Why & How Extreme Presentation Works

My friend, Professor Andrew Abela at Catholic University recently published The Presentation: A Story About Communicating Successfully With Very Few Slides,  which provides a case study example of executing the Extreme Presentation methods he details in his first book, Advanced Presentations Design: Creating Communication That Drives Action. His one-day workshop in 2006 was the best I’ve ever attended at a SCIP annual conference, so in the spirit of cooperative intelligence here are some highlights.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “That was a great presentation: could you have used more slides?” Of course not! Most people use slides to help themselves remember the material they are presenting, but they are not usually created to help you the audience understand the material or be convinced of what the presenter might be selling. This is a blind spot of many presenters and missed opportunity to sell an idea, close the sale or persuade someone or a group to take action! All these slides do is put most viewers into the passive viewing mode, which isn’t usually what you want!

The book focuses on Conference Room style presentation–that is the art of presenting persuasively to small groups. The objective of this venue is often to persuade a small group or a key individual to do or to agree to a specific thing.

To get started think, “What do you want your audience to do as a result of what you’ll be presenting to them?” Next: “Where is your audience right now?” So: “What evidence do you need to provide to your audience to get them to where you want them to be? This is the core of why Extreme Presentation works. You know at the outset where you want this presentation to end: what decision you want your audience to make. You present to your audience using persuasive, calculated steps to get to your endpoint.

Clearly identify what problem your audience has that your presentation will help solve. Research tells us that storytelling works since it’s causal information, not just mere facts, that makes your story more credible. Provide a compelling story about how this problem has been solved or can be solved. Find one or two stories to drive home your most important points.

Here is an example of how Extreme Presentation works with small audiences:

Situation: Most presentations don’t convince the audience and aren’t actionable

Complications: The presentation is agenda oriented, not objective oriented. There are too many slides which don’t encourage audience participation or engagement.

Resolution: 1 – 2 pages tell your story as a handout using your audience’s language + visual process “squint test”. Research shows that people need the right amount of detail and no distractions (no clip art) to promote the healthy discussion that is required to make decisions.

Example: This format encourages your audience to listen, absorb and engage, and leads them to make a decision, which is what you want! This method has been pilot tested extensively for at least 5 years by some big name companies such as ExxonMobil, Kimberly-Clark, Microsoft, eBay, Motorola, Xerox, WW Grainger and HJ Heinz to name a few!

The “squint test” initially confuses people, but it’s valuable for you to give the audience a shape which indicates the content of what you’ll cover such as a bar chart, process chart, organization chart, since you provide a handouts. Here are some templates to help you pass the squint test:

Extreme Presentation website www.ExtremePresentation.com/books/pres; SmartArt in PowerPoint and PowerFrameworks http://www.powerframeworks.com for thousands of templates.

I always like an example of what people are trying to communicate: below is the link to a 1 page handout which visually depicts what I just wrote about. I applaud Dr. Abela! The only thing I would have done differently is rename “extreme presentation”, “persuasive presentation,” since that’s really what it is: PERSUASIVE communication!

Persuasive Presentation Works

Competitive Intelligence: Remain Ethical & Avoid Deception

Last month I was interviewed by Adam Sutton of MarketingSherpa, and in the spirit of cooperative intelligence I am going into detail on each of the 5 tactics we discussed to improve competitive intelligence collection. This week I cover the last tactic. For the full article you need to subscribe to MarketingSherpa.

Tactic #5: Remain ethical and avoid deception

Make sure anyone you use to collect information is operating under the same ethical standards as held by your company. If you need help figuring out what your ethical standard should be, check out the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professional’s (SCIP’s) website for its code of ethics.  Most associations have a code of ethics and often your industry or your company will have ethical guidelines. I also like the Association of Independent Information Professional’s (AIIP’s) code of ethics.

As a consultant I am sensitive to the topic of ethics since there is such a variance among my clients. Some industries are more conservative than others. Countries have very different ethical standards. Some clients have the attitude of “Just get the information for us, I don’t care how!” Others go as far as to have me sign on to their company ethical standards.

Don’t expect consultants to be unethical to collect for your company. You wouldn’t ask your employees to be unethical, and consultants when working for you are an extension of your company. It just isn’t worth your reputation to be unethical, and it doesn’t feel good to me to be asked to unethical. I have had companies ask me to attend trade shows and sign up as the employee of a large company. That’s unethical and also unnecessary. People will talk and share at trade shows even if you are a direct competitor. Of course, they’ll share even more with a trained collection consultant who is not a competitor.

More companies have written ethics statements these days, although I don’t find that companies are any more ethical today than they were 25 years ago when I started in this field. I find that having an honest discussion around ethics at the proposal stage is helpful so I can decide if my ethics and the company’s are similar. I find that each case is a little different, and you need to arrive at what feels right with each customer and each collection project, but that having ethical guidelines is helpful. Ultimately it’s your conscience that will guide your behavior and ethics is part of that.

BTW, SCIP’s Competitive Intelligence Foundation published a book on ethics Navigating the Gray Zone which will give you a lot of tippers around ethical behavior and how companies have developed ethics policies over the years. Here is a short article I wrote on ethics, Ethics: The Cooperative Angle.

5 Tactics to Research Your Marketplace using Competitive Intelligence Skills

Recently I was interviewed by Adam Sutton of MarketingSherpa, and in the spirit of cooperative intelligence I am sharing some highlights. For the full article you need to subscribe to MarketingSherpa. Check out MarketingSherpa’s free trial. It is chock full of marketing information, studies, white papers and current articles like this one. I will summarize each of the five tactics, and then blog on each of them individually this month.

Tactic #1 Conduct win loss analysis
Interview new customers and prospects you lost to the competition. Your goal is to uncover the motivations behind their decisions and to learn whatever great information they impart to help improve product development, tweak your existing products or service, change your marketing message, learn how your competitors are successfully unseating you and so much more.

I recommend you conduct these interviews in cooperation with your sales force, rather than behind their back. Building trust with Sales is the biggest reason to include them as part of the win loss analysis process. Sales can save you so much time by telling you how the people you’re going to interview are motivated to share. Wow, that reason alone is enough to work with Sales.

Tactic#2 Talk to internal and external experts
Use a cooperative approach when connecting with internal and external experts. People inside your company tend to know a lot about your industry and can connect you with external contacts who might be helpful. Be sure to thank your experts and send them information you come across that they might find helpful. This two way communication and connection is invaluable to your knowledge pool.

Tactic #3 Use trade shows as fact-finding missions
Trades shows are the biggest Meccas for competitive intelligence. No where are there more people who want to share their knowledge and insight with you: industry experts, prospects, competitors and journalists.

Do your homework: Prepare a game plan before the conference. Study the exhibitor floor plan and all the presentations and decide how best to use your time and write out the questions you will ask to the various audiences.  Keep the plan rough as you’ll need to be flexible since you’ll need to jump on opportunities as they arise, which you can’t predict.

Be observant. Most people think about gathering competitive intelligence from competitor’s exhibit areas and formal presentations, but sometimes the best intelligence is gathered at informal settings such as the conference coffee shops, the conference hotel cafe, the elevator, cocktail parties, the bus ride to the airport, even in the airplane.

Tactic #4 Build an information database
Build a database for all the information you have on the competition and the marketplace that can easily be browsed and that is easily kept up-to-date. Also build a database of contacts both internal and external to your company who are great sources of information about your industry, the marketplace, the competition…and make this sortable as well! This quick access to contacts and information greatly speeds up your research timeline!

Tactic #5 Remain ethical and avoid deception
Make sure anyone you use to collect information is operating under the same ethical standards as held by your company. Check out SCIP’s website for its code of ethics.

Remember I will provide more detail about each of these 5 tactics in future blogs.

SCIP 2010 Meskerem: A Mopping Good Time

Following the first full day at the SCIP 2010 Conference, a large group of us competitive intelligence managers enjoyed an Ethiopian dinner at Meskerem which was organized through our Intelligence Collaborative group. For the uninitiated, you mop up your food by wrapping the spongy bread around the food you want to eat. So the bread replaces all eating utensils. So no worries about bad manners. We were all eating Neanderthals! My favorite foods are the vegetables, although I seemed to eat everything that was put in front of me: chicken, lamb and egg. It’s communal dining at its finest as our large plate was shared by 4 of us, and we each had our own piece of flatbread for mopping!

Lest you think we’re a stuffy bunch check this out. 14 of us firmly RSVP’ed at the Intelligence Collaborative event site, so I figured 25 would be about right…and we had 37 diners! This is very #intelcollab, as we don’t want too much structure lest we be mistaken for anything that resembles bureaucracy! In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, here are some of the cool people that were there!

I sat with my new friends from Tokyo, most notably Masaaki Hasegawa who has been a SCIP member since 2001! His colleague, Yoshihito knew one of my best friends, Masa Asai, Professor Emeritus from Nihon University’s psychology department. The world continues to shrink: Nihon University is Japan’s largest and the odds of these men knowing each other is pretty remote! This story reminds me how you always keep reaching and stretching in life since you never know the connections you will make!



Here is a picture of August Jackson who is our leader at SCIP 2010! He also recommended the Meskerem, right on August!

August Jackson

Below is Max Nelson and a lovely lady, whose name I forget!

Max and friend

So we wound up our dinner and some of us headed over to the Bossa Bistrot & Lounge as recommended by Eric Garland. I was asking Arik Johnson where Eric was hiding out as he was nowhere to be seen at our table. Unbeknown to me, he was the lead guitarist in the band! Way to go Eric!

Eric at play!

So tonight there are more festivities related to our SCIP Conference. I’ll be joining the Fellows in welcoming our 2010 Award winners: Martha Matteo, Jonathan Calof and David Gibson over dinner at Café Paradiso. There will also be a fun party at the Marriott Wardman Park in DC hosted by Aurora WDC which celebrates its 15th birthday and the promotions of its key officers, Derek Johnson as CEO and Arik Johnson as Chairman. Congratulations guys!

Assess Your Effectiveness at Trade Shows

In honor of my competitive intelligence colleague, Jonathan Calof, I am writing this post on his subject of expertise, trade shows! Jonathon just won SCIP’s esteemed Fellow’s award which will be officially presented at SCIP’s annual conference in Washington, DC which takes place from March 9 – 12. Trade shows are one of the best venues for cooperative intelligence practices since if you display cooperative connection and communication skills, the floodgates of knowledge will be yours!

Most discussion around trade show analysis measures their effectiveness in ROI terms:
How many sales did we close as a result of connections at our booth? How many new connections did we make that represent customer prospects?

Many of the other benefits are more squishy to measure:

How much scoop did we collect on the competition, market trends, technical innovation, product development, or new technology that helps us develop a better strategy or adjust our sales tactics?

What infrastructure do we have in place to quickly report our findings to those in our company which might engender further collect during the trade show? And after we return from the trade show?

What infrastructure do we have in place to qualify prospects for our business?
This can start right at the booth as you can qualify the better prospects and have coffee or drinks later, since you don’t want to spill all your company secrets right at the booth area since you never know who might be listening in who is not a prospect, but might be collecting on your company!

I like to prepare a cheat sheet which helps me qualify customers when I exhibit. It’s kind of cumbersome, but it is fail proof since people’s answers to these questions guide me on how and if we should further our relationship.  Remember customers aren’t the only great connections at trade shows. For example, industry experts, newspaper reporters and bloggers help sell your company too. They have their biases just like anyone else, and you want to influence them to favor your company and your products and services so they write good things about you. Think: who else do I want to connect at this trade show mecca where people are so pre-disposed to share what they know?

Lastly, I assess if this was even the right show for the company to exhibit at. Many companies don’t think about this as much.  We tend to exhibit at shows since, “We’ve always had a booth at ‘X’ show.” Each year I like to assess our effectiveness at trade shows we’ve attended. Sometimes I use an ROI calculation. Sometimes I realize I can’t afford not to be at a trade show since all my competition is there connecting with a finite number of potential and existing customers. At other shows, product announcements are made: can you afford not to attend this type of show and blow your horn? Where it gets gray in decision-making is when results are gradually getting worse: do you just pull out of the show or do you change your behavior and tactics in hopes of improving your results? Marketing through social networks is also competing with in-person events like trade shows, which could be the subject for another day.

How do you assess your effectiveness at trade shows?

Improve Your ROI by Integrating Marketing & Sales Intelligence


I (Ellen Naylor) will be giving a 2 hour session at the American Marketing Association’s Spring Marketing Workshop which takes place in Denver, Colorado from March 22 – 25 at the Westin Tabor Center. My talk, “Improve Your ROI by Integrating Marketing & Sales” will be given on March 23 from 2:45 – 4:45 pm, about a week before my birthday.

The Marketing Workshop allows attendees to mix and match sessions according to the following topics:

• Marketing ROI
• Pricing Strategy and Tactics
• Social Media and Marketing
• Branding
• Sales and Marketing Integration
• Customer Loyalty and Relationship Management
• Search Engine Optimization

Below is the write up which is buried in the AMA’s 20 page marketing workshop e-booklet.

Sales and marketing are often at odds. This workshop will focus on tools and techniques that are tried and tested, which integrate the smarts of sales, marketing and product development employees. Elicitation is usually used to collect competitive intelligence. Learn what elicitation is and how it can be used to improve your company’s sales intelligence by closing more deals and enabling Sales to collect valuable information from customers to boost your company’s knowledge about market trends, customer needs and the competition to name a few. Likewise, learn how win loss analysis and trade show analysis integrate sales and marketing often with the voice of the customer and other market intelligence.

You will learn:

Elicitation: what it is and why it’s a more effective means to collect information than direct questioning for interviews
Close more sales deals and collect valuable customer insight through the practice of elicitation
Implement a cooperative win loss analysis process that integrates feedback from sales, marketing and your customers
Improve both your sales lead generation and collection skills at trade shows

Matt Kelly, VP Business Development at Strategy Software will be presenting, “Competitive Affairs: Leveraging Competitor Information to Drive Revenue and Increase Market Share. His session takes place on March 24 from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Matt is an engaging speaker who I have known for years through SCIP.

I wanted to share this is the spirit of cooperative intelligence as it is pretty rare for the AMA to host events in Denver. March is also a great month to visit the Rocky Mountains if you like to ski as it’s our snowiest month.

SCIP Denver/Rocky Mtn Chapter Meeting Feb 19 2010

In the spirit of cooperative intelligence I want to share the news about our SCIP Denver Rocky Mountain Meeting which takes place tomorrow.

I also want to thank Lynnette Woolery our Chairperson who has been leading our chapter for more than 5 years! She has worked in competitive intelligence for US West, Qwest, Ericsson and Xcel Energy. Now she heads Xcel Energy’s product development for alternative energy. Thank you Lynnette!

In a similar vein, thank you Tom Seward and Richard Caldwell for taking the reins to run our chapter now! I look forward to the programs that you’ll develop!

Here is the logistics for the meeting and Tom and Richard’s biographies.

Theme: Network & Discuss What Members Want from SCIP Meetings
Friday, February 19, 2010    11:30AM – 1:30PM
Qwest Building 1801 California Street
Conference Room 3, 13th Floor Denver, CO  80202

Tom Seward has over nine years of professional law library experience and over 15 years of research experience.  During this time he earned an MLIS from the University of Denver and a Paralegal Certificate from George Washington University.  In the last few years he has formally started focusing on competitive intelligence work, primarily in the service industries.  He works at Ballard Spahr, LLP.

Richard Caldwell is a 23-year Air Force Veteran.  His primary career field was Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance or C4ISR.  He currently works at Northrop Grumman working Competitive Intelligence for the Department of Defense customer set and doing market analysis for specific locations.  Rich has many ideas on how to grow our chapter via such things as a better use of networking tools and reaching out to local colleges and universities.

Registration Fees: (Box Lunch, Presentation and Networking Included)
SCIP Members:  $10.00
Non-Members:  $15.00


I regret that I won’t be there since I am still in Washington, DC, in the land of much snow! I wholeheartedly endorse our new leadership!

Competitive Intelligence Case Study Initiative

In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, I would like to share a competitive intelligence case study initiative that my colleague Tom Hawes is leading.

He saw a need for more sharing in the field of competitive intelligence. In many cases people don’t share since well it’s the competition after all, who might be reading or listening to what I share. So he decided to create case studies for people to comment on. The first example is a story in a competitive intelligence manager’s life where he has to organize and prepare a presentation for his executive management about how a competing company is ramping up its R&D initiative. The story goes on for six days and takes a person from getting the assignment, doing a needs analysis, getting the information, making the final presentation, and dealing with people issues and communication.

The idea behind the case study format is to draw people out of their shells to discuss how they would approach the issues that this CI manager faces. It is thought that people will more readily share what they know and how they do competitive intelligence, if we’re talking about a hypothetical situation rather than their company’s particular issues.

Tom has gone to a lot of trouble to professionalize this case study approach by even creating a website for these cases. Tom is also creating additional cases to draw people in. I agreed to comment on the 6-day case study, and am offering a cooperative intelligence perspective to my comments. Arik Johnson and August Jackson are also offering their comments for the 6-day case study.

There are three ways you can contribute to this initiative to improve communication among competitive intelligence folks:

Read and respond to the case studies and commentaries that are posted. Volunteer to write a case study. Volunteer to be an expert commentator and share your problem-solving ideas.

PS If you’re a SCIP member, look for these case studies in the next 3 Competitive Intelligence Magazines!

Introduction to Competitive Intelligence

At a recent Denver joint SCIP and APMP chapter meeting, I was asked to put together some introductory slides about competitive intelligence to set the stage for the more sophisticated discussion around “Price to Win,” which is sophisticated analysis around bids/outcomes for major contracts, usually with huge government customers.

As I assembled my slides, I realized that very little has changed in the competitive intelligence (CI) process, while the execution of the collection phase of competitive intelligence has changed remarkably over the 20+ years I have been in the business with the advent of the Internet in all its iterations, e-mail, text messaging and more recently through social networks.  This also affects counterintelligence, since it is easier for your competitors—or anyone who is interested enough—to dig up information about your company that you consider proprietary. This information comes not only through electronic means, but through ex-employees, especially from all the downsizing in the last couple of years.

One common misconception is that competitive intelligence just focuses on the competition. Make no mistake competition is part of this: but you also want to take into account all the factors that affect the competitive marketplace such as economic conditions like the current unstable economy. In the US, the stock market has staged a quick recovery although the NYSE is still 4000 points below its peak in 2007. When you consider the stock market’s quick ascent after such a steady descent, you have to wonder how sustainable it is and how this will affect your customers, suppliers and competitors. Politics can affect the competitive marketplace. Were I in the US healthcare business, I would study all the ramifications of the proposed healthcare reform, and would conduct scenario planning exercises to prepare my company for change.

Here are 10 points to consider whether you’re starting or leading an established CI operation regardless of how you’re organized or what country you work in. These points are timeless: I put this list together in the early 1990s. While technology impacts our lives far more than it did then, human nature has not changed, and that’s what’s behind these steps.

1. Identify primary users
2. Focus on critical users’ needs
3. Fashion products to meet users’ needs
4. Be mindful of the company culture
5. Identify & build on infrastructure that supports CI
6. Organize & expand your people network constantly
7. Promote communication
8. Don’t implement automation before people
9. Checkpoint performance always
10. Stay focused

I didn’t include cooperative intelligence when I started my CI career since I was too focused on learning how to do competitive intelligence. Cooperative Intelligence focuses on good communication, solid connections, and being respected as a leader by providing good knowledge and insightful work. CI is more of a back office function: CEOs don’t look to hire people in their c-suite with CI experience. However, many areas within a company do rely on good competitive intelligence–which if communicated well and in a timely fashion–does lead people to respect the CI manager. You can be the greatest executor of competitive intelligence, but if you can’t communicate relevant information and analysis to the right people at the right time, it really doesn’t matter. This is the core of cooperative intelligence in the context of competitive intelligence—being so connected with your internal customers, that you know what to provide when—and get feedback from them, so you stay on target.

Meet August Jackson, Competitive Intelligence Podcast King!

AugustJacksonI first met August Jackson several years ago when he was leading the Washington, DC SCIP chapter. Since then he has taken the program lead for SCIP annual conferences, a monumental task, and is one of the profession’s leading edge users of social media, which he openly shares. I was honored earlier this month when he interviewed me for a podcast on cooperative intelligence. I shared a lot of examples from my experience in sales, and relationship building to create a competitive intelligence process at Bell Atlantic, now part of Verizon. The first 20 minutes is all about how I got into the field of competitive intelligence since I wanted to win more deals as a sales person. The cooperative intelligence discussion starts after that, and consumes most of the rest of the podcast—the last 40 minutes. The right people connections and effective communication are what separate best in class competitive intelligence operations from the rest that rely too heavily on digital monitoring in its many forms and are less sensitive as to how people want to be communicated with.

As August was interviewing me I had the feeling that he had done a lot of podcasts! Check out his podcast postings which go back to 2005. I’ve selected some of my favorites, but there are more!

CI 2020 with Arik Johnson (2009)
Eric Garland the Futurist (2009)
Suki Fuller on Social Networking (2009)
Adrian Alvarez on CI in Latin America (2006)
Alessandro Comai: Mapping & Anticipating the Competitive Landscape (2007)
Roger Phelps on LinkedIn (the podcast) (2007)
Ben Gilad on Strategic Early Warning and Blindspots, & David Hartmann on Proactive Asymmetric Strategy (the podcast) (2006)

You can read August’s blog.  He shared a nice slide deck on competitive analysis in his blog on Sept 17th, from his lecture at Johns Hopkins.

August is a Senior Consultant and specialist in competitive market intelligence and analysis at Verizon Business. His area of expertise is emerging IT and communication (ICT) technologies and their impact on business. Working in the private sector as a competitive intelligence manager with British Telecommunications, AT&T and MCI, he created competitive intelligence materials to support executive scenario planning, to turn insights from sales cycles into priorities and recommendations for operational and product development; maintained industry, technology and competitor profiles for diverse audiences.

August has provided technology trend analysis which guided major strategic decisions, and has developed profiles and delivered training globally. He is also recognized as an expert in the application of advanced secondary research methods including social media in competitive intelligence practice. Just look at his podcast collection and download most of them here!

August holds an Executive MBA from the University of Maryland’s Robert H Smith’s School of Business and earned a BA Cum Laude from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. August can be reached at jackson.august at gmail.com.

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