Rule #1 of Any Presentation

July 23rd, 2009

The Same Rule #1 as Any Other Communication

I was amused by a speaker on a recent Webinar about building trust with clients. He recalled a story from early in his consulting career, when three slides into a major presentation for a new client, the senior client bellowed, “Get to the point!”

The lesson, as he explained it, was pinpointing the breakdown in trust with a client. I thought it was much simpler: he didn’t bother to find out the guy’s style, i.e. he didn’t know who he was talking to.

I worked on many new business and other presentations in my agency days. Sometimes I’d be called in to help with one. The briefing was usually about who was presenting from our team and what they were trying to sell to which client/office. But I wanted to know:

Source: Pop!Tech @ Flickr

Source: Pop!Tech @ Flickr

  • Who’s going to be in the room?
  • Who’s the decision-maker?
  • What does that person care about? What are their positive and negative buzzwords?
  • What do we know about that person’s style, how they like to be presented to?
  • What is that person’s biggest hesitation about our agency and agencies in general?
  • Etc.

I just can’t say it enough. In presentations and everywhere else, you have to know who you’re talking to, and as much about them as possible: their fears, desires, motivations, why on earth they would do what you want them to.

That’s your starting point. Everything else builds from there.

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Learning Program and Team Awards 2009-2014


ASTD Excellence in Practice

Technical Training Award
Training Management Citation (for new programs)
Learning Technology Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Leadership Development (x2) Award, Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Onboarding Citation
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Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning

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Best Innovation in Learning Technology Silver
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Brandon Hall Technology Excellence

Best Advance in Social Learning Technology Gold

CLO Magazine Learning in Practice

Technology Innovation Gold, Division 1
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Business Impact Gold, Division 2
Business Impact Bronze, Division 2


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American Society for Training & Development

ASTD BEST #1 (up from #32 in one year)
#2 (up from #37 in two years)

ELearning! Media Group

Learning! 100 #1 (first year on list)

Chief Learning Officer Magazine

LearningElite #1, #4

Training Magazine

 Training Top 125 #1, #2 (up from #41 in one year)