Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On Social Media & The Art of the Presentation

Industry presentations can be hit or miss from both an audience and a presenter perspective. At a recently attended "talk" on social media best practices and trends, there was some solid information (though general) provided about social media, yet there was also one critical issue which hampered the presentation. This got me thinking about the art of the presentation. The main issue with this presentation was a mismatch between audience and content. A deadly sin to commit in a room full of professionals. Knowledgeable audiences means specifics, details, case studies, and critical data analysis and implications…not hype.

The point here is not to troll, but rather to think critically about the ways we can improve social media strategies and improve our abilities to present.

First, I provide a few take-aways from the event on social media (with a heavy dose of my own fill-in-the-blanks), and second, I provide some basic advice for the uninitiated on how to produce engaging, lively presentations. If these take-aways on social media seem too general and basic, that is because they are/were, which was the main issue with the presentation.

Yet, it is important to share ideas, and some notes I provide here might be new(ish) or interesting to the Nodes blog audience.     

I am Social Media Presentations, You Can Too.   
  • Video is an increasingly important medium in social media practice. (No brainer there). 
  • On mobile devices, video is preferred over dense text content. (Again, no brainer).
  • Short videos with key points and calls-to-action are common but effective.
  • Mobile devices are surpassing desktops as the preferred means of interconnection, thus social media needs to be tailored to both mobile and desktop audiences; address interactivity, UI, and UX on both platforms.
  • Paramount to video production is quality, narrative, length, exposition, and purpose.
  • Always think about the who, what, where, why, and how
In terms of videos, the presenter (paraphrasing here) suggested: be tight, succinct, get the customer through the door; invite them to the next step; at the end of video provide a call-to-action. If the video is too long, you might miss the chance to provide the call to action. Has the audience “checked out” before the good stuff?

Create, Engage, Create 
Consider that maybe we are not trying to “sell” at all. Maybe the goal is to share some cool content related to your products or services, which generates interest from audiences, who then seek/share more information helping to create a larger community of users and stakeholders…engage and create (wash, rinse, repeat)…know the techno-cultural identities of your audiences…social media can help generate/cull some of that data…Always be selling/closing?...hmmm…always be engaging might be a better mantra.

Critical questions to consider with video usage in social media marketing and business communications:

  1. What kind of video type?: technical, social, funny, overviews, advertisements, teasers, community builders, responses, humble brags, demonstrations, calls-to-engage, or contests.  
  2. Which platforms are best positioned for the  marketing message(s) to reach target audiences and to expand current, already-invested audiences?
  3. Professional content and user content?
  4. B2C or B2B?
  5. Analytics? How and what data will you collect?
  6. Attribution? How can you track data to sources and unearth click-chains?
  7. ROI: can be quantified in any number of ways: lead generation, traffic volume, user activity, cultural “buzz,” sales, etc.
  8. Timeliness of videos? 
3 Critical Factors to Measure in Social Media

1. fan reach
2. engagement
3. amplification

Do Something Meaningful 
There is no substitute for a “good” product and media content that is interesting and important to the audience, but that also meets the goals of the company and its overall marketing strategy. Develop something meaningful and useful. Develop something new. The world is full of half-rate products and poorly designed media destined for the landfill, the end result of which is environmental degradation, economic debt, and visual smog.

Is a like, +, pin, retweet, or upvote a good indicator of audience involvement and buy-in? Interest yes…potential purchases…I am not so sure. Customer social media actions like these are just one metric, along with many, that can be engaged/measured/analyzed to execute/manage effective social media marketing strategies. 
"There go my people, I better find out where they are going so I can lead them." - Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rolli
Consider where you want to drive and funnel traffic: social media platforms or the company website or both…in which order and why? Varied content, varied traffic, varied platforms, varied needs.
  • Is the goal of social media to generate interest and then direct users to the website? 
  • To use social media channels as legitimate appendages in the overall marketing strategy?
  • Is the goal to create community? 
  • Does your audience and the consumers desire community? 
  • Does a community already exist? 
  • What benefits does building a tribe bring to the company, stakeholders, and the user groups?  

The Four (4) Phases of Measurement & Attribution in Social Media 
  1. awareness phases – users become acquainted with widgets
  2. research phase – users research widgets and read user reviews (ask Zappos about the power of user review)
  3. shopping phase – users surf varied sites for deals
  4. conversion phase – how much “dough” you are making homey.
Critical question: How do customer product reviews or user generated content inform/complicate/enliven the social media marketing space? This might include reviews on Amazon, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, community boards, fan forums, etc….and lest we forget Reddit.

A few social media marketing models:

  1. U shaped - attribution model 
  2. linear ratio
  3. even distribution 
  4. single click only (first or last) 
One of the more interesting highlights was a SAP case study that showed multi-channel attribution tracked using Google analytics. SAP created video tutorials on its blog site, which increased traffic to its company website. These videos were accessed through the blog and not on traditional pages on the main company website. Could it be that the informality of the blog space lends itself to video tutorials? Might the blog format be a space where users are more likely to watch videos in a space where they don’t feel they are being overtly marketed or sold?  

Some more Critical Questions
  1. What is your business and is there value in social media spaces? 
  2. Is it about volume or quality engagement?
  3. How does your social media strategy embed into the overall organizational plan?
  4. How do we measure and analyze conversion rates, costs, & ROI?
  5. What is happening in social media spaces in your industry? 
Four Keys to Social Media

  1. integration
  2. amplification
  3. iteration
  4. attribution
The Art of Speaking
Here I suggest a few pointers to consider when presenting. Presentations are like creating music…you orchestrate a number of moving pieces. And when done well…lively dynamic presentations are part art, part performance, part lecture, part conversation.
Here are a few thoughts on ways to conduct productive, informative, and engaging presentations.

  • Be aware of body language, positioning, pacing, volume, and eye contact.
  • Movement can be good. Stone statues are nice in parks but not in presentations. 
  • Use hand gestures to emphasize points, but not too much where body movement draws attention from the ideas.
  • Bite off what you can chew. Similar to sentence construction, don’t pack too much into too short a vocal space. Running out of breadth half-way through an idea screams run-on sentence, run-on thought. 
  • Use pauses for emphasis, let some information hang for effect and digestion. 
  • Arrive early, know the space, have back-up tech, and prepare in advance.
A cool comment from a colleague to help manage public speaking anxiety is to bring a photo or object of someone/something that you care about and that you can glance at occasionally to help you maintain an emotional center. There are also a number of stress management techniques to employ: diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, imagery and visualization, mantras, and meditation.

One possible way to construct your presentation (and there are many ways)
1.    Assemble your content first, know it.
2.    Craft the introduction: similar to marketing collateral, you can lose the audience quick.
3.    Craft the close
a.    What’s the benefit, or, if there is one, the call to action? (e.g. There are important reasons to engage in social media marketing. SM can help you in concrete ways if you do the following…”)
4.    Build the body-content.
5.    Use a variety of different visual mediums to present information. If you are talking about multi-media marketing, you may want to yourself actually use multi-media tools and platforms. E.G. talking about video in social media? Show a short clip, dissect it, discuss its strengths and weaknesses.
6.    Work on the close. Coffee and green jackets are for closers. Don’t go gentle into the good night at the end of your presentation, letting momentum slip away. Finish strong. Sum the key points. Sum the implications of action or the consequences of inaction. 
7.  Be fun. Be passionate. Be informed. Be professional. Be engaging.
8.  Don't stumble and apologize. The show must move on. 
9.  Know your stuff.
10.Consider the 10-20-30Rule: A powerpoint presentation should have no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes, and have no less than 30 point font text size. Or maybe you don’t use PPT at all.

Know Who You Are
Develop your personal shtick. What makes you unique?…your sense of humor…ability to see connections…personal experiences…deep understanding of the material…what is it about you that is awesome as a person?...integrate this…draw from others you admire, but craft your own voice and style.

Know the Audience
Understanding demographics is important in marketing and important in presentations.

Age, knowledge levels, reasons for attending, cultural idiosyncracies, industry relation, time allotments, room size, and many more factors must be taken into consideration before conducting a presentation.

Know the Content
  • Know the material. Confidence is built through rigorous inquiry and study. 
  • Do the reading.  
  • Keep the amount of slide information to a minimum. 
  • Dense slides in large rooms lose audiences; they strain to see the content and then give up. 
  • Providing slides in advance allows audiences to more closely follow the presentation.
  • Consider having audiences pull-up supporting web pages with detailed information about your presentation. 
  • Make it interactive.  
A wise preparatory move is to have attendees fill out pre-meeting surveys; the answers to which can be used to help tailor the presentation toward the motivations/needs of the audience. 

There is always tension between providing the audience the information they desire and providing the information you think they need to know in order to grasp key concepts.

Engage the Audience
Integrating the audience into the presentation can be a fun and dynamic way to keep viewers engaged. There is a balance though between when to open the floor to questions and when to push forward with the material. Setting aside time for questions before movements between majors concepts in a presentation allows the audience to engage while protecting the flow of the presentation.

Using technology to conduct polls before, during, and after the presentation can be very effective in gathering data that can help presenters produce higher quality presentations. Use Twitter during the presentation to take questions that you can address at the end. There are also the added benefits of spurring online dialogues and continuing the dialogue after the presentation.

  1. Proficiency comes with practice. 
  2. Practice the presentation with a mock audience using available audio and visual technology. 
  3. Practice allows you to adjust flow, meter, and rhythm. 
  4. Use your time effectively. 
  5. Stay on point. 
  6. It’s easy to run too short or too long; find the middle path.

Don’t read the presentation verbatim, rattling off the bullet points word for word.

Brain Freeze? Have key ideas – with a few explanatory words – on a computer or tablet…or heck…if the Luddites prefer…on 3x5 note cards…recall the point, scan the audience, and continue the narrative.

Don't Explain the Obvious
Explain graphs, tables, and figures clearly and concisely. And don’t discuss the obvious data points. We can all see “26% of the user group engaged the blank”…why is this data important? Put the data into context, read between the data sets, and draw out the larger implications and what inferences we can make based on those implications.  

Realize that you have information that your audience is often eager to learn. Be excited about that information or (if the topic sucks) find some aspects that are important to either you or your audience.

TL; DR  When presenting…be part professor, part storyteller, part comedian, part activist, part evangelist, and part scientist…result…people learn, have fun, and leave thinking differently about the themselves and their place in the multi-verse…they remember you, the company, and the important values and ideas it represents.     

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