Are you among the hearty group of elite presenters that spends anywhere from 4 hours to several days delivering a presentation or demonstrating a solution to prospects? If so, you my friend are competing in the marathon of presentations – and my hat is off to you!
Full day and even multiple day presentations are not uncommon in certain industries, particularly software and technology. And while some people might think a full day presentation is as simple as stringing together several shorter presentations and chugging plenty of Red Bull, the truth is that the marathon of presentations presents some unique challenges for presenters.
(FYI: While the last place runner in the women’s marathon in Rio clocked in at just over 3.5 hours (slow poke!), I consider any sales presentations or product demos over 4 hours to qualify for the marathon of presentations.)
The Challenges of Longer Presentations:
*Using More Brain Power
More content means more material for both you and your audience to try and remember. More is not always better if it means a long, meandering data dump where the prospect walks away with no clear recall of the key message or overall value to his organization.
*Coordinating as a Team
Longer presentations often involve a team effort. While this takes some of the pressure off of each individual presenter, it can produce disparate messaging, awkward transitions, and wildly inconsistent delivery which can ultimately keep you from achieving your goal.
*Managing Short Attention Spans
With attention spans at an all time low and distractions at an all time high, keeping today’s prospect’s engaged is not easy – even in shorter presentations. Your ability to capture and hold your prospect’s attention can mean the difference between first and last place.
*Losing Momentum Over Breaks
Poorly managed breaks equal wasted time and distracted or absent prospects missing key messages. Having a break strategy is vital to keep your presentation on track and ensure your points are heard.
Marathon presentations don’t have to be a slow death march for you and your audience if you use the following strategies to keep delivery consistent and engagement and interest high:
Winning Strategies for the Marathon of Presentations:
Pick one takeaway:
Yes, you’re going to cover a lot of material, but you need to decide what one thing you want your prospect to remember at the end of the day. Once you know what that one thing is, make sure you reinforce it at strategic points throughout your presentation, i.e., the opening, within appropriate topics, and at the end.
Create a theme:
Organizing your presentation around a theme and tying each section into that theme provides a common thread to connect different sections and/or presenters. Try kicking off the day with an overall theme and starting each new topic with a slightly different aspect of that theme. This will help anchor your presentation and each topic in the prospect’s mind, making it easier for them to recall it later.
Sitting for a full day can be nearly as tiring for your audience as standing is for you. Keep the energy flowing by including activities and interaction. Take a poll. Ask an audience member to write down responses on the whiteboard. Introduce a prop and pass it around. Engaging more senses in your presentation will propel your attention level.
Have an engagement plan:
Keeping your audience engaged is not a singular event. To ensure that attention is always high, create an engagement plan that maps out how and when you will engage your audience.
TIP: You can download my Engagement Planning Kit and use this handy form to make sure you don’t give your audience a chance to zone out on you!
Plan post-break activities:
It takes people a few minutes to settle back down and refocus after a break. You can speed up that process as well as reward those who are back on time with a post-break video or quiz. Put some skin in the game by awarding points for right answers and giving away a prize for the most points at the end of the day.
Don’t let a longer presentation leave you stuck at the starting block. Identifying and preparing for some of the unique challenges will help you run a winning race and deliver a strong message that keeps your audience consistently engaged.