Once upon a time, there was a joint meeting of the Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Better Business Bureau. There were 800 stakeholders in the audience and I was a featured presenter. My assignment was to present a full report on the results of a huge tourism study our research team had just completed. We had traveled to a dozen cities conducting hundreds of face-to-face interviews. We interviewed business and vacation travelers, travel agents, meeting travel planners, and more. We followed this exploratory work with several thousand surveys. We investigated attitudes, behaviors, and experiences. We showed hundreds of photos and collected feedback on overarching strategies and advertising themes. From start to finish, the project took eight months and cost more than a million dollars. Big decisions rested on what we had learned from the research and what we were recommending they do about it.
Organizers asked me to prepare a 30-minute presentation
My talk was the last one before lunch. As is so often the case, the event started late. It wasn’t long before the organizer told me my time had been cut to 20 minutes. A while later, he said we were running even farther behind and I now had 10 minutes to present my report. And just before I went on, he told me I had five minutes. After he took three of my five minutes introducing me, I was left with 2 minutes to talk about 8 months of work.
My Boy Scout training to Be Prepared paid off here
Wise senior colleagues had taught me years earlier to always prepare several versions, and I had three ready: a full presentation, a streamlined presentation, and The Golden Slide. It’s the presentation version of The Elevator Speech – a brief, clear, big-picture message. On it, I had summarized in less than a dozen words the big issue and the solution. No one complained about not seeing the long version.