What’s your hook, line and thinker?

Recently, we asked Danny Wain, a leading commentator and practitioner in the field of people development, back to Marketing Sciences to deliver his presentation training programme to our recently joined staff. Below is Danny’s take on what it’s like to work with us…

What’s your hook, line and thinker? Have you passed the MASH test? Are you delivering the sizzle, not just the sausage? Just a few of the questions I’ve been asking down in Winchester over the past couple of months and which the Marketing Sciences team have been learning to answer.

It’s the second time I’ve run this three-part modularised training programme for Marketing Sciences and I’m delighted to have been asked back. I’m also very pleased to see the progress that the team who attended the first sessions have made in the meantime and the influence they’ve clearly had on those who have joined since and who are now the participants on this second programme.

The overarching aim of the training is to improve the insight and impact of Marketing Sciences’ client presentations and debriefs. As a learning and development consultant specialising in the market research industry, I’m acutely aware of the growing demand among the end users of research for clear, concise and compelling stories rather than detailed data dumps. That’s where MASH comes in: the need to ensure all research output is memorable, actionable, succinct and human.

Two years ago, Marketing Sciences were ahead of the curve in identifying this increasingly urgent client need; hence them asking me to run the first programme in 2011. Part 1 is a highly interactive and practical one-day training course, which focuses on the creation, storyboarding and designing of an effective client-focused presentation. I encourage the team to adopt a journalistic approach to storytelling – hence hook, line and thinker. The ‘hook’ is the intriguing headline, major insight or startling recommendation that grabs the audience’s attention, piques their curiosity and makes them want to hear more. The ‘line’ comprises all the key messages and supporting evidence structured in the most logical, impactful way, while the ‘thinker’ is the concluding launchpad for further discussion, decision or action. The aim is to go beyond delivering just the ‘what’ to the ‘so what?’ and ‘what next?’, using the research data to reinforce the story rather than confuse or drown it.

We apply the guiding principles to some of the group’s real-life output, in effect ‘making over’ the original versions throughout the day and I’m highly encouraged by the changes and improvements made by all. Indeed an element of friendly competition between the working groups spurs everyone on!

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After a month’s pause, in which the team reflect on what they’ve learnt and try to put some of that into practice back in reality, we reconvene for Part 2: a half-day session to review the progress made, share good stuff that the team have created, discuss how to overcome any obstacles that have arisen and agree on next steps and how the success of the whole endeavour can be measured.

The modularised nature of the programme definitely appears to increase the ‘stickiness’ of the learning beyond what I might expect from an isolated one-day course. Most importantly, the programme is aiming not just for improvements at an individual participant level but for a broader and deeper change in mindset and approach at an organisational level. I’m certainly cheered to see the difference already apparent between the presentations brought along by the first and now this second Marketing Sciences group.

Finally, Part 3 focuses on the vital ‘stand and deliver’ element of presenting: the presenter bringing the story alive for the client face-to-face. This is where ‘the sizzle’ comes in. It’s an old salesman’s maxim that if you want to sell the sausage, you don’t list its dull, grey features but rather the tangible (and possibly also intangible), experiential benefits to the customer: the taste on the tongue, the aroma, the sizzle! This final one-day workshop therefore gives each participant the opportunity to stand and deliver several times, be filmed and then review their recorded performance with one-to-one feedback from me. It’s wonderful how, possibly counter-intuitively, reassuring and comforting watching and hearing oneself can be. It also provides a great opportunity to identify both existing strengths and areas for improvement. For me, this is the most fulfilling of the three sessions as I can witness tangible improvements in both capability and confidence, regardless of seniority, experience or role.

We conclude with a review of the key take-outs from the training and, more importantly, how the group are going to implement what they’ve learnt. After all, if you know what you could and should do but don’t do it, you might as well not know it!

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So many thanks to the Marketing Sciences team, once again, for your openness, intelligence, friendliness and sense of fun and adventure. I hope this training provides you with further concrete benefits, both individually and collectively, and hope to have the pleasure of working with you again before too long. In the meantime, carrying on sizzling!

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Danny Wain
01962 842211
Article date - 26/11/2013
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