Recently, I was part of an audience for several product demos. This was part of a bidding process to select an enterprise solution for my company. A specific audience, with various calibers, expertise and interests were assembled from IT and business. There were finance managers and executives, procurement officers, project managers, business analysts and architects. They all gathered to see products walk-through from set of top players and domain experts in that enterprise solution field.

My team was good enough to set the expectations right for the presenter and his team. In fact, they provided a detailed showcase for them to follow to better demonstrate the product capabilities and address the bid functional, business and technical requirements; completely, smoothly and to the satisfaction of various interest groups.

What truly shocked me; after attending three out of six demos, is how incredibly weak, unprepared, and lost the presenters were. It is as if they were presenting for the first time in their professional career, or even, they have not seen their products before.

The three demos I have seen are for products by leaders of specific enterprise solutions in the world, and were delivered by their local middle eastern offices. These products are classified as leaders in Gartner and Forrester reports.

In every single book, management training course, or even orientation sessions by companies; presentation skills are, undoubtedly, underpinning pillar. You google the word, and you will find thousands and millions of articles, papers, and various materials on the importance of presentation skills, the importance of knowing your audience, the importance of rehearsal and preparation for the success of your presentation, your business opportunity, and even your job.

A presentation might fail… What a big deal! but, once you are in a bidding process, and you are leaving a quite horrible impression on the client, then, it is a big deal, and you are loosing business!

I always say; you will never get a second chance to make the first impression. What these three lousy presenters did is they simply ruined their products’ image in my team’s minds. It is evidently becoming hard to reexplain and sell the product to the business users anymore; even-though it looks fantastically well from IT and technical perspective.

It is simply like giving a bugatti L’Or Blanc car to a lousy a driver!

Before you step into a presentation; I suggest, you follow my SAPPER model:

  1. S: Know what exactly the Subject is you are supposed to present and talk about
  2. A: Know your Audience beforehand, their interests and what domains they represent
  3. P: Prepare the Presentation and the supporting material.
  4. PPresent the material to yourself, and in the venue to ensure all audio/video works well for you
  5. E: Engage peers or colleagues for feedback
  6. R: Rehearse… Rehearse… and Rehearse

… and remember, get the bugatti the driver it deserves!


Mouaz Al-Zayyat

Presentation Skills… Please!
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