We have said it a lot before, and lately, it has become an all-too-familiar marketing catch phrase (and don't talk to us about the 2010 Chicago White Sox). The words "ALL IN" refer to gambling and putting all of your chips in the center of the table on one, big, risky gamble. Winner-take-all, so to speak. Leave nothing in the tank. The whole nine yards. How many more cliches do you want? Yes, it's a one-shot proposition, where you give it everything you have. The results are you win big or you lose big—nothing else.
We are consistently watching LARGE companies with real budgets and important events not take seriously the opportunity to give a presentation on ANY subject, internal or external. No matter how many times we remind them or insist on putting forth a complete, planned out effort, we are regularly disappointed with a lack of care or concern for live, critical corporate communication on a human level. We're not talking about print ads, websites, e-mail blasts, Twitter accounts, or even annual reports—which everyone seems to take fairly seriously—we're talking about someone standing in front of other people and talking about something they feel is important enough to gather together a group of busy humans.
You know what they say about first impressions—you never get a second chance, right? So why do so many people in important, influential positions in big companies drop the ball completely when it comes to giving a key presentation?
That's easy. They are stupid.
Harsh? Maybe, but really, if you have an opportunity in front of you that is a game-changer—something that can change the way your business runs, operates, or even change the mind-set of your company—and you fail to put in 100% effort, then you are stupid and deserve to crash and burn.
We can't stress this enough. You absolutely MUST prepare your presentation fully—development of the story, design of the visuals and practice the delivery—if you are even going to come close to successful communication. Tweaking the slides minutes before you go live or writing notes on 3x5 cards on the plane ride out to your keynote will NOT cut it. You are preparing to fail and doing your audience a massive disservice. Why waste their time if you are just going to wing it? Send them an e-mail with your 3x5 notes in it and be done with it. You're going to get the same results either way.
We just finished up a few rather large events complete with the requisite annual meeting corporate slide decks. A few very smart people planned out their attack months in advance, but most had speeches and slide decks that were afterthoughts. You could tell the difference visually, and in seconds of listening to them talk. It was completely obvious who was prepared and who crammed the night before.
Who do you think had the biggest impact on their audiences?