August 4

Applying the KISS Principle to your presentation


There’s a disturbing trend among many presenters to pack in as much information as possible in to a presentation or demo, especially as solutions get more complex and face time with prospects more condensed. While it seems like you may be maximizing your allotted time, the effects of too much information can be just as deadly as too little information.  Applying the KISS principle to your presentation (keep it simple stupid) is as important today as it’s ever been.

Research shows that most people can remember about three things – and that may be pushing it. Like you, your prospect is bombarded with information on a daily basis.  In fact, the average adult receives about 3000 messages per day!  But of course you have more than three things you want to get across, so what’s the answer?

Most presentations try to emphasize too many points, which often has the effect of diluting the entire message.

Take this example from a typical presentation opening:

 “Today we’re going to talk about how we can help you drive down human capital costs on services like Benefits, Workers Comp, Risk & Safety, Taxes and Payroll by providing integrated, cost effective HR solutions to handle your administrative HR duties, simplify reporting, and automate benefits.

What was wrong with that?  Well, number one, it’s boring!  And number two, TMI dude!  We’re at the start of the presentation and there are at least 10 different ideas here.  Count them with  me:

“Today we’re going to talk about how we can help you drive down human capital costs (1) on services like Benefits,(2) Workers Comp,(3) Risk & Safety,(4) Taxes(5) and Payroll(6) by providing integrated, cost effective HR solutions(7) to handle your administrative HR duties,(8) simplify reporting,(9) and automate benefits.(10)

Maybe you are going to cover all of these areas in your presentation.  But if you make it sound too complicated, your audience is going to be tempted to tune out (hello smartphone!) and certainly less likely to remember any of your points.

Applying the KISS Principle to your presentation with one question:

My favorite question to ask when a presenter delivers something like in the above example, is simply this:

“If your prospect could remember only one thing from your presentation, what do you want it to be?”

Honing down your presentation to one simple statement often seems like a near impossible task.  But it can and should be done. Most experts agree on the benefit of having one central idea as the core of your message in order to increase recall.  And recall is critical as sales get more complex, more decision-makers get involved, and your competition has similar features. Take the time to determine what that “One Thing” you want your prospect to walk away with is, and reinforce it at strategic points within your presentation.

An Example of the KISS Principle in Action

Let’s take our same example and by applying the KISS principle, speak more directly to one compelling idea:

“Like most of our customers, you probably didn’t get into your business to be filling out forms, making time-consuming employee benefits and compliance decisions. Today we’re going to talk about how we can help you get back to focusing on what you do best:  growing your business. In a few minutes I’ll show you just how much time you will be able to free up in your day to focus on the things that drive your business forward, while providing you with even lower labor costs, Fortune 500 benefits and workmen’s comp.”

You can see I still introduced some of the topics I’m going to cover in my presentation, but they are secondary to the more customer focused, central idea that I want my prospect to walk away – which is: “We’re going to help you focus on what you do best.”

The KISS Principle in your presentation isn’t about dumbing down your message, it’s about making it easy for a busy prospect to remember and relate to your message.  And there’s nothing dumb about that!

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KISS Principle, One Thing, recall

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