Act Up During Your Next Presentation

By Heather Baldwin

When you want your presentation to be really memorable, ditch the PowerPoint slides and tired old presentation formats and instead put on a skit. They’re fun, they can convey the same information as a standard speech and you’re certain to stand out in a lineup of vendors vying for a contract.

That’s what one marketing manager of a cable network decided to do when she needed to present ideas on how to drive ratings for their new primetime lineup. Her group put together a list of strategies and tactics, but they wanted a fun, memorable format to present them to a cross-functional team, including the CEO and COO of the company. The solution, says Anthony Schneider, author of Tony Soprano on Management (Berkley Books, 2004), was a skit. The skit, says Schneider, used shows from the new lineup as vehicles to articulate the group’s ideas. “They acted out a mock talk show and a fake sitcom; they even took a commercial break,” he says. Everyone in the audience laughed—and remembered what they’d heard.

Think your product isn’t fun enough to be worked into a skit? Nonsense. With some creativity any product or service can be made into an entertaining and informative production. Say you sell bottled drinking water and are trying to convince prospects to install several water cooler stations throughout their facilities. You could put on a skit showing a snapshot of the prospect’s office life with the new product, working in facts about how your purified water can increase productivity, health and morale. Sprinkle the skit with some funny lines using your inside knowledge of the prospect’s company and the presentation will be a huge hit.

Or say you sell CRM software. You could do a before-and-after skit showing a customer interacting with your prospect’s company. Find a real example of one of the prospect’s negative customer experiences and act it out. Then show how the same scenario would have played out if the prospect had been using your software. Again, work key facts and answers to common questions into the scripted conversation. Audience members will remember the presentation and remember the information, which means they’re more likely to remember you when it’s time to choose a vendor.