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Aflac Uses SlideGenius to Present a New Data-Heavy Sales Strategy to Its Team

Recently, Aflac, the largest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States, utilized our PowerPoint prowess to create a presentation deck for internal use to promote a new sales strategy for their team. aflac2

Aflac has approximately 76,900 licensed sales associates in the U.S. and covers more than 50 million people worldwide, so internal training can be a daunting task for them.

An Aflac Insurance Agent needed to convey his effective new strategy to other sales associates. Insurance sales is drenched in statistics and probabilities, thus his presentation deck had a lot of data to incorporate in order to present his message effectively.

aflac1As we’ve said in the past, data and statistics can be very difficult to incorporate into a presentation in an engaging way, but when the prosperity of your company depends on getting these complex figures across clearly, this salesperson saw that he needed a professional PowerPoint designer to help visualize his data effectively.

 

 

 

Presentation Lessons from the Fed; Intentional Vagueness & Ambiguity

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Alan Greenspan.

In 1987, Alan Greenspan famously said this and confused the crap out of a reporter questioning him about his plans for the Federal Reserve’s position on some matter, which for the sake of this article, is no longer important. Understanding the coded financial jargon, known as “Fedspeak” (a deliberate parallel to “Newspeak” of George Orwell’s novel, “1984”), used by U.S. Federal Reserve officials, is quite the challenge.

Greenspan, much like every other Fed board chairman in history, intentionally uses this vague and ambiguous dialect to answer questions about their monetary policy. In doing this, they can prevent financial markets from overreacting to their remarks. According to Alan Greenspan, the recognized chief in “Fedspeak,” using the coded dialect involves, “purposeful obfuscation to avoid certain questions coming up, which you know you can’t answer.” Here’s an example:

The Fed originally said: “The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period.”

The Fed’s official explanation of this “Fedspeak” phrase reads: “Extended period is conditioned on resource slack, on subdued inflation and on stable inflation expectations.”

Nevertheless, some observers think the phrase actually means something closer to: “the U.S. economy is still doing pretty poorly, and so we really have no clue as to how long the economy will take to recover enough for the Fed to start raising interest rates.”

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Although “Fedspeak” may be useful in political, economic, or governmental situations, a corporate presentation should be exactly the opposite. Any presentation expert will agree with the fact that clear, concise, and tangible information is necessary for a successful and effective PowerPoint presentation.

Have a story to tell before you start creating your PowerPoint presentation. Once you can clearly define your beginning, middle and end, you are ready to begin the presentation design and sequence.

The best way to avoid ambiguity and confusion in your audience can be found in a “three-act story” structure. This structure revolves around these three questions that your audience will ask themselves:

  1. Why should I care?
  2. How will your product make my life better?
  3. What action would I need to take?

Instead of using 30 different statistics, 4 slides of technical data or long background stories, focus on simple, clear, direct language. Make your content easy to understand, easy to remember, and better yet, easy to share. Make your content into universal converter (those big bulky blocks you take on trips to Europe to charge you phone or camera) .

Your content should be universally transferable from Facebook statuses, to Tweets, to text messages. The easier it is for people to share, the more they will.

Ill leave you with Leonardo Da Vinci’s philosophy that Steve Jobs often quoted: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

 

Reference:

Alkalay, Leo. “Understanding Fedspeak.eToro Blog. June 17, 2011.

Using Statistics and Metaphors Effectively in Your PowerPoints

Did you know that every person recorded in history that has been able to lick their elbow has had an IQ characterized as that of a genius?  While the previous statement is a complete fabrication of my imagination, it doesn’t negate the fact that you just thought of licking your elbow to see if you were a genius.

Statistics, metaphors, pictures, videos they all make us think in very specific and useful ways. Knowing how to manage these presentational aids can be what makes your next presentation sound like if you have been taking private classes with Tony Robins.

Presentations bogged down by statistics, overwhelming data, and technical topics can send your audience dozing off in minutes, but never fear, there are a few techniques that can help you convey the true significance of what you’re presenting.

When it comes to data, simplify and get creative.

If you’re presenting your data with a table, you might as well be force feeding sleeping pills to your audience. Instead of cramming all your data on to one page, give each statistic its own page, accompany each with a visual, and present them as individual, easy-to-digest morsels. If you have a slide crammed full with numbers, chances are nobody is going to take anything away from it.

Why should we care?

Statistics can captivate when presented effectively, they just need to be framed in such a way that makes your audience understand their significance. Paint a picture that depicts their relevancy. An excellent example of this was done during the 2012 presidential race when there was much to-do over the net worth of President Obama and of Governor Romney.

Adjusting for inflation, George Washington was the United States' richest president of all time.Obama

While it was revealed that Obama was among the poorest presidents ever elected and Romney was among the most wealthy, their combined wealth didn’t even come close to that of George Washington’s, when adjusting for inflation. Framing statistics in this way helps to give life to numbers that can often be monotonous and sedating, because practical application and historical context can make them much more relatable.

Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors.

If you’ve got a tough sell or a hard point to make, a metaphor can often help paint a picture for your audience to wrap their heads around. Metaphors can evoke an emotional response, which is very desirable when presenting potentially dry information, such as an investment opportunity.

Even better, Visual metaphors

When we listen to something, only 3 percent of our brain neurons are engaged, but when we see an image, that number jumps up to 30 percent. As far as engaging an audience on a chemical level, and ensuring that they retain the information you wish to convey, a visual representation of the conclusion your presentation seeks to reach will be, literally, 10 times more effective.

What you talk about is meaningless unless you know how to express it. It all comes down to two factors: how you say it and how you show it. Whether the topic is stem cell research or peanut butter protein bars, the audience will only care based off of how you present what you are presenting.

Harness the power of these presentational aids, and you will rule the world. Not really, but you will definitely have captivated your audience.

SOURCES:

http://www.slideshare.net/CarlKwan/how-to-present-data-and-statistics-visually

http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/14/george-washington-hoover-jfk-obama-personal-finance-10-richest-presidents_slide_5.html

http://soappresentations.com/the-value-of-metaphor-in-business-presentations/

3 Presentational Skills to Learn From Conan O’Brien

“Starbucks says they are going to start putting religious quotes on cups. The very first one will say, ‘Jesus! This cup is expensive!'” –Conan O’Brien

 

The world is full of people that can stand in front of an audience, or sit behind a desk, and talk for an hour, and in so doing call themselves talk show hosts. What separates Conan from the rest of those “unworthies” is his flawless technique as a presentation expert. Conan’s jokes, one-liners, and funny anecdotes always seem to bring out a steady stream of laughter and applause in every venue.

As one of America’s favorite television hosts, comedians, writers, producers, and voice actors, Conan is known for his “awkward and self-depreciating humor.”

While every presenter has their own style, here are three tips from Conan’s spectacular swag, that as presenters we should study and practice:

1)     Good-natured fun always has a place in a presentation. Whether talking about terrorism, the Queen of England, fast food restaurants, or 100-year-old sea turtles, Conan finds a way to put a humorous spin on any subject. For example, when referencing former President George Bush Sr. at the commencement speech at Dartmouth University, “Behind me sits a highly admired President of the United States and decorated war hero while I, a cable television talk show host, have been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom. I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today.”

Humor has a way with people. It can actually help simplify the most complex issues so they can be understood by children. I shouldn’t have to tell you (but I will anyway) that jokes and humor are all good fun until someone loses an eye (or so the expression goes). While not many eyes have been lost by investor presentations, emotions can be poked at, and people can get offended. Just use good judgment.

2)     Use rhetorical devices. Conan fills his monologues with metaphors, comparisons, statistics, and sarcasm. He uses these devices to convey his overarching themes and messages. In the aforementioned commencement speech, Conan exemplifies this idea by saying “I went from being in the center of the grid, to not only off the grid, but underneath the coffee table that the grid sits on, lost in the shag carpeting that is underneath the coffee table supporting the grid.  It was the making of a career disaster, and a terrible analogy.” Analogies, even those as off-color as this one, can make you more relatable to your audience, and add a human aspect to your presentation.

3)     Your body may be a temple, but Conan’s body is a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. At 6”4, Conan’s long-limbed body caps off with his world-famous fiery red hair. Needless to say he can be easily seen from every angle by his audience. Even so, O’Brien makes an effort to shake or bob his head, dance around, transform his face, or even ride around in his imaginary canoe every couple minutes. He screams, he shouts, he seems like he’s the entertainment at a six-year-olds birthday party, but he does it beautifully and tactically. He keeps the audience’s eyes on him at all times. This is a great skill for any presenter. 

In sum, while you may not be a ridiculously tall, red-headed Harvard graduate with his own talk show, you can definitely apply something from these tips to your next corporate presentation.

Finally, this goes out to you Conan. Stay awesome!