Presentation Matters…Or does it?

A few years ago, I was visiting Pune with my family and so we decided to take a day trip to Lonavala. During the rains the small hillocks have tiny streams flowing down almost everywhere and the sight is exquisite. A little before Lonavala, we saw the Celebrity Wax Museum and decided to visit it.

As we saw the wax statues, I could not help comparing it with its inspiration Madame Tussad’s Museum, London. I had seen that for the first time when I was six and I was mesmerized. And honestly the wax statues here were not that bad but the experience was very different. The lighting, the gallery and of course the toilets were nowhere like that at Madame Tussad’s. They also charged a fraction of the charges of Madame Tussad’s.

It started me thinking….Was the difference product quality?

There might be a difference, but the statues in Lonavala were also life like. Check out the picture yourself.

(By the way, Anna’s statue adorns the Celebrity Wax Museum and Hrithik’s Madame Tussad’s.)

Then what was the difference?

I would like to think that PRESENTATION made a very great difference. This is not the only area where we see this phenomenon. Tea or Chai is available in many outlets. The tea vendor or chai-wallah serves a hot cup of tea for Rs 10/-. At a Barista or Café Coffee day, the same tea gets a fancier avatar and we gladly cough up Rs 120/- or so. And then when we go to Five Star hotel we gladly pay Rs 500/-or so.

Why is there such a dramatic price difference?

Some of it could be accounted for by the difference in ingredients, but I think for the most part the difference is in the “PRESENTATION”. As a child I was often told you do not go to a five star hotel for the food, you go for the ambience.

The bottom-line is “PRESENTATION MATTERS.”

This is a fact that many very competent people do not face up to.

I have had the good fortune of facilitating the development of many professionals. And one area that we get called upon a lot is #presentation skills. One particular client stands out in my mind. This organization manufactures electro-graphite. The market in India is duopolistic and the product is extremely complex and requires a lot of technical expertise and experience. The organization has some of the best people in India. So far, so good… However, our brief from the chairman was that he wanted his department heads to present like professionals from Ernst & Young. Hmm…now that is a nearly impossible task because the professionals at E&Y were selected on the basis of their superior presentation skill and have further obtained massive experience by presenting day in and day out.

Anyway, the developmental gap was so large that a Boeing could pass through it. The department heads stuttered, read the slides, stood with their backs to the audience and their structuring of content was also low. Their skill level was the same as a graduate engineer trainee but they had over 20 years of work experience.

Not only was their skill low, but their motivation to learn was also low. One of them said he didn’t believe in “hanky-panky”, euphemism for presentation techniques. The business imperative that as department heads they needed to interact with and present to foreign buyers did not provide the spur to learn how to improve skill. A classic case of: the ones who need it most are most resistant to learn.

The big question is what do you want to be? The chai at the tea stall, the tea at Barista or the tea at a five star hotel…
For learning how to improve your presentation skills read our blog

Contributed by: Lovely Kumar, Chief – Projects, Larks Learning

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