Guest Post: Five Myths Marketers Believe About Presentations

This post is part of a continuing series of guest posts. Diane DiResta is CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with greater impact.


Having coached a number of marketers on their presentations, it’s come to my attention that when delivering presentations even the most creative marketing professionals may be sabotaging their success. The reason many marketing ideas are rejected by management is not because of the quality of the idea. It’s more often because of the way the idea is presented.

Five Myths Marketers Believe About Presentations


Here are five presentation myths that marketers need to dispel:

1. It’s about the numbers. I’ve seen marketing clients who believe that if the numbers back up their idea, it will sell. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marketers fall in love with the numbers and make this the focal point of the presentation. Then they’re shocked when senior management isn’t excited about their new product launch.

Reality: It’s passion that sells. I had one client who was shot down after presenting a new product. The reason was not because it wasn’t a good product. It was because it wasn’t a compelling presentation. The feedback her manager gave me was that she presented the facts but there was no enthusiasm. Tell the story behind the numbers. Senior management needs to be sold in the same way the consumer needs to be sold.

Marketers, Take Note: Passion Sells


2. Defend your position. One client got into hot water because of a need to defend his idea. When you’re wedded to your way of thinking you can alienate your boss and your supporters.

Reality:  Defending a position may actually backfire on you. Some marketers believe if it isn’t invented here, it doesn’t count. Being flexible and open to other ideas will up the ante on your presentation. Listening and questioning are the keys to success in selling your idea. If you don’t know the answer admit it and offer to get back to the questioner.  “Fake it til you make it” does not apply here. You’ll gain more credibility if you’re honest.

3. Tell them everything you know. Some marketers do a data dump, believing the listeners should be information rich.

Reality:   Good speaking like good marketing gets to the point. When pitching a product or concept if you give too many details, the listeners tune out.  Tell them what they need to know – not everything you know. When it comes to delivery, less is more.

Effective Public Speaking for Marketers


4. Keep Talking. Some marketers believe that by dominating the conversation they’ll push through their ideas. The squeaky wheel may get the grease but it won’t necessarily get you the business.

Reality: Know when to shut up. A running faucet will eventually flood a room. Don’t drown in your own verbiage. Come up for air. Master the pause.

5. The Company Knows Best. Departments  have their own culture. Expectations may range from using  a standard version of a PowerPoint template to having a tradition of all presenters being seated.

Reality: Tradition doesn’t have to reign. Breaking the rules can be used to your advantage. A text-only deck is not as impactful as slides that contain a few visuals. Just because presenters traditionally speak while seated in a boardroom, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand. Effective presenters know how to stand out and blend in. You can respect company culture and also infuse your personal brand.

To give a good presentation remember the three  Cs – clear, concise, and compelling.


Diane DiResta is CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with greater impact — whether face-to-face, in front of a crowd or from an electronic platform.  DiResta is the author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, an category best-seller and widely-used text in college business communication courses.

Follow Randall Beard on Twitter

Get free updates of Randall Beard’s Blog by RSS reader

Get free updates of Randall Beard’s Blog by e-mail


4 Responses to Guest Post: Five Myths Marketers Believe About Presentations

  1. jestyn says:

    Hi Randall

    Hope all is well – UBS continues…

    I recently attended a seminar run by Andrew Abela, an ex-McKinsey consultant, and now a professor of marketing, who has a very structured approach to a particular kind or presentation (effectively where you need to persuade someone to make an investment decision). It’s a great approach, and I’ve used it a couple of times at UBS.

    You can find more details in his book “Advance Presentations by Design” or at

    I would definitely recommend it.


    • beardrs says:

      Jestyn–Thanks for reading Diane’s guest blog post and taking the time to comment. I’ll check out Andrew’s site. I’d also be interested in Diane’s thoughts to his approach. Having actually done a bit of training with Diane, I can tell you that she really knows presentations, including how to present yourself. Randall

  2. DeniseB says:

    Diane DiResta hit all the nails on the head with this article. If not for the wonderful mentors (and bosses) I would have made all of these mistakes as a newbie brand manager. Leaders, share this with your people although these principles may seem obvious. But people really don’t know what they don’t know, especially when it comes to delivering a presentation. Too many people with potential, and too many good ideas, have perished because of poor communication skills.

    • beardrs says:

      Hi Denise — Thanks for reading Diane’s blog post. I can personally relate to Diane’s post because when I was a newbie brand manager, I always wanted to tell people everything I knew in my presentations, and learned the hard way Diane’s point about being concise. My first brand manager once told me that your objective when presenting to management is to “make is as easy as possible for them to agree to your recommendation.” And this usually means simplicity first and foremost. Randall

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: