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Every time I present, I ask the audience to complete a Plus-Minus-Interesting-Recommendation (PMIR) sheet. This great technique provides incredible feedback on what each audience finds valuable or would like changed in the strategy and innovation training presentations I conduct.

When reviewing PMIR sheets after a presentation, I always start with the “minus” comments to see what the audience thought should be changed. Invariably the most frequent comments are about the desire to spend more time on the topic. For that, I’m deeply appreciative.

The Challenge with Case Studies in Presentations

Another frequent minus is the request for more case studies. I typically don’t do many case studies in presentations for three reasons.

  • The first is you never know how truthful a case study reported in the press really is. Having led marketing communications in a Fortune 500 company and worked with prominent media publications, it was clear a published case study is often, if not highly fictionalized, at least an incredibly sanitized version of what actually took place. Far be it from me to muddy the waters further by adding a third-hand interpretation.
  • The second reason is I consider the work The Brainzooming Group performs for clients to be proprietary, so I’d only be willing to talk about it in generalized terms. Many people don’t even perceive that as a case study. (The ability to talk about the Google Fiber effort and share the deliverable, in fact, was one of the reasons we got involved in the Gigabit City project.)
  • The third reason is while people like to hear case studies, the way most are presented seems to be of little value. They’re typically a recitation of industry or company-specific steps that often have little applicability to anyone, other than a direct competitor.

Making Case Studies More Valuable

When talking about potential case studies, however, I approach case studies differently:

  • Generalize the business situation in the case study to represent a model that can be applied in many business situations. This cuts out a lot of the detail that narrows the applicability of a typical case study.
  • Figure out what steps would allow the outcome in the case study to be repeated – if it’s a desirable outcome (or avoided if it isn’t a great result). I look for questions or tactics critical to someone else trying to repeat the outcome in their own business situation.
  • Highlight the potential lessons learned from the model that others would want to replicate or avoid, as appropriate.

This strategic approach makes a case study much more valuable than simply reporting what somebody else said in a magazine. My approach is oriented toward lessons you can readily pick up and consider applying.

What Makes Case Studies Work for You?

Having said that, however, I am exploring ways to do more case study-oriented content in my training presentations. If the audience is looking for it, then it’s definitely worth adapting my strategy.

If you have ideas about what makes a case study valuable for you, please share it. I’d love to incorporate the thinking of Brainzooming readers to add more value to presentations and to the blog!  – Mike Brown

 

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2 Responses to “Making Case Studies in Presentations More Valuable”

  1. Yes sharing case studies can be a mixed bag of nuts.  Many times we hear “share more case studies” when in fact what they want is something that helps them justify making the decision they want to make inside their own company.

    The other half of the time afterwards I will have people approach me with the same questions when I give case studies and when I do not.  So on my end I am evaluating how did that change any behaviors?

    What are your thoughts?

    • Mike Brown says:

      You point about people wanting the ammo to justify making a decision is an important one, Michele. I think the preference for case studies could emerge from a desire to validate decisions by knowing someone else did the same thing and found a certain type of result. It’s not realistic to think that a conference presentation is going to be able to provide that validation. That’s why I tend to share a variety of tools the audience can choose from to make their own business decisions!