Friday, June 3, 2011

Accenture's Unheard $125,000 Commercial

Thanks for coming back.  I've been busy recently and time for writing the blog has suffered, but now it's time to get back to ridding the world of MABUSHI.

A while ago, I wrote about MABUSHI and the metrics you can use to spot it: the Huh?, Spouse, Who Cares? and Crickets tests.  These tests were done from the context of a presentation to a small audience, usually in a conference room or trade show booth.  I was at the Red Hat Summit in early May and saw a brutally illustrated example of another engagement metric - crowd noise - courtesy of Accenture.

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Accenture paid $125,000 to be a Visionary Sponsor of the show and got the privilege of delivering one of the three opening night keynote speeches.  General Hugh Shelton, Red Hat's Chairman of the Board, went first.  Osama bin Laden had just been killed the day before and everyone wanted to listen to what he had to say.  He kept it short, lively and with the right amount of humor and substance.  The 3000+ attendees kept quiet and listened attentively. Next up was CEO Jim Whitehurst, who introduced Red Hat's cloud strategy and key technologies.  It wasn't bad as CEO product presentatons go, but it was a bit longish.  Still, the audience paid attention.

Then came the chief architect of Accenture to show why they were a "visionary" sponsor for the conference.  The audience gave him the chance to begin but it went downhill with the first slide.  The room noise went up and kept going until you could barely hear the presenter.  It was so painful to watch and listen to that I finally left in search of the buffet tables.

$125,000 so no one could hear what you had to say!  Yikes.  I'm glad it wasn't my budget.

There's been a lot written lately about PowerPoint presentations recently, including right here.  I especially like this one from Gizmodo.  Not only was About Accenture his first slide, it rivaled some of the worst I've ever seen.  Yech!

To make matters worse, he said his Marketing Department told him he had to show this slide.  As if the audience needed to know who Accenture is!  And you're the Chief Architect, where does some schmoe in the Marketing Group get off telling you what you have to say?

Not satisfied by coming off as a weenie, he then went into excruciating detail on every bullet point in eye chart that was the About Accenture slide.  Cue audience noise.

Talk about blown opportunities.  Here were 3000 people waiting to hear what Accenture knew about their problems and how Accenture could help and all they got was 15 minutes of yet another clueless talking head telling everyone how great he was. Ugly.

All I can say is that I'm glad it wasn't my money paying for that slot.  What a waste.

Key Take-Aways:

  • If the audience is making more noise than you, they're not listening.
  • If you're going to follow a decorated war hero on stage, you better have something interesting and relevant to say.
  • Even if the "marketing department" says you have to show that slide, show some backbone, put it at the end of the presentation and talk about something interesting.
Next Up:  Two companies that did it right at Red Hat Summit

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