By Katie Cambron
Preparing for a business meeting or presentation requires a higher level of energy and preparation than you had to have in high school. This isn’t a “couple of hours the night before” kind of show anymore. You’re in the big leagues now, and conveying your next big idea or message requires more than flashcards and practice in front of the mirror.
In today’s business meetings and presentations; if you have something to say, you have to show it. You have to not only earn the audience’s attention, but maintain it for minutes, sometimes hours. That’s an especially difficult challenge when the audience’s temptation to pull out their phones is ever-present. How the most successful presenters have conquered this battle for attention is by upping their arsenal of tricks. Whether it’s through dynamic customized videos, interactive speeches, and eye-catching stage setups, meetings aren’t just a meeting. It’s a show. And with any show, sometimes things don’t go according to plan, especially if you’re not prepared or have little experience staging presentations. Being ready the day of the event is just a small portion of what professional agencies do to get business leaders ready to step out onto the stage.
What Do You Want to Communicate?
It all starts with a simple question. If you have the fundamental mission of getting people together for a meeting, convention, convocation, or gathering, it’s because you need to communicate something. Regardless of what it takes to deliver the message, it has to start with a vision. You have to start with a message or idea you want to communicate, from there, the professionals can devise a strategy for that message.
Similar to how a football team devises and practices plays and goes into each game with a strategy for a winning result, a professional agency should help a business break down the main message into individual key points and organize them in a way to win over the audience. The message delivered has to be more thought out than just, “We want to increase sales.” The audience is expecting the speaker to have thought out this whole strategy so that they can say at the end, “Oh, I get it.” However, in order to do that, you need to have a strategy that’s in place connecting each point starting with your opening message, leading all the way to the final send-off.
What Are the Best Tools to Relay Your Message?
A meeting or presentation is more than what you want to say. It’s more than the words on the page. It’s about how you communicate those words. With technological advances, gone are the days of just a speaker at a podium. Lighting cues, music cues, and visual cues, are all a part of helping to maintain audience attention and punctuate specific points in the presentation. If you sell a retail product and are hosting an annual sales meeting, showing an inspirational video created by a professional team with quotes from customers, edited with clips showing the product in use, set to a motivational song, will make much more of an impact as an opening statement than just saying, “We had a great year.”
The technology that’s available now has led to presentations feeling more like a Vegas show than a professional event. However, is a crazy light show with loud rock music blaring over the speakers the best way to communicate your message? When you partner with a professional agency, they can make the best recommendations that emphasize your message and fit well into the determined strategy – not distract from it. An audience handout or a unique take-home item might be a better fit for some brands. Aligning the right tools with the physical and mental takeaways is key to making an impression that will stick with audiences for days and months to come.
How Will You Inspire the Audience?
If you are hosting a large company meeting, throwing a bunch of data and statistics on the screen isn’t going to necessarily light a fire under your audience. People don’t want to be inundated with data. People want to be inspired. There are a million ways to position this message or data, but it really has to be about your audience. Once again, the audience has a low attention threshold. You have to have somebody on stage who is able to articulate and can speak their language. It may not be the CEO, but it should be someone that the audience respects and will want to listen to. A professional agency can help you identify the best person in your company for the job. If you engage the audience with a speaker that’s on their level, then you are that much closer to a successful meeting.
People can never get enough appreciation, gratitude, respect, and praise. This is one of the easiest ways to win over the audience that many businesses forget about. However, thanking your company, workers or shareholders only goes so far. When you work with someone who has been doing this for decades, they can work with you to figure out what exactly will acknowledge and inspire the audience.
Are You Ready to Host a Professional Meeting?
Are you effectively communicating business goals and success stories through a message-driven strategy that gets people excited? If that’s not the case, then why bother? The goal of the best professional agencies should always be to stage something that’s thought-provoking, inspiring, motivational, and that communicates your strategy in a way that people go “Wow, that’s cool!” Because, in the end, a meeting isn’t just a meeting.
Katie Cambron is the public relations and marketing manager for Switch in Saint Louis