Nike's Big Presentation Mistake

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Everybody needs to be a knockout presenter. Companies and individuals who have excellent presentation skills, make more money. get more exposure,  and have greater influence. When people think of public speaking and presentations they often think of delivery. It makes sense. Public speakers present  in front of people and they deliver their message verbally. But there is so much more to public speaking than knowing how to move your body on the platform, how to use your voice, and how to clearly articulate a message.

Public speaking is about the audience. And that was Nike's Big Presentation Mistake. The company chose Colin Kaepernik to be the face of Nike. On Labor Day, Nike promoted their 30th anniversary of the "Just Do It" campaign and featured Kaepernick in a new ad. The text read, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." On the surface it seemed like a good idea. He's an NFL player, he made news by refusing to stand for the National Anthem as a form of protest.  Other NFL players followed his lead. Nike saw him as a leader. The VP of Brand, Gino Fisanotti, said, "We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward."

Notice the language -"We believe."  But what do the fans believe? The advertisement sparked anger with some people burning their Nike athletic gear, while others withdrew their support of the company. When creating a message, the most savvy presenters start with THEM-the audience. In this case, the Nike marketers made a decision based on their own perception and preferences without test marketing the audience reaction. 

How often do leaders and professionals deliver presentations about what they value instead of addressing the listener's self interest? In chapter 7 of Knockout Presentations, an entire chapter is devoted to Listener-Centered Communication. What does the audience care about? How do they like to receive information? Whom do they admire? What are their hot buttons? Once the presenter knows the audience, the next step is to begin with a hook, a grabber, or headline. You'll know you have the right hook when they start nodding. Without an audience the presenter is talking in a vacuum. Yet that's exactly the effect when the presentation doesn't focus on the listener. You might as well be talking to yourself. The next time you give a presentation, start with THEM. In the case of Nike, instead of Just Do It, they should Just Think It.