In February when my wife and I were on vacation in Tucson, AZ, someone recommended that we check out a restaurant nearby called MOD Pizza. Whenever you can get a recommendation from a local person, it usually works out well. This was no exception. We ended up going twice while we were in the area. I’ve since visited other locations in the US and enjoyed it each time. It occurred to me that as presenters we can learn three lessons from how MOD works.
If you have never been to a MOD Pizza, let me explain the experience. MOD offers a pizza or salad option that allows you to add as many toppings as you would like for the same price. You select whether you want a pizza or salad and they ask you a few questions such as whether it is to eat in or to go, the basic sauce option for a pizza, and your name. This is written on a customized sheet that has boxes for these key pieces of information. You then select your toppings, they put the pizza in the oven and a few minutes later you are enjoying a customized pizza or salad made exactly the way you want it.
After a recent visit I thought of three lessons presenters can take from the MOD experience.
Lesson #1: Each audience is different and has different needs
At MOD, no two pizzas or salads are exactly the same. Every person gets to choose their own base and toppings. When presenting, it is important that we consider every audience as different, with different needs for that presentation. Even if someone visits MOD a second time, they usually don’t have exactly the same pizza because they feel like having something else that time. If you regularly present to the same group, they will have different needs each time, so don’t skip the audience analysis part of preparing your message just because it is the same group as last month.
Lesson #2: Document the key information in a structured way
The specialized sheet MOD uses to capture the key information for each item is a good reminder to presenters of how important it is to have a consistent approach to documenting the key information about each presentation. In my upcoming book, GPS for Presentations, I explain a three page document that presenters can use to capture key information like the goal, analysis of the present situation, the structure of the content, and ways to declutter the presentation. By having a consistent approach and documenting it, you can ensure you don’t skip steps in preparing your presentation.
Lesson #3: Create what the audience needs
While MOD does provide some suggested combinations of pizza or salad toppings, they don’t restrict you to those choices and almost everyone I’ve seen chooses their own combination. The MOD team wants to create the pizza or salad you need for that visit. As presenters, we need to remember that the content is about the audience, not us. Even though we may want to present certain information or include a lot of detail, it isn’t about what we want. It is about what that audience needs at that time. Turn the focus towards the audience in order to deliver what they need.
When you have a great experience at a store or restaurant, where you feel valued, you get great service, and you truly enjoy the experience, take a moment to reflect. How can what you experienced inform you as a presenter on how to better serve your audience in future presentations? Oh, and if you want to try the MOD experience, check them out at MODPizza.com.
Dave Paradi has over twenty years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written nine books and over 100 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of less than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel and PowerPoint communities. He regularly presents highly rated sessions at national and regional conferences of financial professionals.