One Of My Favorite Challenges As A Presentation Trainer

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 2, 2014 – 12:02 am

One of my favorite challenges is to help a client take a seemingly boring topic and turn it into a riveting presentation.

I recently faced such a challenge when one of our clients was tasked with speaking about her organization’s new expense processing system. Her job was to lead her colleagues through the new software program and show them how to enter their expenses.

Like most people tasked with such a presentation, she planned to give a talk that flowed something like this: “First, you click this button and enter that number here. Then, you click this button and enter that number here. Next, you click this button and enter that number here.”

That approach wasn’t likely to grab her audience—but by brainstorming together, we discovered a much better way to present that information.

Expense Report

First, it’s important to note that this woman’s colleagues weren’t exactly thrilled to be attending this training session about expense reports. So this speaker already had a challenging task in front of her.

To try to find something more interesting in her presentation, I asked her how much time it took employees to enter expenses in the old system. “About one day each month,” she replied. How about now, I asked? “About two hours per month.” And how many employees are using this system? “About 500,” she replied.

With some quick math, we determined that the new program saved the organization about 3,000 hours per month—a staggering 36,000 hours per year. That’s the equivalent of 18 full-time jobs. Assuming each person filing expenses earned $65,000 in salary and benefits, that represented an annual savings of almost $1.2 million.

An annual savings of 36,000 hours per year and $1.2 million is a huge headline!

Suddenly, she had a much more compelling open with a clear audience benefit: This will not only save you time, but you will be helping our nonprofit organization spend its resources on the people we serve, not on burdensome paperwork.

With that headline serving as her framing statement, the detail she proceeded to offer suddenly fit within a larger context that mattered to the audience. Even better, she further streamlined her presentation by killing some of the less important slides and creating a well-designed takeaway document that allowed her to eliminate several details from her talk. 

Finally, and to her enormous credit, she added her own spin and delivered her revised opening brilliantly, proving that even “boring” topics can usually be made more interesting with enough creative thought.

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

    Brad Phillips

    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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