Upcoming ACOM Event Calendar

April 2010

April 15, 2010
Planner Panel: What a Planner Needs from Their CSM

May 2010

May 20, 2010
Social Media 101: How Do I Get Started?

June 2010

Set The Standard

August 2010

August 19, 2010
Contracts: What CSMs Need to Know About Their Company’s Contracts and the Re-Negotiations that are Taking Place in Today’s Economy

September 2010

National Celebrate Services Day!
September 16, 2010

September 16, 2010
Planner Panel – Creative Services: What Creative Ideas has Services Done for You in the Past? What Would You Like to See Services be more Creative with?

October 2010

October 21, 2010
Social Media for Attendance Building

November 2010

Idea Network
November 18, 2010
Managing Your Boss

January 2011

Annual Conference
January 7-9, 2011
Westin Casuarina
Las Vegas, Nevada

Six Tips For Presenting to a Tough Audience

By: Scott Belsky, CEO, Behance

It was a late Tuesday afternoon when I found myself in a boardroom of one of the largest companies in the world, getting ready to meet with a group of executives and present Behance’s research and best practices on execution. I was nervous. Despite the fact that I have a book coming out on the topic and have presented hundreds of times at creative industry conferences and companies, I felt particularly anxious about this presentation.

Why? Because I had been told that this was “generally a very skeptical group.” Of course, high-performing executives have high expectations and very little tolerance for ambiguity. But, in my preparatory meetings for this engagement in particular, everyone kept using the words “cynical” and “aggressive” to describe the group.

Ultimately, the meeting went well, but the group kept me on my toes. Upon reflection and after soliciting some advice from a few great presenters I know, I've gathered a few tips to keep in mind when presenting to a tough audience.

1. State a measurable and achievable goal up front. For me, I simply stated that my goal was to have everyone leave with just 2-3 things that, starting tomorrow, they could start doing (or do differently) that would help them with the business.

2. Acknowledge the audience, their importance, and their time. If you’re meeting with a high-performing team — or very stressed and busy people — you should acknowledge this up front. Time is precious and attention spans are short. You will gain respect by acknowledging the sacrifices that the team made to attend.

3. Check-in with the group throughout the presentation. Occasionally “checking in” with the group means asking questions like “how does this relate to your situation” and “anything strike you about that particular point?” With quick questions, you can keep the group engaged and, for small groups, increase the amount of questions and conversation.

4. Learn and speak the local language. Before speaking to a group, you should learn the company’s common acronyms. When people say SAB (School Advisory Board) and the MC (Management Committee), you should know what they mean. And you should know the names of the leaders, departments, and the various businesses. With this knowledge, you should use it to make your points hit home and tune into the conversations of the group.

5. Use industry-specific and, if possible, company specific examples. Before going in, you should have some case studies to cite. An obvious best practice of any consulting engagement is to ask tons of questions up front. Be sure to get examples of the problems and needs you are trying to address with your presentation.

6. Upon conclusion, summarize and provide perspective. Try to always end a presentation by “bringing home” the content. Restate the few crucial points that you want people to leave with. Great presentations also end with context. Talk about how your points might relate to everyday life and opportunities on the horizon. When your presentation comes to an end, ask for questions. If you don't get any, ask for reactions. The best presentations always end with discussion, whether it is formal or informal.

This article was written by Behance Founder & CEO Scott Belsky, whose new book, Making Ideas Happen, chronicles the operations and methods of exceptionally productive creative leaders and teams. Learn more about the book at http://www.MakingIdeasHappen.com

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