to mitigate them

Another good point - so important that it’s worth calling out on its own is - how is your approach different?

See - the ability to address the problem, the opportunity, etc is table stakes. The ‘so what’ test applies to this question as well. You could show you can show the problem but how are you different from the next presentation. How is your approach faster, cheaper, better, innovative than all others?

Think about how you are covering the answers to these questions in your presentation. This will answer the omnipresent ‘so what’ question in the minds of the audience.

Show me the value?

It is not unusual to sometimes have an unsolicited presentation. It’s also possible that you could be talking about a solved problem for your audience. Showing the value here becomes even more critical

So what does show ‘value’ actually mean? If the value of the solution by far exceeds the effort that goes into the solution, then it’s a viable option. The difference is the value this approach creates.

To land the value with a big impact, it’s important to do the required discovery work. The inputs will help differentiate from the current solution and make it stand out.

It is important to note that sometimes value can come from indirect benefits as well. These could be an overlooked area - but when used contextually - can boost the value equation.

In a recent example where I spoke to an exec of a large engineering organization. They were building a commodity capability that wouldn’t differentiate them. They were only able to add market differentiators on top of it after a significant effort. My recommendation to them was to use a managed service to build the base at a much lower cost. The indirect benefits were about shortening the product/market fit cycle. They could now do the new feature rollouts much faster. They could now, also leverage the same team to build market differentiating features.

Talk solutions, not products

Solutions - not products

What would you make of a movie experience where 90% of the time was about the making of the camera, project, and seats? This is unfortunately how much technical presentations turn out to be. No surprises - when the audiences, especially senior execs zone out.

Avoid showing a catalog of products, instead talk about the solution. Cover the art of possible, in the business context and make it relatable. Once the bigger picture is clear, the building blocks can come in. Start with the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ and ‘how’ can follow through

Is your content speaking to the right person?

A sound sales strategy involves engaging a wide range of audiences. These could be direct users, key decision-makers, finance folks, and a bunch of other functions. Each group has its areas of interest and priorities.

The outcome of the solution should be consistent across all the personas. What should differ though across all is how you solve for them, their needs and concerns.

A good example would be if you are selling a customer data platform. Your message for the CTO should be about unifying data across various silos. The CEO instead would want to know how it helps be new user acquisition. The CMO would want to know how it can reduce the cost of new user acquisition. The CFO would want to know how this would impact budgeting and forecasting.

As you can see - the same product can have a varied impact based on your role and so the messaging needed variation.

Photo by Thanzi Thanzeer on Unsplash