The First Rule: Prepare.


Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal featured an interesting story on Facebook’s advertising strategy and its new VP of Marketing, Carolyn Everson.  The reporter highlighted Everson’s first big meeting with advertising heavyweights including executives from Unilever, Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, was linked in via videoconference. Facebook has been struggling with its advertising strategy. It’s known to many outsiders that it needs to justify its value to its sponsors.  According to the Journal’s piece, when Mr. Zuckerberg was asked if the advertisers were committed to spending big bucks with Facebook, how could they be assured a return on their investment?

Mr. Zuckerberg's response, according to one of the attendees: "That's a great question and we should probably have an answer to that, shouldn't we?"

WHAT????

I have three rules that I share with my clients. The first rule is to thoroughly prepare for every presentation and press interview. One must prepare key messages and content and then practice those talking points.  This preparation and practice should be the same whether it is for a small audience, keynote speech or interview with a major publication.

Part of this preparation goes beyond the few points you want to deliver to your audience. You must also prepare for the tough questions.  A lot of focus is often spent on high profile press interviews and noteworthy speeches. But sales and investor meetings should be no different, especially if you are a C-suite executive or business leader. Your words will resonate, potentially travelling quickly through the investment community, among competitors and likely the media, as we saw with this example.

When speaking with your stakeholders, whether in person or using the press as a conduit for your message, know what the tough questions will be and have an answer for them.  The topic may be sensitive, but avoiding it or giving a flippant response will only make matters worse.  The audience will think you are either hiding something or simply don’t care.  Neither is beneficial for you or your firm.

 

See my related previous post here