- Having strategic team and plans is essential, but how can we evaluate the quality of Strategic Planners’ contributions?
LA: Michelin inspectors look for quality, originality and consistency to grant a restaurant one of their stars. If you follow their route you’ll be in good shape in evaluating your planners performance. The quality of their work is measured by how close or far they are in helping your business or department reach its goals. Originality of their work is measured by how creative and resourceful their suggested strategies and tactics are in achieving those targets. Consistency of their deliverables is measured by the benchmark of the first two categories. If they’re always on target, creative and resourceful, then they’re consistent.
Having said that, the world’s greatest planners miss sometimes – the key word here is ‘sometimes’. If your business is too small to have your team of strategic planners, hire someone or a company on a project basis to help you put one together. Businesses that think they can’t afford to pay for effective plans, can’t afford to be in business…and that’s just my two cents.
- I really HATE preparing slide-presentations. And when it involves a sales pitch my stress level shoots up to the moon. What can I do to turn this experience to a positive one for me during preparation and for prospects during meetings?
LA: You come across as a Librarian who hates books. Slide presentations can be a lot more enjoyable than what most managers torture their audience with. Many managers think mistakenly that their slides contain what they’re trying to convey. What they don’t realize is that they are the presentation and the slides are nothing but a tool to help them set the scene. A storyteller can excite an audience without the use of any slides, but a group of slides can’t generate the same impact and emotional connection on their own.
Stories can be emotional, convincing, or even suspenseful. However, the common three qualities that exist in all great live presentations are creative, short and attention grabbing. To keep it short, if you’re presenting live, your slides should not repeat what you’re saying. People will either listen or read; you want them to listen. So, stick to big pictures, big words, and/or numbers – think ‘magazine covers’. How do you know if you’re on track? If someone views your slides without you, they should not be able to get the full picture.
To grab the attention of your audience start with a nice hook or intro. This doesn’t have to be on a slide – remember, you are the presentation; not everything you say should be on the slides. Also, you shouldn’t present any sales pitch without creating enough interest and desire in your prospects’ minds about you and your brand. Therefore, drop all the boring slides about your company. Highlight the problem or challenge (there’s always one in every story), knock them out with a great solution, and finish with a few strong reminders. Be prepared to show some slides showing key details and justifications, if, and only if, you’re asked for them. If all of the above still sounds like a nightmare, then presenting is not for you…and that’s just my two cents.
- As if trying to beat the competition isn’t hard enough, we’re seeing more riots, shootings, and stabbing in malls, while the impact of financial crisis is still lingering. How can any retailer survive in such market conditions?
LA: First, I hope you’re speaking metaphorically when it comes to beating the competition. Everybody needs to chill out these days; which reminds me of a friend who booked a short getaway with his wife to an Indonesian island during a season known for its good weather. Upon their arrival, the couple kept repeating to themselves, “When it rains it pours.” The couple cancelled their reservation the next morning. Aiming to help, the concierge recommended a nearby island equipped with adventurous activities where bad weather makes them only more fun. Out of desperation and with the concierge pulling some strings, the couple got their new reservation. In just three days, they met new friends, experienced events they only saw in the movies, and started an adventure-based travel program for couples.
The moral of the story is when stuff happens going with the flow and looking for the silver lining is the best strategy. Allow me to lend you a special pair of silver-lining-detection glasses. If you’re in a business that could benefit from delivering straight to customers and you haven’t done it yet, now is a good time to start since some customers might prefer to stay at home, be safe and follow up on the news. Maybe it’s time to consider expanding your customer base by selling to companies to diversify your income. There will always be a challenge in business. What matters is that you are focused on your goals while thinking of new ways to reach them and keeping an open mind for new journeys that might improve your business beyond your plans. Whenever things that may seem to be bad at first happen, remember Eric Idle’s song from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian: Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected] Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.