I know it seems like summer is just over but it’s now the time of year when many of you will be starting to plan your company’s sales kick-off event.  Now I’ve been exposed to a number of these over the years and, to be kind, let’s just say that they haven’t always been the inspirational and motivational events they could have and should have been!

Here’s an example. Picture the scene. The lights in the auditorium dim. A hush falls over the assembled throng as they look to the stage in eager anticipation. The stage lights up. Rousing music builds slowly to a crescendo as a video of a space rocket bursting into life and taking off amidst clouds of flame and steam plays on a huge screen. As the rocket eventually disappears off into the wild blue yonder and the music begins to fade, the CEO strides purposefully to centre stage. The audience quivers in anticipation with bated breath. Wow. You could hear a pin drop. Unfortunately, he (or she) then proceeds to bore the audience senseless with a stream of busy and probably unreadable slides providing a seemingly endless review of last year’s business performance!

Still, perhaps all is not lost for the audience. That specially commissioned ‘Conference 2016’ t-shirt may well come in handy next time there is some decorating or gardening to do and, of course, if they can stay awake and feign attention throughout the rest of the day, there’s the annual company party to look forward to in the evening!

Now I appreciate that this is a somewhat cynical take on things and, of course, not all kick-off events are like this or, indeed, on this kind of grand scale. But, hopefully, you get my underlying theme of setting high expectations and then failing to meet them.

Of course, such events do need to be memorable but, first and foremost, they need to seize the opportunity to fire up the team and send them off bristling with inspiration and motivated to get out there and do a fantastic job. Often, though, the key objectives of a sales kick-off get lost in the razzmatazz surrounding the event, and those well-thought-out and well-intended messages carefully crafted by the exec team are simply forgotten or, worse still, not really taken in at all, as the presenters lost the audience’s attention from the get-go.

So, what’s the solution? Well, firstly I must ‘fess up as, clearly, BrightCarbon is a specialist presentations agency and so you may well consider me biased. I have seen at first hand on many occasions, though, the incredible difference that powerful presentation content, delivered using great slides that truly support and reinforce what the presenter has to say, can make. Well-designed and well-structured slide content that uses visuals and animation in an intelligent way draws in and engages audience members, compels them to pay attention and helps them to understand and remember what even the least charismatic presenter amongst your team has to say. Even that stalwart – the annual performance review – can be brought to life if it is presented in the right way!

So, if you are currently in the throes of planning your 2016 kick-off or hope to get to it soon, by all means include the goody-bags and entertainment in your budget, as these events do need to be fun as well as functional. But, while you are at it, please consider not only the powerful messages and success stories you need to share with your team, but also how you can best deliver these to optimum effect and send your team away from your event determined to make 2016 a great year all round!

That’s it all sorted out then isn’t it? Well, maybe, maybe not. Of course your sales team needs to be fully aligned with the company strategy and highly motivated to go out there and do a fantastic job, and I’m sure your now excellent conference presentations will have achieved just that, but is there a danger that they are now ‘all revved up, with no place to go’, as the mighty Meatloaf once asked?

Let’s think for a moment about the takeaways they were probably hoping to get from the conference – alongside the hotly anticipated new gardening t-shirt, of course! Here they are, stuffed to the gunnels with all your latest information and eager to share the news about the benefits of choosing to partner with your company with all your prospects, but do they have the appropriate sales tools to communicate all of this in an engaging, compelling and consistent manner?

There’s plenty of hard evidence to prove that the most effective method of communication is a pairing of great narrative with complementary visuals that help to engage the audience and support the important messages being shared with them. So, no matter how eloquent your sales team members are, to really capitalise on their new-found inspiration and motivation, consider arming them with a highly effective, visual sales presentation that will wow your target audiences and help to differentiate your team from the competition.

If you need some help in pulling all this together, please check out our online masterclasses and on-demand training resources which cover a whole range of presentation-related topics. There’s no charge for these and you might just get some great ideas and learn some new techniques that will really elevate your next presentation.

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Scott Wakefield

Business development consultant

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From liaising with our high profile guest speakers to producing effective presentations for the whole day, BrightCarbon's input ensured the smooth running of this high profile event.

David Gillan Manchester Insurance Institute