Change Management Presentations – Want to Open Strong? Plan Your Thesis

What’s the biggest problem when presenting data or analysis? The presenter lacks of clarity around his message and what needs to change. The best way to solve the problem is to plan and present a clear thesis to open the presentation. Let’s find out what it is, and how to do it.

A thesis has a three part formula:

1. It states a problem
2. It suggests solution
3. It poses a question.

All good business writing begins with a good thesis. Take this opening paragraph from an article in the economist magazine.

‘WHY is it so many manufacturers cannot leave well alone? They go to great pains to produce exquisite pieces of technology. Then too often, instead of merely honing the rough edges away to perfection, they spoil everything by adding unnecessary bells and whistles and unwarranted girth. In the pursuit of sales, they seem to feel they must continually add further features to keep jaded customers coming back for more. It is as if consumers can’t be trusted to respect the product for what the designers originally intended.’ Economist August 2009.

This is a good example of a thesis, it starts by posing a question, defines the problem and hints a solution.
Business presentations should be no different from business writing in that they should

1. Open with a problem, to get the clients attention
2. Suggest the direction of a solution, to pique curiosity
3. Pose some questions by means of setting an agenda.

Let’s examine each in turn.

1. Open with a problem:
If you’ve done your analysis well then you should be able to state, with pinpoint accuracy, the nature of your client’s problem. Do this right and it’s as if you’ve grabbed the client by the lapels and shouted “Hey you’d better listen up, this is important.”
2. Suggest a solution:
Rather, you state the direction of the solution. You don’t want to show all your cards at once, because you haven’t sufficiently built the problem. If you show your hand too early you are likely to get objections.
3. Pose some questions:
Though what you are really doing is giving the client an agenda for the rest of the meeting. But you are doing it in a more elegant way, posing questions that need an answer.

Finally once you have planned your presentation thesis commit it to memory. This guarantees that a) you will open strong, and b) should the client ask you to cut to the chase, you can give your thesis therefore demonstrating yourself as a clear thinker worthy of another meeting.

Leaving Presents and the Pseudo Smile

Everything’s sorted. You’ve cleared your desk, Payroll have finally sent through your P45 and you’ve switched on your ‘Out of Office’ for the last time. All that’s left are the leaving presents and the obligatory farewell drinks at the pub next door.

It’s at this point, just as you’re getting stuck into your second Fosters, that your manager steps forward to make the dreaded speech. Your toes slowly start to curl as she reels off the list of fantastic qualities you’ve brought to the role. Qualities, it seems, that have moved the department onwards and upwards. And qualities that, she says with an almost believable regret in her voice, won’t easily be replaced. “Funny”, you think to yourself, given their refusal to award said efforts financially.

And then, just when you think she’s finally winding it down, she throws in the grossly embellished story involving you, the Christmas party and an immaculately carved ice sculpture. People laugh. Not real laughs, mind, but the sort of polite laugh born out of a fear of future streamlining.

And yet still you sit there, smiling in an effort to feign appreciation. Not that it matters – there’s light at the end of the tunnel. All that’s left are the leaving presents. First the card, signed by the team and including copious best wishes. “Thanks everyone” you say, “I’ll read it properly later.” Now onto the business end of things – the leaving gifts. Here’s your chance to recoup, in some small way, time lost sending last-minute, deadline-day Blackberry messages from your holiday sunbed. You’re nearly excited. Odd then, that what you’re being given isn’t even wrapped. Then you realise, this is what it’s come to – a golden handshake in the form of a £20 voucher for HMV.

What’s most annoying about it all though, is just how easy it would’ve been to get you something vaguely meaningful. Surely they could’ve spent five minutes brainstorming a few ideas for leaving presents?! They could’ve done it all from the comfort of their own desks – all it needed was for someone to go online and find a gift site.

Had they bothered, they’d have seen they could even have organised a personalised leaving present for you. An engraved hip flask perhaps. Maybe some sort of spoof calendar. Anything really. And that’s what gets you – it wasn’t a money thing. It was an effort thing. They didn’t bother because they simply didn’t care.

And now all you can think of is how much collection cash you’ve handed over – birthdays, babies, weddings and, most gallingly of all, leaving presents. You could’ve kept that money and bought yourself a boxset with everything you’d have saved. At least that’ll be something to put the voucher towards.

But then, just as you’re midway through making a mental note of who’s going to be ‘defriended’ on Facebook, it dawns on you – it’s you who no longer cares. You never have to go back. And okay, the leaving gifts you’d hoped for never materialised. But you’ve already had the best leaving present possible – freedom. It’s not freedom and a personalised bottle of wine, granted, but it’s freedom nonetheless.

Presenting Your Business Professionally

It is of utmost importance to present your business as professionally and outstandingly at all times to the public. Potential customers will be looking for a professional business from the start making it your job to make sure that you present your reputation as such with the way you conduct business to the personnel you choose to employ.

If you do not accomplish this task then you run the risk of losing out on clients or customers before even being given a chance. An unprofessional appearance will cause them to look elsewhere for services. Poor presentation of your business can cause immediate and long term damage. Everything is taken into account with your professional appearance such as your location or even your letterhead.

You would not have a lot of confidence in a company whose place of business is falling apart or in need of a major repair. In the same sense, if you are using stationary and invoices that look amateur or have inefficient equipment/vehicles then your appearance is that you cannot achieve proper working conditions, thus reflecting poorly on your potential as a business.

If you want to stand any chance against other businesses it is very important to make these kinds of things priorities. Appearances may not be everything, but they are a considerably large factor in this sense. You may offer better services to your customer, but if they are greeted with a sloppy appearance they may be too wary to even extend the business relationship that far.

The same applies to your employees. If they look sloppy or unknowledgeable of the company and its services this puts a bad image in the customers mind and can also bring about damage. It is important for employees to take the extra step to impress the customer and keep them coming back.

It is near impossible for a new business starting out to stand a competition with a reputable business that has been around for many years. The new business needs to demonstrate its professionalism and confidence in its services or it is likely to fail within the first year.

In order to gain customers and clients it is important that the business owner is proud of their services and offerings. If you are pondering starting up a business of some type, these are important items to consider before you begin. Every new business just getting on its feet must strive to look and perform their best on a professional level. The above tips help take into play the possible success versus failure of your business.