Forget the Laundry List and Tell a Story

By August 22, 2011The basics, Uncategorized

I just sat through another mind-numbing presentation.
I looked around the room and saw that everyone’s eyes were glazed over or even
closed. I could hear little side conversations going on about completely
unrelated topics. The problem? The speaker’s style was classic laundry list,
which is great for the laundry, not so great for an audience.

She droned on about all the services she provides.
Granted, it’s a lot, but really, who cares? This is the Bay Area where people
who are extraordinarily accomplished and don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s
not unlikely that the guy who whips up your latte has a Ph.D in Philosophy from
Stanford and speaks five languages.

So what should she do instead of the endless
drone? Identify one service that she provides for her clients and let that be her
focus. More importantly, tell a story. I would like to hear about how she had
worked with a client, identified the challenge and defined her solution.

When meeting with prospective clients, it’s easy
to get caught up in describing your services when what this person really wants
to do is talk about him/herself. If you’re smart, you’ll really listen to that
person, then identify a similar challenge and describe how you met it.

One thing I think speakers are guilty of is worrying about
filling their time slots. They figure that they’ve got 15 minutes to talk about
what they do, so they need to use that time to provide boring details about
themselves and a laundry list of their services.

Get over this. Less is more. An effective ten-minute presentation
with a vividly described success story is infinitely more memorable than a
20-minute laundry list approach. Turn it over to Q&A or better yet, shut up
and sit down and do some serious networking afterwards.

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