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/"Ducks" in business presentations

"Ducks" in business presentations

Meaningless allegories are enemies of a good presentation.

Did you ever happen to see cute little ducks leisurely swimming across the water in a TV newscast? And swimming for a good half a minute, which is infinitely long for this genre. In 99 cases out of a hundred it means that the author of the story has nothing to say to the point. The author got carried away with the beauty.

Now let us have a look at a real life multi-media annual report. Symphonic music is playing in the background and we hear a voiceover saying that good teamwork is the basis for a symphonic orchestra's success. This is an introduction. It lasts about a minute and contains the "image component". The authors are satisfied. And actually, it is very good when a company operates like a harmonious orchestra - the trombone is played when it is needed and the timbale sounds just on time.

But who in the audience will really believe that the symphonic music played in the background and the director's words truly prove (or at least demonstrate) that the company functions as an integrated mechanism? No one.

What is the point in that comparison? There is none. Why was it used then? For beauty's sake. Just like those ducks in the informational program. For beauty and self-admiration.

What is to be done then? What about creativity? This is what should be done. Creativity simply needs to side with the consumer of information. It should make the information interesting, clear and exciting for this particular consumer.

Positive example

Let us assume that a customer's company operates according to the "hub and spoke" pattern (where "hubs" are distribution centers, and "spokes" are channels of delivery to consumers). We are sure that this information is relevant and information consumers need to remember it. So show them the oldest wheel on Earth (this is interesting by its own right), and tell them that you are not reinventing the wheel, just leveraging the invention that is about 6000 year old. And afterwards you need to use computer graphics to demonstrate the real geography of distribution channels.

Was the image (the relic wheel) shown to the point? - Yes.

Does it disclose the very essence of the information? - Yes.

Was it done in an interesting way? - Yes.

Was it concise? - Yes.

Will the viewer remember the message we wanted to get across? - Certainly.

These five questions need to be asked every time creativity starts boiling over. You need to find out whether allegories are used for the viewers' benefit or merely to please the author.

… And back to the television newscast, we see a story informing us of the oncoming of spring and return of migratory ducks. The program stars the headline characters. Let us ask our five questions in relation to this newscast. All questions are answered positively. That means we stumbled across the one case out of hundred.

A group of archeologists unearthed in Slovenia the oldest wheel on Earth.

The experts assume that the wheel found in the course of diggings can be between 5100 and 5350 old. Thus, it is at ;least 100 years older than the wheels found in Switzerland and Germany and previously believed to be the oldest.
The wheel is made of ash-tree wood and oak wood, its radius reaches 70 centimeters, and its width is 5 centimeters.
It was found buried beneath an ancient settlement near Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

"The wheel is surprisingly advanced in terms of technology of its time - says Slovenian archeologist Anton Veluchek, fellow of the Archeological Institute of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. - It is much more sophisticated than much later models found in Switzerland and Germany".



You know, an orchestra can also be used for a purpose. A symphonic orchestra is an example of practically military-type subordination, rigidly documented instructions and, by the way, a very difficult career path. It is a story which is interesting to tell and interesting to listen to. Did your company select the symphonic management model? Excellent, so describe how an orchestra operates and say that in your company everything functions in exactly the same manner.

Whereas a jazz orchestra is quite the opposite, here freedom reigns supreme, improvisation is honored, conductors are not particularly looked up to (and they are called differently - not a conductor, but a leader). That's an example of yet another management model.

An allegory is a good thing, if it goes to the crux of the matter.

Andrey Skvortsov
CEO, Mercator group

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