To Innovate, Resonate and Differentiate

October 23, 2014    |    Brad Holst

Recently, one of our clients, a cutting-edge company leading the charge in the next wave of IT innovation, invited me to speak at their global meeting in Europe. Also on the agenda were the eight finalists of an internal innovation competition.


Present your innovative idea in 5 minutes.

Each finalist would be given five minutes to present their winning idea to the 200 attendees at the meeting. Serious and impressive prizes were at stake. And, win or lose, every one of the eight finalists wanted to make a positive impression to boost their professional reputation and credibility within the company. 

Finalists felt a lot of pressure this year because at last year's event, most failed to achieve the impact they'd hoped for. Since I was already going to be attending, I offered to help finalists prepare for the big moment.


Success or failure happens in the first 2 minutes.

A few weeks in advance of the event, I hosted a web meeting for finalists and then provided onsite coaching the evening before the event. I focused all of my coaching on what the finalists would say and do during the first two minutes of their presentations.  Why?

The first two minutes are your moment of truth — when your audience must clearly understand what you're presenting, see the value in your idea for the organization and for themselves, and begin to trust in your credibility as the presenter. 

That's a tough enough task by itself, made more challenging by the fact that speakers tend to be the most nervous, and audiences the most critical, during the first two minutes of any presentation.


First, the problem must resonate.

If you want to sell your idea, you have to first sell your audience on the problem it solves. To do that, how you describe the problem has to strongly resonate with what your audience cares about most.  And, you have to avoid the trap of prematurely going into too much detail.  This should be more of a 3,000-meter view of the problem.


Then, the solution must differentiate.

You need to differentiate your idea by describing how it uniquely solves the problem you just presented. The solution, like the problem, has to hit on what your audience values most. Again, resist what can be a powerful urge to prematurely go into deep detail. Save it until later in the presentation.


It takes planning and practice.

Finally, to give your carefully planned content the delivery it deserves — the delivery that makes it easy for your audience to engage and trust — you must practice effectively. With the finalist presenters, I discussed how best to do this and had them practice with me.

Though I wasn't able to be there for the innovation presentations, I heard afterwards that they were a big success. The General Manager of the business unit commented on the marked improvement from the previous year and congratulated everyone on a job well done.


Do you know if your employees' best ideas are being heard?  Innovative ideas should ultimately live or die based on their value to your organization. Don't let the best ideas get lost in poor presentation.

Contact us to discuss how Mandel can help you put in place a developmental strategy that up-levels the essential skills of your employees, enabling them to better message, deliver, and defend their best ideas.