Product presentations are like a long horned steer. A point here, a point there with a lot of bull in between. (Attributed to Alfred E. Neuman)
Time is the least thing we have of – Ernest Hemingway
If you’re like me, your inbox is seldom empty of invitations to events. “Opportunities” to learn about industry trends, hear from “leaders,” network, and, by the way, see, try, or experience the hosts products. Throw in some tchotchkes and a free meal – what have you got to lose?
Plenty, it would seem – either as a host or attendee – especially if you value your time.
Against my better judgement, I allow hope to prevail over experience and go to some of these events. You can occasionally learn a few things and meet some interesting folks. There is that little voice in your head intoning “you never know/unless you go.” Even without an explicit charge, the cost of these benefits can include:
- Travel time
- Parking and tolls
- Extra waiting time – Starting “a few minutes” late waiting for stragglers. I. e., let’s hope a few more attendees show up, so the forum won’t look so lonely.
- The gratuitous irritation of overly long, dumbed-down sales pitches pretending to be knowledge and insight
- Adding injury to insult, the events are often prolonged by adding
coffee breaks. Opening coffee is fine; but why should the event require another caffeine boost? In any event, the coffee is seldom drinkable
- Lunch – cold pizza, stale sandwiches, grim buffets – yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a free lunch
- Drawings for “Prizes” such as the tsatskes they couldn’t give away at your last trade show
- An “inspiring” lecture from an “industry guru” a.k.a. an executive at the host firm with time to kill before his next flight
- The assumption that as long as you’re there, they can add just one more demo or product pitch
As a result, both you and the host spend too much time for too little benefit. From the the piles of undisturbed collateral and untouched pastry and sandwiches, one might gather that the opportunity cost in time was too high and people bailed. As an added bonus, you may also alienate prospects, who are actually interested in and would benefit from your offering.
This is not that difficult to improve if not solve.
- Keep it short
- Increase the ratio of signal to noise or content to fluff
- Leave the audience wanting to comeback for more rather than raring to get out the door
- When tempted to add more slides to your presentation deck (while you’re at it) – don’t
- Archive and publish the events online promptly
Your attendees may be so grateful four your respecting their time, that some become customers.