This post has been too long in coming, dating to an outstanding presentation at the American Marketing Association Market Research Conference I chaired. In one of the fastest paced 90 minute presentations I’ve ever seen, Robert Adams, CEO and Founder of Infact Insight, delivered tremendous content (and lots of it) on “Supercharging Presentations – Charts Worth 1000 Words.” As I rapidly tried to live tweet, the session certainly lived up to its supercharged billing!

Here are sixteen creative ideas Robert Adams shared to help rethink how you’re creating and delivering presentations:

General Presentation Reminders

  • While public speaking is among the worst fears, communication skills are important factors in personal financial success. It’s a very worthwhile skill to force yourself to develop, even if it seems uncomfortable.
  • Great presentations take multiple talents, so you’ll likely need collaboration in preparing and delivering one. If you’re presenting regularly, make sure you have a creative team to reach out to for help.
  • Break presentations into three steps: preparation (doing upfront analysis and strategic thinking), creation (distilling the information you need to convey), and delivery (putting everything together and sharing it with the audience).
  • Want to get exposure to lots of powerful presentations? Go to the TED conference website and watch the great presenters showcased there.

Audience Analysis

  • Audience analysis is a fundamental early step in presentation prep. Think through the audience’s composition, personality, and relevant problem definition. Use mind mapping for this last element, starting an issue tree with the primary audience problem, and branching into its components.
  • Determine what it will take to get key audience members to act. What are their wants and needs? What are they for or against, and what’s required to move them effectively?
  • Storyboard your presentation before going to the computer. Sketch an outline in words (and ideally pictures), put it away, and return to review it later. This process takes time, but it pays off in a well-structured, holistic presentation.

Refining Presentation Look and Feel

  • Struggling to think through the right visuals for a presentation? Robert Adams recommends visiting Chart Chooser to help identify appropriate visuals based on your intended message.
  • Since your audience will likely have a mix of big picture and detail-oriented thinkers, look for ways to represent both elements in one graphic to accommodate each type of audience member. Consider how you can use pictures to present quantitative data.
  • Adams recommended using older fonts with historical information – an innovative take I’d never considered.
  • Force yourself to get a presentation to as few pages as possible. The effort to accomplish this will both benefit the presentation and force you to get all the relevant points into your head, avoiding the need to memorize it.

Delivering Presentations

  • Two of the most important moments in any successful presentation are the opening and close. Make sure you have strong, high impact content and staging. Take advantage of the roles primacy and recency play in what your audience will remember.
  • Be open and friendly when delivering a presentation. It’s important to smile, use deliberate gestures, and avoid unnecessary distractions (i.e., poor posture, putting your hands in your pockets, grooming yourself, etc.).
  • Always have a presentation parachute, just in case one or more things go wrong as you’re presenting.
  • When handling questions near the end of a presentation, be mindful of time. Don’t end on questions – instead move into a pre-planned wrap-up in your remaining moments.


  • Step outside of the typical presentation and be different in a positive and distinctive way. Invest the time in preparation and creation to be able to do different things with charts, graphs, and the ways you’ll ultimately deliver a well-rehearsed presentation.

You can check out additional strategic and creative tips on improving your presentations from the Brainzooming archives. And while you’re thinking about it, what’s working for you on the presentations you’re doing?  – Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer.  Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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There are many books on improving your memory.

Yet one key to greater creativity and innovation is the ability to temporarily forget what you know. Doing so allows you to consider creative possibilities you’d otherwise quickly rule out because you know, from experience and knowledge, WHY they won’t work.

This video clip from the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation covers the important innovation perspective of forgetfulness and why’s it’s vital to being more innovative. To learn more about the other innovation perspectives, download the free “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” ebook. – Mike Brown

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We worked Saturday with a great company (and management team), collaborating on better defining their strategy initiatives.

One topic was how they finish projects for customers. While this step could be treated as an afterthought, it’s actually a critical stage on multiple dimensions. If it’s done thoroughly and promptly, it leads to greater success and satisfaction for clients and stronger profitability for the company. Done poorly (i.e., dragging on too long), it can trigger client dissatisfaction on an otherwise successful project and deteriorate profitability as project managers rack up uncompensated hours and can’t move to other projects.

Thinking about it later, finalizing a project is an important phase to have end really well for any project-based business, whether you’re serving external or internal clients.

From working with our client and thinking about this strategic, final step, here are questions we’re considering for Brainzooming™ that apply broadly:

  • Near project’s end, are we revisiting the deliverables and to-do lists, updating and aggressively managing open issues?
  • Are there clear cues signaling we’re done with the project?
  • Does the client fully understand its role in working with the output and implementing it successfully after the project is handed over?
  • What specific questions are we asking to gauge how well we delivered? Are we addressing any points of concern promptly and satisfactorily?
  • Are we asking for referrals?

These are just some questions any project-based professional needs to be answering. What items would you add to the list from your experience?Mike Brown

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Put yourself in a position where you can allow a strategy of patience to work for you, not against you.

  • Have enough opportunities in development so any single one isn’t that critical.
  • Be far enough ahead in seeking knowledge that the learning curve doesn’t have to be accelerated.
  • Live on less than you can afford so money or fears related to it don’t force bad decisions.
  • Serve and cultivate a strong enough network that it’s not necessary to pester any one person for a response to your needs.

Where has a strategy of patience paid off for you?  – Mike Brown

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In a recent TalentZoo.com post called “Thirsting for Originality,” author Danny Goldgeiger addressed the perceived similarity of a Super Bowl ad for Coca-Cola and a nine-year old ad from Israel for a chocolate milk product. Danny G. wrestles with the possibility that wide access to media makes it more, rather than less, likely similar ideas may show up multiple places.

One strategy he suggests to minimize this occurrence is for agencies to push for original ideas, and clients to ask for unexpected things in ads (although in this case, the commercial is unexpected and still looks like a complete rip-off). All the while, he acknowledges it’s still likely ideas will get reprocessed in creative minds and used again.

So what can you do to challenge this tendency to reuse ideas more aggressively? One way is for people involved in creative pursuits to actively manage the media they regularly and deeply consume.

In the original article’s comments, I referenced a Conan O’Brien interview someone had tweeted where he was asked about his TV viewing habits. O’Brien recounted watching anything other than comedy for inspiration. His point was if he invested his time focusing on other late night talk shows, he’d drift over time toward what they were doing. The result? Losing his originality and failing to explore the comedic style most suited to him.

His comments provide a valuable lesson in managing media consumption.

If you want to minimize your own internal rehashing of ideas, think about consciously controlling the media you consume within your category. When seeking out creative inputs, do it more heavily from other industries or market segments. One way I address this is by using the Twitter feed to point me in new directions all the time (vs. working the same strategy, innovation, and creativity news and blog beat over and over).

If you’re in a creative role and you’re able, don’t immerse yourself in a direct competitors’ ads. That may seem radical (especially for a guy who has done a lot of competitive intelligence), but it could provide the right distance to keep your perspective fresh. – Mike Brown

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There are various types of people when it comes to choosing a strategy to deal with the political environment in an organization:

  • One group is oblivious to politics. They are who they are in all situations, completely unfiltered – which is great. But if you have an extreme personality, being exactly who you are will run you needlessly into problems in some, if not many, business situations. I could give you quite a list of people I’ve worked with who went down in flames being incredibly true to their quirky, distracting, or downright obnoxious personalities.
  • There are individuals in another group who constantly change behavior to conform to what they think the particular political environment is in any situation. These people will abandon their opinions, beliefs, and even principles to go with the flow. The result is they are completely unpredictable. While you may want things to be easy, without a predictable foundation for others to know how to work with you, one of two things will happen. You’ll either find yourself working alone or completely surrendering yourself to domineering political personalities in your work environment.
  • A third group invests the time to understand themselves and what’s important to them personally and professionally. They also monitor the political environment and what matters in it – both now and for the longer-term. Armed with this understanding, they make strategic decisions to hold or maneuver their positions based on what’s best for the business (and themselves) to be successful.

The third group has to work the hardest since it’s more involved to maneuver strategically rather than never doing it or doing it all the time. Being in the third group also requires a lot more emotional intelligence, which you may have to work on developing.

Want my advice? Be in the third group. Mike Brown

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Want a great strategy to improve your likelihood of getting more business (and by “business,” I mean doing more of what you do for external customers or internal clients)?

Here’s a simple, yet creative and under-used strategy: Be genuinely enthusiastic about doing what you do to help other people.

Talking recently with a potential service provider, I was struck by her contagious enthusiasm. Spending time on the phone with her made me more enthusiastic, increasing my interest in working with her tremendously.

Yes, she has talent. Yes, she has ideas. But most importantly, she has an overt, infectious attitude which right away puts her ahead of anybody else I might consider. It’s clear – she LOVES what she does!

What are you doing to show your enthusiasm for the people you want to serve?Mike Brown

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