The following JPK Group Insights is provided by past JPK Group attendee, Adam Pierno, Chief Strategy Officer at Santy and Founder at Instil Strategy Training.
Last month I attended the JPK Group’s Competitive Intelligence Summit in Boston. There was one consistent thread, which ran through many of the presentations and workshops. This was a reinforcement of something that may be easily forgotten.
Though each speaker was focused on a unique aspect of intelligence gathering, analysis or presenting similar themes emerges. One thought continued to surface: The data does not speak for itself. As intelligence and strategy professionals we are compensated for two things. Our analysis and mastery of the data and for our informed point of view.
So often, the work we do is put forth in lifeless slides. For every Power Point deck that lulls a conference room to sleep, we miss an opportunity to assert the direction we believe is correct. One speaker, Ganesh Ramakrishna of Opex Analytics referred to such presentations as “just lazy.” He pointed out during his talk on data visualization that analysts have access to unlimited tools to help bring their point of view forward in a compelling way. He was discussing organization, design and overall the story that the presenter wants to clearly tell. It is not only their right to make a persuasive case it is their responsibility to do so.
Arik Johnson of Aurora WDC took this point even further. During his working session on Essential Competitive Intelligence Methods and Tools, he temporarily broke free of the deck to make a major point he was clearly passionate about. He pleaded with the group to understand how important it is that they bring influential thinking to their presentations and to their organization. “If you can’t have influence, find a new job,” he told the room.
He went on to explain that in roles of business intelligence and strategy, professionals have to decode the data to provide solutions. Not more questions. If those solutions cannot be executed or are ignored, no value has been added. The job is not to present the data and hope people arrive at your conclusion, but to guide them artfully to your perspective. This was illuminating to the group. It is important to tell the story that the data cannot.
Speaker Jeff Marcoux showed how critical emotion is in a compelling presentation and how viewers tend to tune out stories that lack emotion. He provided examples of highly emotional storytelling, which made very simple points, including an internal video that brought the new mission of Microsoft to life. Emotion is powerful because it allows viewers a shortcut to the point.
Each of these presenters spoke with conviction about their topics. Their visible display of conviction made a strong impression. Presenting data doesn’t have to be dull and dry. In fact, it cannot be dull if you intend to make an impact. If you have a strong point of view, commit to making your point and winning the room over to your side of the issue.