A question of presentations

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A question of presentations

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Source: Lee Yeong-taek, a presentation expert at LG Group

There’s one skill that Apple excels in and Samsung and LG lag behind: Presentations.

LG Group’s Lee Yeong-taek is in charge of preparing presentations and proposals for the conglomerate’s major projects and training employees to sharpen their presentation skills.

Showing three TV ads of Apple’s iPhone, LG U+ long term evolution (LTE) and Samsung Electronic’s Galaxy smartphone, Lee said while Apple’s commercial on its voice command feature Siri focused on delivering a message to consumers how they can best utilize the product - by showing how you can find a location of a restaurant, text message a friend or look up this week’s schedule - Samsung and LG’s ads emphasized notable features of the products without telling consumers how those features would change their lives.

An LG U+ ad shows two smartphones downloading a video clip - one overwhelmingly faster the other phone. A woman who was happily looking at her Samsung Electronics smartphone suddenly screams when a photo of a spider appears on the screen. A man accompanying her smashes the screen with a bag.

“LG promotes its speed and Samsung, its high-definition,” Lee said. “Apple shows how people can use Siri just like their secretary. What have high speed and high resolution have to do with it? People want to know how the products will change their lives.”

He said the secret of excellent presentations is putting yourself in the consumer’s standpoint, and Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs, was a master at this.

“Jobs didn’t show how innovative his products were; he emphasized how they will change people’s life,” Lee said. “Presentation skills and expertise have become important tools with the advancement of information technology, given that technologies get more and more complicated and develop at rapid speeds. It’s hard to master a technology: the moment you fully understand it, a next-stage technology has been developed.”

It’s crucial to develop technologies that are easy to use, but they’ll be useless if developers don’t tell consumers how to use them properly, he added.

Lee also said it’s not just the IT sector that must ramp up its presentation skills, but every industry needs to deliver a clear message and new information and knowledge of related ideas or products in an easy-to-understand manner in a brief time.

When asked about one of the most impressive presentations he saw, Lee said I-um Socius CEO Park Hee-eun once made him speechless.

Lee saw Park giving a 15-minute lecture on television using specific and clear vocabulary to deliver her message clearly to the audience.

Lee said he gave Park high credits after listening to her presentation; he had no questions to ask.

Park, the CEO of an online dating Web site, gives presentations for potential investors.

“My presentation delivers one message to investors: Why my firm makes money,” Park said.

Before Park started the online dating Web site, there were plenty of such sites, but most of them failed.

She said this is because women ignored them and the male-to-female ratio on dating Web sites often stood at 8:2.

“Most women don’t want to act proactively,” Park said. “While men ask their friends to set up blind dates, women are passive. The ratio of our male and female clients is balanced, meaning we have more females than any other sites”

After starting business in November 2011, I-um Socius had sales of 60 million won ($52,324) in its first months. Now, it has monthly sales of 100 million won.

The money comes from a 3,300 won fee users pay to send a message to a person.

She credits her business success to presentations that clearly explained her business model to potential investors.

Park said she never rehearses presentations.

“I make an outline for a presentation, just like I write a story,” Park said. “Presentations with logic leaves no questions for the audience.”

In college, she never avoided giving presentations in class, she recalled.

“I think my generation is less self-conscious than my parents’ generation, and we’re not afraid to express our thoughts and do what we want to do,” Park said. “We now have more chances to express ourselves thanks to advancement of digital technology.”

Lee of LG agreed with Park’s generational view.

“As the digital generation that is familiar with computers and the Internet grows, Korea will have power presenters like Steve Jobs in the near future,” Lee said.

Park of I-um Socius said males still dominate startup companies and there is no Korean women ranked as high as Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Park said 17 out of 38 I-um Socius employees are female and she hopes to see successful women in her company in the near future.

Meanwhile, college students are also ramping up their presentation skills to secure jobs during difficult times.

When a Yonsei University’s marketing society recently sought new members to join the group, where alumni in corporate and consulting firms gave tips about presentation skills, the competition ratio stood 10.8:1.

Cho Jeong-hee, a senior at Yonsei University, was one of the students who got into the ring in March 2011.

“All of our members are required to give presentations weekly and I couldn’t sleep a wink for three days; but, I never skipped meetings because it’s a must-have skill in the job market,” Cho said.

Most big companies, and even SMEs, ask job seekers to give presentations on topics to test their abilities, and it is now the norm for students to actively participate in college societies that specialize in presentation.

Hagwon, or private cram schools, are giving special classes in the skill.

“The number of such hagwons doubled in three years, in tandem with the job market’s emphasis on presentations, and all classes are filled with college students during summer and winter breaks,” said Park Sang-hyun, head of the Dream Speech Academy.

By Jeong Seon-eon, Cho Hye-kyung [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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