PowerPoint is often the program of choice for creating any ole document — and often the wrong choice. For more about how we acquired this bad habit and why you may want to break it, see this article. This article provides tips on which program to use for what.
This article is not meant to bring the news PowerPoint tends to induce boredom—we all know that—it’s about why that happens. The inspiration is the many organizations which use PowerPoint for almost every sort of document, even though that’s less productive and most people dislike seeing it.
So how did we get to this sad state? Here’s what I think got rolling when PPT came out:
First of all, creating and decorating decks was fun. It was suddenly easy to insert spiffy clipart, add color, make text into neato shapes–kind of a business version of playing with crayons and a coloring book. It’s still fun to create and decorate slides, so much so we often forget about meaningful and effective content.
Secondly, the deck presentations were impressive. When PPT came out back in the early 1990’s, audiences were rightfully wowed. Beautiful backgrounds, fancy charts, slides that seemed to move. Zowie. The PowerPoint habit lives on, even though most people are now unimpressed and many decks are crammed with text. Which brings us to the biggee…
PowerPoint dropped the bar for acceptable writing quality to an unprecedented low. All you needed to write was headlines and bullet points–didn’t even need full sentences. This is still true and I have a hunch it’s one of the main reasons PowerPoint is still prevalent and so often used inappropriately.
The Power of a Bad Habit
A quarter-century after PowerPoint hit our PCs, many who reluctantly use it say they do so because it is expected (it’s an organizational norm). Some say they use it because it supposedly helps them quickly produce a deliverable. Here is why that speed is a myth, and why breaking the PowerPoint habit is worth it. (more…)
Consultants who must also sell often experience a number of challenges. Let’s tackle them one by one.
Discomfort With the Sales Role
If our picture of “selling” includes a pushy unprofessional person who cares mostly about their own wallet… It’s no wonder we don’t want to take on that role. Fortunately, that’s an outmoded image no one need take on. The perfect sales approach for consultants is “consultative” selling:
Uncovering each prospect’s wants, needs and interests. And then – when appropriate – offering services and products to meet those wants, needs and interests.
Too Much Consulting, Too Little Selling
This issue is part nomenclature and part…well, part conceit (not that yours truly is personally familiar with that). Here’s the scoop:
Normally, consultants ask questions to gather information to assess the situation. In selling this is called “uncovering wants, needs and interest.” That’s a matter of nomenclature. Once consultants recognize how to apply these familiar skills they’re part way to success.
After some sort of informal assessment, most consultants then give general or high level advice. They talk about how they would solve the problems, improve the situation, help reach objectives. In selling this is called “presenting.” Again a matter of nomenclature but here is where many consultants run into difficulty.
Consultants can get so caught up in showing off their marvelous advice-capacity, they forget the deal is not yet set. They leave the meeting feeling great—then crash when the “client” doesn’t come through with a contract, after all.
There is another problem to bring up before covering how to address the above issues. (more…)
The training, teaching, and performance development field has its fads and slang — like any other. Ages ago, training was often described as an “intervention,” prompting an image of someone running into a classroom and yelling, “Stop! Stop!” These days it’s common to see we pros described as “learning” professionals. Now, most of us are into learning on a lifetime basis, that’s certainly true. However, calling us “learning” professionals is so, so wrong. (more…)
Audio, visual, tactile, experiential, kinesthetic…these are learning styles, right? Not quite. It’s true that adults tend to prefer one of those for receiving information. However; adults learn new skills such sales or service skills only one way: by doing. (more…)
When teaching skills such as telemarketing, selling, or service, you need to cover concepts and then provide lots of time for practice. Alas, workshop time is almost always at a premium. If you spend a lot of time teaching concepts, you won’t have enough time to practice applying those concepts and the results will be unsatisfactory.
To free-up workshop time, you can teach concepts and information ahead of the workshop in self-study pre-work. (more…)