How to Make Your B2B Market Research Presentation TEDtastic

Sean Campbell
Authored bySean Campbell
Isa Gautschi
Authored byIsabel Gautschi

Like many people, I enjoy listening to and watching TED Talks, in large part due to TED presenters’ excellent storytelling skills.

B2B market research presentations tend to be a different animal than a typical TED Talk, but there are certainly some aspects of the style we can pull into a business setting.

How to Make Your B2B Market Research Presentation TEDtastic

TED Talks are a lot of fun to watch. What can market researchers take from the famous TED storytelling style to make their business presentations more engaging?

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The difference between your average keynote and a typical business presentation is best illustrated by a quote from Dave McKinsey, who authored the book Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations. He wrote:

“The truth is that most presentations are delivered at work in seemingly low-stake situations. In the hallway, in one-on-one discussions, and in small group meetings. They’re most of the time likely rehearsed, two-way, fact-laden and delivered while sitting down to a very familiar audience. In short, they’re precisely the opposite of key-note speeches.”

I think Dave could have gone on to say they’re precisely the opposite of your average conference speech or TED Talk.

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Delivery Differences-Where, When and How

This is even true of most of the presentations we at Cascade Insights give as a company. In that, we’re rarely delivering the results of our research in an auditorium.

Rather, we present via WebX, GoToMeeting, Lync or some other webinar tool since the stakeholders for our research are rarely in the same physical room as us.  In addition, the stakeholders themselves are unlikely to be in the same geographic area as well.  As one stakeholder may be working out of New York, another out of Silicon Valley, and another out of Singapore.  Yet, they are all joining for the readout presentation.

Also, market research teams, especially those in a corporate environment, simply don’t have a lot of time to rehearse their presentations.

Whereas TED presenters have probably practiced and delivered their speeches scores of times, a B2B market researcher may have only received the final version of the deck the night before their talk.

So, while the slides are tweaked, the graphics are tuned and the story is checked for accuracy, but it’s very rare that a market researcher has the time to do even one dry run of their presentation.

For example, when was the last time you stood up in your office, locked the door and gave a solo rendition of your entire 60-minute presentation out loud to yourself before delivering it?

I would bet that it is a pretty uncommon scenario.

Another key difference is that B2B market research teams can’t focus on emotion as the primary foundation of their speech.

Whereas a TED Talk or keynote address may give you a 23-minute sitcom arc full of laughs and tears, B2B market researchers have to let the facts ring out, and build a story that surrounds those facts – but doesn’t suffocate them.

Which means, we need to find a way to take all these techniques from the TED Talk folks and translate them into a B2B market research setting.

To do that we’re going to a few tips from the book, TED Talks: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks by Akash Karia and then see how we might apply these same tips to B2B Market Research presentations.

Start With A Story

Karia tells us that an excellent speakers is a “master storyteller.”

You may wonder if that is a realistic goal for your average market research presentation. It is.

For example, when you give a market research presentation, instead of starting with the methodology or the purpose of the study, you could start with:

  • An example of a customer that has been won or lost.
  • A description of how a competitor has been successful.
  • A challenge the product development team has come across when building a product.

Conflict is a Winning Strategy

Karia reminds that a TED presentation needs to be gripping.

Of course, it is easier to give an exciting speech when you’re talking about curing diseases, fixing the education system, cyber-bullying, or other topics you might hear in a TED Talk.

But a business oriented market research presentation can still be gripping.

How? Conflict.

As long as the end of the story is uncertain, people will continue to ask, “what happens next?”

As long as the end of the story is uncertain, people will continue to ask, “what happens next?”

You see this tactic all the time in the best TED Talks and conference keynotes.

One of the easiest ways to translate this method into a business context is to talk about a competitive dynamic in your market.

Most research studies have at least an undercurrent of a competitive dynamic, so you shouldn’t have to search too hard for one.

For example, think about how often people talk about Microsoft vs. someone else, or Apple vs. the rest of the market. How many articles have been written about clashing tech giants and startups?

Look at the headlines in the trade press. They’re designed to highlight this conflict to get your attention and then draw you into the meat of the story.

In presentations, you should do the same. Highlight the conflict; don’t run from it.

When market research presenters fail to address conflict, their findings boil down to a bland soup of maybes and toothless possibilities. That is true regardless of how pretty you make your maybes and possibilities with charts and graphs.

That’s no way to keep an audience’s attention.

Find a quote that packs a punch, then pull back and land it.

Karia also emphasizes the importance of having a unique story.

He goes on to say that the story should be personal since personal stories obviously haven’t already been heard.

Qualitative researchers can do this by highlighting a specific standout quote and spending real time on it.

You’re looking for a quote that packs a punch.

To start with, you’re looking for a quote that packs a punch.  Then make sure it’s representative of the research outcome as a whole.

And then simply spend time on that single quote.  Make it stand out a single slide.  Then provide the full context behind that quote.

In your presentation, you can (and should) provide specific details:

  • Lay out who the individual was before you get to talking about what they said.
  • Highlight the company they work for, the role they fill, or the industry that they work in.
  • Explain how this role, company or industry is or will be effected by the matter being studied.

Think about how often stakeholders have asked “Who said that?” as you present your research findings. Give the people what they want.

Don’t Just Tell Them, Put Them In The Scene

Karia advises using dialogue rather than narration and the book covers a few different examples of each approach.

I’ve taken the core idea Karia discusses in the book and turned into more of a B2B story below.

Here is an example of narration:

The CRM system generated an exceptional report that the whole company could use.

Here is an example of dialogue:

As they looked at the report the CRM system had generated, Mary turned to her colleague and said, “That is an exceptional piece of reporting. We can use that to drive more sales.”

In short, dialogue helps to personalize what your research means for the stakeholders.

Plus, given how quote-heavy your average qualitative market research piece is, using dialogue is something you absolutely should be doing.

In closing, the next time you give a market research presentation use one of these tips, you’ll be glad you did.

This podcast is brought to you by Cascade Insights. Cascade Insights specializes in market research and competitive intelligence for B2B technology companies. Our specialization allows us to deliver detailed insights that generalist firms simply can’t match. For more information on B2B market research, visit “What is B2B Market Research?“.

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