I just spent a few days with several scientific presenters from the pharmaceutical industry. Their company wanted them to be more persuasive when presenting their research to internal business decision makers.
To prepare for the assignment, I conducted a series of interviews to determine what the scientific presenters thought they needed to be more persuasive, and what the decision makers thought they needed. The two groups had very different points of view, and they were both right.
The scientists top concerns were in the area of delivery. Some presenters with foreign accents were concerned about their voice, some said that they needed to get to the point sooner, others faulted their bosses for not paying attention, and still others said it was their own responsibility to capture attention.
The bosses on the decision-making panel said that the scientific presenters tended to think that their data was the presentation. The bosses wanted the data interpreted. They wanted to know what the researchers thought about the data, and what the company should do given the results.
My sense is that the scientists were feeling uncomfortable speaking to their seniors. Perhaps they had been scolded in the past. And they were also afraid to promote themselves. They did not want to appear to be selling their projects to senior management: they thought it was unprofessional.
The bosses were tired of being dragged through endless PowerPoint slides when all they really wanted to know was, “Should we continue to invest in this research project or not? And why?”
I’m happy to report that we are making progress.
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