A Baker’s Dozen of “Do’s” for Delivering Data

When ’tis the season for situation analysis presentations within pharma, that time of year when analytics presents its thinking, its data, (and its people) to its own captive market, what works best?

Not surprisingly, what works best is identifying the needs of the audience, constructing a talk that meets those needs, and controlling your desire to do it your own way.

  1. Meet audience needs

Your audience is time-pressed, content driven, and results-oriented. While you want to give them an accurate picture of the market, it is best to do so concisely.

It’s an old line and an older truth: It takes a long time to construct a short presentation.

  1. Think, then write

Since your presentation is your departmental product, and your chance to make your mark on marketing management, build it with care. Rather than starting the creative process by selecting slides, begin by asking yourself the tough questions–about  your goals, your audience, your strategy, and your messages.

  1. Analyze them

You may know many of the audience members personally. Or, you may be a rookie. Take time as a group to think about their interests, and the questions they might have. Interview your higher-ups if possible. Get their advice. Socialize your presentation.  Go through an analytical process to unearth any and all assumptions you may be making that could undermine your success.

  1. Make key points

It’s an old trick, but it’s old because it works. Audiences like it when you lay out your main points, or you tell them what you’re asking for. Of course they have to know the SWOT analysis, but they are looking for clues, hints, and trends to protect against the downside and maximize any opportunities that might exist. Develop a list of the key points that emerge from the data.

  1. Know why

Perhaps the most common mistake speakers presenting data make is that they fail to establish a compelling reason for why the audience should listen. Instead, speakers tend to jump right into the data. Nothing is more important than arousing a sense of curiosity and interest in your audience.

Don’t step to the front of the room thinking they are waiting with bated breath to hear your message. Instead, strive to capture their attention. Say something that will make them sit up and listen. After all, your audience will be sitting all day. They will welcome a bit of edutainment.

  1. Make it memorable

As speakers, we need to answer this question: “If the audience can only remember one thing, what will it be?”

Once you define that, strive to turn it into a memorable nugget. For instance, “Build a house of bricks” is stronger and more memorable than “establish barriers to competitive intrusion.”

  1. Tell a story

Make your product the hero of the story. Describe your product’s current circumstances. Then describe what’s disrupting her happiness. Competition intrudes, adverse events occur, something upsets the balance in her life. What is she going to do? What obstacles must she overcome? Why are these terrible things happening to her? And how can she find her way through these difficulties to realize her potential and live happily ever after?

  1. Storyboard it

Create a storyboard, like a film director. Write a title for each slide–a title that dramatizes the main idea.

Don’t use “Phrase Headlines” such as “Trimester Outlook.” There is no intellectual substance in that phrase. It’s dead wood. Inert.

Write a short sentence that summarizes the main point of the slide. For instance, “Bio-availability is our Achilles heel,” or “Physicians are skeptical.” These titles are summary statements. Recent research proves such titles boost retention.

  1. Develop transition statements

If you’re going to lose your audience, chances are it will be when you change slides. Develop transition statements so that you introduce the next slide while you are still on the current one.For instance, while still on the current slide you could say, “There are three reasons for the slowdown,” and then move to the next slide where you introduce the three reasons.

  1. Tell ‘em 3 times

If you can, roll up all your research into a few key findings that are easy to remember. And tell ‘em in the beginning and at the end what those key findings are.

  1. Eliminate the extraneous

The audience is not a sponge that exists only to soak up your data. Keep your goal and key points in mind at all times. Again, remember that your senior executives are time pressed, content driven, and results oriented. And often they have to sit there all day listening to presenters. Be kind. Be smart. Be brief.

And if you don’t want to talk about something, don’t put it on the slide.

  1. Rehearse

Rehearsal ain’t for sissies. You need to verbalize in front of those who know the product, the market, and the internal audience. Get all the support you can. (This should have been a major point at the start of this article.)

And one more for bonus points.

  1. Be passionate

Emotions are contagious. Find your data fascinating, and take your audience on a journey into the amazing world of your product. The drier the material, the more important is the delivery.  Good delivery stands guard over content.

This is your chance to shine. You are a strategic advisor to senior decision makers. Speak to them in their language about what’s most important to them.

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