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Observing Corporate Storytellers (or being observed) in the wild

Kid with binoculars... must be watching something interesting!

Given my vocation, it shouldn't be surprising that I watch a lot of presentations.

It can be painful to watch most professional presentations. At best, most are 'meh' and unmemorable. Convince me otherwise.

But it's fun to watch true artists at work.

Artists make complex topics interesting, fresh, and memorable - and deliver it in a way that just makes sense. It's hard not to like the person presenting.

The good news is that most of us can learn to be presentation artists - I call them Corporate Storytellers.

We give workshops that teach a process to develop and deliver presentations that use the critical elements of persuasion.

But participants often have a gnawing fear:

"Are other groups using this process too?!?"

The short answer is: Yes. They are.

There are two valid, underlying concerns. Let me address each in turn.

"If a competitor is using the Corporate Storytelling process it won't give me a competitive advantage."

Even if you and your competitor are using Corporate Storytelling with the same customer, at least you've achieved something approaching competitive parity from a process perspective. The alternative is they use CS and you don't, which means they're more likely to win hearts and minds... and the sale.

But beyond that, it's how you use the process. How well do you know your customer audience? Did you differentiate your idea or solution? How compelling, explicit, and relevant are the benefits of your idea or solution? How effective are your frames and evidence? Do you sufficiently practice your delivery? Do you prepare for (and practice) handling objections?

Regardless, as the presenter it is up to you to develop and deliver a persuasive message. Do it well and you're an artist that your customer wants to listen to.

"If my audience has been through the workshop, they'll recognize my process, see what I'm trying to get them to do, and judge me."

That is probably true. And it's okay.

They understand the process and the ingredients.

Rather than being surprised by your message and delivery (like a general audience), they are more likely to be intrigued by what you select to put into your message - especially your frames, benefits, and use of evidence.

And you can often pick them out - they're the ones sitting forward in their seats with a grin as they're trying to figure out "Where is she going with this frame... aha! She tied it to ______!"

If you've been through the workshop, you did that when you watched your peers present each day. Now your audience is watching someone with even more experience and confidence using the process - and it shows.

They're watching an artist.

Be the artist. Don't be meh.

Meh. Adjective. Uninspring; unexeceptional.

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