Think twice about the topic and length when you present

When invited to speak or present on a topic chosen by someone else, it’s time to negotiate the topic. And when invited to speak for 45 minutes, it’s time to negotiate the length of the talk.

I was recently asked to speak on the subject of differentiation in a sales presentation. I didn’t think that was a good idea.

A company differentiates itself either through its unique products and services, its unique strategy, or perhaps its key competency.  But not through its sales presentations. And how can you differentiate yourself in a sales call if you don’t know what all your competitors are doing in their sales calls?  It’s preposterous. Trying to be different in a sales call is a recipe for burnout.  You are who you are.  Try to be the best you, and try to use the best practices of sales when introducing yourself to prospects.

So I won that argument.

Then there was the time thing.  They wanted me to speak for 45 minutes.

“Why,” I asked.

“Because that’s the time slot.” they said. I wanted to ask them if they would ask me to speak for five minutes if that was the time slot, but I kept it zipped.

What they meant, I assumed, was that I had 45 minutes in which to do whatever I wanted. So I spoke for 30 minutes, and talked to the audience for 15.  Nobody seemed unhappy that I stopped talking and started listening.

So negotiate the topic and negotiate the time.  It’s better for you, the audience, and the sponsors of the event.

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