Learning about Presentations from Robin Williams

In the feature film RV, Robin Williams plays an advertising executive. His boss orders him around and it looks like Robin will be put out to pasture. Showing no respect to Robin, the boss orders him onto an assignment. To make a presentation in Colorado, Robin must cancel his family's vacation plans. Hawaii is out. An RV trip to the mountains is in. He is ashamed to admit to his wife and kids that the trip is anything but an attempt to reestablish some quality time in a family that has become fragmented.

Robin stays up at night writing the presentation and fires it off from a mountain peak when he is able to find a signal strong enough. He abandons his family to make the presentation and only then finds out that his boss has brought along a replacement for Robin. Robin is only a backup. The first-string guy fumbles and Robin must step in.

After meeting the clients and noticing their reactions to the first-string guy's emphasis on profits and money, Robin takes a different tact and talks about nostalgia, love and the environment. He saves the day, and the account.

Whenever I have to make a presentation, I always leave myself some wiggle room. I'll switch horses in mid-stream if I have to . . . and sometimes I even plan it that way.

Recently, I was to review a fund-raising video with a client. I played the rough draft version of the video they had approved. They were happy. They loved it. I could have walked away and finished the production, but instead I said, "But, that's not the video I recommend for your fundraising event." In editing, I had fallen in love with a single interview. I was unable to use any "soundbites" from that interview for the approved video, but with a few simple edits, I was able to use the interview itself as a heartfelt fundraising presentation. There was not a dry eye in the conference room after I played the video.

I was confident with both videos, but if the client had hated the first video, I would have redeemed myself with the second. The client loved them both. The interview video was played at the big fundraising event and they were both distributed on DVD and placed on the web. My budget was increased slightly and the client was extremely pleased with their two fundraising videos.

When making presentations, you must know your clients, you must listen to your clients and by all means you must watch your clients during the presentation. If you need to make adjustments, don't make them lightly. But if you sense that something else is needed to make the client happy, stay loose and try a little adjustment.

Don Doman is a published author, video producer, and corporate trainer. He owns the business training site Ideas and Training (http://www.ideasandtraining.com), which he says is the home of the no-hassle "free preview" for business training videos. He also owns Human Resources Radio ([http://www.humanresourcesradio.com]), which broadcasts HR and business training information, program previews, and training samples from some of the world's great training speakers twenty-four hours a day. You can listen and learn on Human Resources Radio.