How not to present a product

The other day, Nokia launched their new Windows Phone 8 Lumia smartphones. They look like pretty nice phones. Unfortunately, their launch was pretty dismal. Janet Tavakoli savages it in a post at HuffPo — she thought the presentation was so bad that she sold her stock in Nokia.

Tavakoli’s post mentioned so many ways the Lumia launch was terrible. Based on Tavakoli’s post, here are my five top ways to not present a product.

Don’t sell it

You can have the best product in the world, but it counts for nothing, if you don’t sell it. Nokia developed great Windows 8 Lumia smartphones, and it needed to ROCK the presentation. It was as if someone had challenged Nokia’s management to kill the company in one day with an anti-sell campaign.

Steve Jobs established the idea of CEO-as-pitchman. Ballmer and Elop might be great CEOs but they aren’t half as good at the sales part as Jobs.

To paraphrase Thelonius Monk: You’ve got to sell it to sell it. Believe in what you’re doing, saying and showing.

Be off brand

Yet on the most important presentation in the fight for Nokia’s survival, the sound cut out. Really? Technical glitches are forgivable by your audience if you’re selling, say, soap, but if you’re a tech company selling phones, you must demonstrate your technical ability to deliver sound.

I don’t think Microsoft or Nokia know what their respective brands are, let alone how to infuse them into everything they do. Unless their brands are boring, somewhat confused and without flair. Oh…

Don’t be passionate

More than that, once people can hear you, you must deliver a good presentation. Can’t Nokia put someone onstage who looks cool and who seems to have passion for the products?

Apparently not.

Designers spend a long time learning how to make things: sketches, renderings, prototypes, presentation boards. They put all of themselves into their work. Presenting to clients, or the public, needs to be part of that work. Without the ability to present with as much passion as they create many designers won’t get the opportunity to create more.

Don’t dress the part

Nokia’s Stephen Elop looked as if he were casually dressed for a funeral.

And Ballmer looked worse.

Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop at the Nokia Lumia Launch. Ballmer has his arm around Elop. Ballmer's jacket is pulling at the button and has rise up around his shoulders. Elop's jacket is flat and featureless.

Ballmer and Elop at the Nokia Lumia Launch.

Be neat. Be tidy. Be slightly more formally dressed than your audience. And for goodness sake, don’t wear a suit without a tie or a tie without a jacket.

Half-arse your presentation

One might have been able to get past the appearance of Nokia’s management, if it hadn’t piled on with zero presentation skills.

It’s not that there are not people who are good at presenting and people who are bad at presenting.

There are people who practice and people who don’t.

In the end, it comes down to this: believe in what you’re presenting and practice more than you think you need to. Everything else will flow from that.

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