Spend a few days in Atlanta, Georgia, in May 2020 to join your colleagues for a powerful circular economy event including inspirational talks, breakout sessions, networking opportunities and a showcase highlighting solutions. Throughout this conference, attendees with gain insights to help them turn circular economy ideas into profitable opportunities.
Enjoy this post from the SSC Archives.
Your sustainability strategy may be off the charts good and your pitch deck summary may connect all of the dots, but whether you’re in front of the decision-makers, on the phone, or delivering a webinar, you should take a look at these 16 ways to improve your presentation skills for maximum effect.
Of course, each presentation may require emphasis on different techniques and elements to connect with your audience, here are four standard ideas you should always embrace:
1. Provide a takeaway – The audience of each presentation should walk away feeling that the information was designed for them. Pitching to mid-level managers about how to motivate employees will look and feel much different than selling a program to executives. If this means you need to deliver more presentations to smaller audiences, do it. The effect on behavior, and program impact, will be well worth the time.
2. Don’t wait to answer questions – It’s become standard to say, “We will get to your questions at the end of the presentation,” but don’t do that. Practice skipping around and you’ll be able to quickly address a question and jump right back in. This will make the presentation feel more like a conversation, as well as demonstrate that you know your stuff.
3. Always provide a solution – If you’re a consultant, you’re actually delivering a sales pitch, right? But don’t let your audience know you’re trying to sell them. Instead, frame your service offerings on how buying into what you have to say will benefit the client’s business. If you’re a sustainability manager, you’re still trying to sell your ideas, but still use that “business first” framework to demonstrate how your program aligns with larger company goals.
4. Don’t go data heavy – Sustainability is all about data, but presentations that are too heavy on data will kill whatever persuasive elements you’ve got going on. Even if the presentation itself is about the results of the sustainability reporting or LCA reporting process (i.e. a review of data), keep the slides simple, the data relevant and understandable, and provide a written supplement to audience members. By focusing on interpreting the crucial data points, delivering solutions-based or action-based analysis, the data will come to life.
5. Don’t run long – Really, just don’t. If you’ve scheduled an hour meeting, plan for 40 minutes of presentation time. You never know who is running late, who might have a question, or what discussion may result at the end of your time in the spotlight. Really tighten up the time.
By running short, providing a takeaway, being responsive, offering solutions, and delivering interesting content, your presentations will become one of your best assets for moving the bar forward.
While green products and choices seem to be all the rage, are they really taking off as much as we think? You may think that millennials are all in on going green and that it’s a great time to launch sustainable products, but despite what people say it doesn’t seem that they are following through. Statistics about sustainable purchasing are not great — people act like they are invested in sustainable products, but don’t often don’t follow through with buying them.
Learning how to narrow the gap between intention and action is not only necessary for businesses to meet their corporate sustainability goals, but also to help the planet, which is considerably more important. This doesn’t just come down to encouraging people to purchase sustainable products, but also to change the way we use our resources such as conserving water or energy or properly utilizing recycling options.
So what are the next steps when it comes to encouraging a better correlation between what people think they want and action? The Harvard Business Review recently identified five actions that companies should consider in order to improve client buy-in which included using social influence and shaping good habits.
Social influence seems to be a huge factor in inspiring people’s green choices. Research has shown that telling online shoppers that other people were buying eco-friendly products led to a 65% increase in their making at least one sustainable purchase. Similarly, telling buffet diners that it was normal to not take tons of food on their first visit to the buffet (and that it was okay to have a second helping if they wanted) decreased food waste by 20.5%. Another study found that a major factor of whether people install solar panels is whether their close neighbors have done so. And, in perhaps the most dramatic finding, telling university students that other commuters were ditching their cars in favor of more-sustainable modes of transportation (such as cycling) led them to use sustainable transport five times as often as did those who were simply given information about alternatives.
It’s vital to find ways to encourage everyone in the community about that these environmentally friendly efforts are taking off without alienating those who may be less inclined to buy in (research has shown this tends to be those on the republican side of the political spectrum). In fact, this audience tended to be more willing to buy green products if the “protect the environment” sticker had been removed from them. Learning how to best reach all sides of the political spectrum will be vital in order to guarantee that real change occurs.
A huge component of making changes is recognizing that human beings are definitely creatures of habit — we go to work the same way every day, get coffee at the same spot, bring the same lunch, and routines can be hard to break. However it’s important to present people with alternatives to help them break bad habits. This can be as small as no longer giving out plastic straws unless explicitly being asked for one or shifting monthly reports and statements to electronic copies only. By working with people to create good habits, we can help encourage green behavior (that hopefully sticks)!
A key take away is that although there is indeed growing momentum behind sustainable business practices, there is also a lot of work left to do around communicating brand sustainability to customers. Utilizing some of the efforts discussed along with marketing fundamentals to connect consumers with the brand’s purpose and product benefits will clearly be central to success in the coming years.