Every iconic marketing campaign or revolutionary business approach began as a simple idea. But when brainstorming becomes a chore — and an exhausting hunt for innovation — it’s tempting to recycle old ideas, fix them with a new label, and attempt to pass them off as cutting-edge. But consumers are smarter than the marketers doing this give them credit for, and will be quick to ignore your hand-me-down campaigns or any “new” approach that resembles them.
Two-way dialogue > one-way monologue
Equally as important as generating truly unique ideas, concepts, approaches, and campaigns is the way you present them to an audience. And, it turns out the presentation medium matters quite a bit, too.
As Warren Buffett famously said: “If you can’t communicate, and talk to other people, and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.” Presenters — marketers especially — have to regularly put this notion into practice. Assessing the content you’re presenting, evaluating its reception by the audience, and constantly analyzing its effectiveness is quite literally the only way to determine what works and what doesn’t. This knowledge is priceless, gives marketers far greater accuracy when planning future campaigns, and allows them to be more confident when choosing where to spend time and budget. The same is true for presenting these ideas, at conferences and meetings alike.
The simplest and most direct way to do this type of continuous iteration is by engaging the people you’re presenting to in conversation; not only before and after presenting content, but during the actual presentations. Not surprisingly, this approach is known as “conversational presenting,” and getting it right helps to build a foundation of trust with target audiences — something that’s absolutely critical for growth and retention. Why? Because people want to feel connected to the content they consume and the products they purchase. They want to be engaged by what’s shown to them. But more than anything else, they want to feel as though they have some measure of influence over the way they spend their time. So, it’s vital that you present with your audience, not just to them, and that you allow them to be involved in the direction the conversation takes.
Fundamentally, conversational presenting is about establishing a two-way dialogue, which will give you unparalleled insight into what your audience wants and needs. It will allow you to refine concepts, spark new ideas, customize the way you deliver content to different people, and ultimately, invite your listeners to be an integral part of the work you’re doing to serve them.
A deeper connection
The aforementioned trust is an essential component throughout the buyer’s journey, but is particularly important once a prospect reaches the decision-making stage. While trust is an abstract concept, marketers can establish it by presenting strong data and anecdotal evidence that supports the ideas and offerings they’re presenting. Key findings from research, excerpts from white papers, customer success stories, well-executed projects, or quotes from customers or partners who are experts in their given markets can all give credence to your story. And while data is undeniably useful, marketers should never underestimate the power of making an emotional impact. Presenting a strong and compelling idea, while rooting the narrative in positive human emotions like happiness or surprise, will increase your chance of making memorable connections. This alliance will help your message be more persuasive and effective, driving greater returns — and for the presenter, a deeper understanding of their audience.
Finding common ground
Convincing decision-makers to support new and sometimes unconventional ideas will always be essential in getting them off the ground. But the best ideas aren’t always loud and disruptive. And to present them, marketers don’t need years of training or experience. The most impressive presentations come from both thorough preparation and the ability to think conversationally, adapting to the specific interests of the people you’re presenting to. Building a narrative that’s both emotional and conversational not only gives you a stronger platform for your message — it also allows you to use the largest, most unstoppable force you have at your disposal to its fullest potential: your customers, and the influence they possess. When you empower this army of consumers to take part in shaping your story, you also give them reason to share it. And that’s the most powerful tool any marketer can ever have in their arsenal.