Technical Stories

By Heather Baldwin

Have you ever sat through a presentation during which the speaker projects a slide showing all the details of how his or her product is structured and connected and then proceeds to explain in detail the fascinating significance of each line in the diagram? Bor-ring! Unfortunately, many presenters selling technical products feel their presentation needs to be equally technical and that they need to give the prospect every minute detail about their solution if they are to have any hope of selling it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the more technical your product, the more important it is to boil down its benefit to the customer into a single analogy or prop. Consider, for example, what one high-tech company did to demonstrate its benefit of reducing and simplifying the wiring of its clients’ computer networks. Working with Corporate Visions, presentations specialists based in Incline Village, NV, the company exchanged its highly technical charts and long-winded explanations for a bowl of cooked spaghetti noodles. The presenter dumped the spaghetti on the table and explained that the spaghetti illustrated what the client’s current wiring structure looked like, a messy jumble linking every which way. The presenter’s solution, he said, could reduce the jumble to a single strand of spaghetti. Side by side, it’s a powerful illustration.

Corporate Visions teaches its clients to do the same thing with Legos, says Jacquie Chandler, marketing/communications director. The presenter might set up multiple stacks of Legos to show clients their current platform structure. Then, picking up a single yellow block, he or she might say: What if you could do everything with this? And then go on to explain the benefits of downsizing to that single Lego. Here’s another example: One company was trying to demonstrate to a prospective customer the benefits of automating a certain task. The presenter pulled out a bowl of M&Ms and said: You need just the chocolate ones and right now you have to pick them all out by hand, Chandler recalls. The presenter went on to show how his company could automate the selection process and what the benefits were. But the presentation didn’t end there. “Interestingly, the presenter left the M&Ms in a bowl with the prospect and when the next company came in to present, their presenter thought it was just a candy jar,” says Chandler. “Every time he reached in to take an M&M, it anchored the previous presenter’s message in the audience’s mind.”

The bottom line is just because your product or service is technical, doesn’t mean your presentation has to be – or that your audience needs or wants to see every last detail of your solution. Get creative, focus on the benefits to the customer and you’ll be surprised how interesting even the most technical topic can become.