Every presentation should be like the first time, because it is for your audience.

I didn’t want to do another sales call. Ever. At least not with an insurance agent.

Keeping Repetitive Presentations Fresh
Follow these four tips to keep repetitive presentations fresh. Your audience will thank you.
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By August of 2006, I had done approximately 2,000 first-time sales calls with insurance agents. Every single one of them, it seemed, went the exact same way. After a thousand or so, I was going through the motions and not giving each call my best.

My performance began to suffer. In my first few hundred calls, it was rare that I did not close the deal. I now found myself doing virtually the exact opposite.

When I first started, I remembered every detail of every call. I remembered when I said this, when he said that. I remembered anything and everything about the agent; his family, his favorite sports teams, everything. By August 2006, I would hang up the phone and not even remember talking to a person.

Perhaps you have had a similar experience. The training seminar you’ve delivered twelve times in the past month alone. Or the book pitch you have made to thirty-two publishers. Or the quarterly report you have delivered for six different audiences in the past forty-eight hours. And now you have to do it all over again.

You practiced and practiced and the first time was great. So was the second. But by the third time and each repetition after that, the presentation began to lose some of its pizzazz.

Even peak performers go through this. Public speakers, CEOs, professional trainers, radio talk show hosts; all of them have to deliver the same presentations over and over again. The successful ones are those who do a great job of keeping it fresh.

Here are four tips to keep repetitive presentations fresh each time:

  1. Mix it up. It’s OK if you’re not perfect and it’s OK to change some things. Make sure you cover the most important points, but you don’t have to quote yourself verbatim each time. You’re not giving a word-for-word translation of the Bible here. 
  2. Make it current. One of the best ways to change it up is to inject some updated newsworthy events. In the insurance industry, things changed big time when the health insurance mandate passed Congress. That changes the sales presentation. If you are delivering a presentation on sexual harassment in the workplace, keep the statistics updated. Use a different news item on the subject periodically. Stay on the lookout for new, fresh pieces that you can use.
  3. communicationRecognize the advantages. You know your presentation down pat. You’re not going to forget anything major. So use that to your advantage.   You have tons of brain space available for other important things like looking at the audience, asking engaging questions, and listening really well.
  4. Speak positively about it. Words are so important. If you say, “I have to go give another training seminar to the new hires,” or “Another day, another boring sales call,” you will fail. It will be a boring sales call. You will coast through the training. Your performance will suffer as a consequence. Instead, remind yourself that the person on the other end of the phone is hearing your pitch for the first time. Remind yourself that the new hires are just that…new! Your vision statement is not boring to them. They are on cloud nine and you are about to welcome them to the company. Do it with open arms and a positive attitude! This may be their one and only time to hear what you have to say and they deserve your best effort. Read more about positive self-talk.

If you are tired of delivering the same presentation over and over again, remember these four tips to keep things fresh and keep your audiences engaged.

How do you keep repetitive presentations fresh?

6 thoughts on “Over and Over Again: A Guide to Keeping Repetitive Presentations Fresh

  1. Todd Liles says:

    This reminds me of what our Directors in Theatre would always say, “There is a reason why shows on Broadway have been running for over 10 years:
    1. They are amazingly written
    2. Acted
    3. Marketed
    4. It is the first time for the audience, even if it is your 50th time.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Excellent analogy. They do have to deliver the same performance over and over.

      And something that is unique is the emotion. Plays are powerful. Audiences are moved. Another thing presenters should keep in mind!

  2. Tom Dixon says:

    This reminds me of delivering SAP training at work…I had to travel the country to do it – and each time it was exactly the same…I could have (and probably still could) do it in my sleep. I like the suggestions, especially #4 – it is like saying I HAVE to go to church instead of I GET to go to church…all about framing it in a positive way.

  3. When I have to teach something over and over I like to use a lot of pair/group work. That keeps it fresh because the people are different. Plus I always learn something. I also spend a lot of time upfront with a group to see what they already know – so I don’t bore them with repeating information, then take them on the journey from what they know to what they don’t know – yet. I find people appreciate your respect for their knowledge and are more receptive to listen.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      This is a good one Lulu: I also spend a lot of time upfront with a group to see what they already know – so I don’t bore them with repeating information

      Especially in a small group of somewhat homogenous people (i.e. new hires, sales people, dog owners), that is very effective!

  4. Jon Stolpe says:

    I don’t have to do many repetitive presentations, but I appreciate the advice here. It’s so important for our audience to get the point, to catch the passion, and to go forward with action. We can easily miss out on these opportunities if we fail to bring it in all our presentations.

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