How to Leave Your Innovative Presentation Audience Happy

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

A senior account manager gives an innovative sales presentation using video, animation, and a live demonstration about his company’s latest computer-activated plasma- and laser-cutting tools for steel plate to a defense contractor who builds naval combat ships.

His crisp summary highlights the extra speed, reliability, and precision of his company’s heavy-steel cutting machines that results in reduced waste, increased productivity and quality, and the ability to better meet stringent deadlines and budgets — critical components of getting renewed contracts in the defense industry.

Following his summary, he points to a man sitting on the side and says, “I introduced Travis H. in the beginning. While he was quiet throughout my talk, I’d like to bring him up now.”

The well-dressed, professional-looking man in his 40s pushes an open cart with a small tablecloth over it, obviously hiding something underneath.

Travis opens with, “This is the end of our structured presentation. we hope you understand the excellent information about using our latest equipment to give you the benefits Sam mentioned. Since we have 15 minutes left, we would like to give you a dessert while we briefly chat with you. Don’t worry, we’ll still finish ahead of schedule.”

With that, he uncovers the cart and reveals a large cake under a glass cover, which he also removes. “Quality inspection is critical in your industry. Can I get someone up here to do a quality check on this cake?” he asks, as some people laugh while others are curious as to what’s going on.

A smiling engineering vice president (VP) steps up, looks it over as Travis queries, “Is that cake marked or otherwise defective in any way? Does it look like a tasty, normal cake that our account manager baked just for all of you?”

More laughs and smiles from the group as the “inspector” says, “Yeah …looks okay to me.” “Now, check the cart out,” Travis requests and continues, “It’s a regular cart, with just a flat top holding the cake and nothing under it right?” The VP affirms it.

Travis takes the small tablecloth, covers the front of the cake and shouts the name of the account manager’s company while lifting the cloth straight up to the amazement of everyone.

Not only is the cake now bigger with a different color and decoration, but it has 18 perfectly equal slices in it, exactly the number for each person in the group! The account manager steps forward as jaws are still hanging down and says, “I told you we offer precision! We’ll work the same magic for your company — growth and perfect cuts.”

To those who asked, he explained that Travis was really a highly skilled magician hired to entertain the group. Needless to say, his innovative presentation was a cakewalk that had a tasty win to it.