Communications 101 - Using the tagging technique to reinforce key messages in a short presentation

By Brad Dodge on December 30th, 2009

Too often, presenters fail to communicate effectively with their audiences because their presentations sail right over the audiences’ heads. Why? It’s often the presenter’s need to describe every feature and every benefit of their product, describe every relationship with every client, and to reinforce their long tenure in the industry.At every healthcare trade show and conference, we introduce our clients to leading editors that may consider writing about their products and services. For established clients that are meeting for a second, third or fourth time with the editor, the conversation typically centers on new products, industry trends, corporate developments and the like. The editor has met with them before and typically understands the niche they’re serving and the benefits they’re delivering.But for new clients, this is the first attempt for an editor to learn about the client—who they are, what products they have, where the products fit into healthcare and what value they deliver to clients. Picture it—an editor is meeting back-to-back with 20 or 30 vendors in a day and they’re trying to learn and understand every new product and service. It’s a daunting task even for the most seasoned, smartest, most engaged editors. They try hard, they ask questions, and they try to understand what’s so compelling about your offering. How can you make them remember the most important points that establish your value proposition?The answer is not to try to cram 500 facts into the 15 minute meeting, hoping the editor will decipher what’s salient and what’s not.  Eyes glaze over, nothing is retained, and all you get out of it is a new business card.Try a different strategy called tagging. Make fewer points and repeat them many times. Develop three key points you want the editor to remember, and deliver just those. Here is an example on how you can get four mentions of each of your three key points in a 15-minute meeting.

“Thanks for meeting with us. We develop products for payers, and there are many reasons payers want to buy our products, but today I just want to make you aware of three key points: the way we can help payers reduce costs (1st mention), our tools for improving operating efficiency (1st mention), and our methods for improving relationships with providers (1st mention).(“We’d love the opportunity at your convenience to discuss the results many of our clients are getting through their relationship with us…”)“OK, first point, we help payers reduce costs.” (2nd mention) (Now, insert a 2-3 minute, crisp description of how you do this and an example or two backing it up. Not 10 minutes—just 2-3.) “OK, that’s what we wanted you to hear about how our products help payers reduce costs.” (3rd mention)“The second point I want to make you aware of is our tools for helping payers improve operating efficiency.” (2nd mention) (2-3 minute crisp description of how you do it with a couple of examples) “So that‘s the second point, how we help payers improve operating efficiency.” (3rd mention)“And the third point we’d like to discuss is how we help payers improve relationships with providers.” (2nd mention) (2-3 minute crisp description of how you do it with a couple of examples) “And that’s all I wanted to say about our ability to help payers improve provider relationships.” (3rd mention)“So, Ms. Editor, that about ends our 15 minutes, and I want to make sure you leave with an understanding of the three key points I wanted to discuss with you today.  To summarize, we discussed ways we help payers reduce costs (4th mention), our tools for improving operating efficiency (4th mention), and our methods for improving relationships with providers.”(4th mention)In our experience, presenters don’t like to repeat themselves because they feel they might be able to use that same sliver of time to cram in a few more new facts. Problem is, the audience is trying to digest a whole lot of new information in a very short time. Help them out by reducing the number of points you try to convey and repeat those points using the tagging technique. You’ll get better results. Every time.