Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Keanu Reeves gives great client presentations

The world is abuzz with excitement over Keanu Reeves’ upcoming performance as Klaatu in “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Although he’s busy on the movie’s media circuit, Keanu agreed to sit down with me and talk about his reflections on how to do a good client presentation.

MAX: So Keanu, this Friday B!G will be going to our client for a final presentation of the results from our marketing analysis. It’s mostly industry stuff and some technical details, but the gist of the presentations insights are focused on how the recommending short, medium, and long term opportunities for a sustainable marketing solution. How do you think we should present this?

KEANU: Well, what’s the client like? I mean, Max, you invite me to sit down with you and then you ask a really vague question that’s full of a lot of bullshit marketing terminology.

MAX: Ok, Ok…no need to be defensive. Our client is friendly and we have a good rapport with them. This is our second engagement with them and they have been receptive to our objective analysis in the past. A positive relationship overall.

KEANU: So they’re not defensive themselves?

MAX: No way.

KEANU: So then ask yourselves what information they’d like to see and make sure that its communicated through words, pictures, graphs, and graphics that they’ll understand. You said they’re friendly, right?

MAX: Yep.

KEANU: Ok, so make it a conversation. This way everyone is comfortable and B!G won’t be stressing out about the need to convince the client of the insights validity. Like, lay your cards on the table to start, and enjoy the time together. It should be natural.

MAX: Natural? How so?

KEANU: Well, I always found doing screen tests and auditions that if you’re going into it assuming that your audience will not be receptive to what you have to say then you inevitably screw up. But instead if you go into the performance believing in the truth and integrity of your message, you deliver it honestly and compellingly, and you make sure to connect with your audience as real people, not an immovable object, then you’ll generally succeed and get the part.

MAX: That’s great advice! So then we’ve got our message, we know our audience, but how are we going to deliver it in a compelling way?

KEANU: Tell a story. What’s the project about?

MAX: Wind energy in Canada.

KEANU: Gnarly. Ok, so explain the market, the key insights, the potential business plays, and the potential business strategy. But remember to link it together with some unifying theme….something like ‘growth’, or ‘innovation’, or ‘threats’. A common thread is a good thing to have in a presentation so the audience can link things together in their minds.

MAX: Cue cards?

KEANU: No way. It shows that you’re unprepared. How many months have you been doing this project?

MAX: Three months.

KEANU: Yeah, so there’s no reason why you and your groups’ members can’t just walk up and speak to the points on the slides. Remember, it’s not an announcement of information, it’s a conversation of information. Oh, and you should bring any supporting evidence or analysis along with you, but try to only cover the major points in the presentation. People get bored pretty quickly in these things so keep it simple.

MAX: What presentation style is best?

KEANU: Well everyone differs, right? I’m a method actor and I take my craft very seriously. Have you seen my oeuvre of work?

MAX: Your oeuvre?

KEANU: Yeah, my films. The Lake House, Sweet November, Dracula, and Johnny Mnemonic.

MAX: I think I’ve seen Dracula or Johnny Mnemonic, but The Matrix or Speed were my favourite films of yours.

KEANU: I hated those films. There was no room for my character to blossom and self-actualize.

MAX: I see….so then what type of presentation style is best?

KEANU: Again, everyone is different, but the big qualities are honest, comfort, and knowledgeability. If you can also be animated that’s good too. When you’re enthusiastic about the material, sometimes it helps to engage your audience so they are more receptive to the messages you’re speaking. The one piece of advice I really have for your group on Friday is to never appear like you yourself are not in support of what you’re saying. Always remember that you’re the expert on the presentation – you developed it, you did the research. If you can’t convince yourself of what you’re saying, then you’ll never convince the client.

MAX: Tubular advice Keanu, thanks for shooting the breeze and giving such awesome tips. The Day the Earth Stood Still opens December 12 and looks pretty cool. Check out the trailer.

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