4 Steps to Prepare Your Cherry-on-Top Presentation

“Ideas are useless unless used.” —Theodore Levitt

A traditional banana split as served in Cabot's Ice Cream and Restaurant in Newtonville, Massachusetts.
A traditional banana split as served in Cabot’s Ice Cream and Restaurant in Newtonville, Massachusetts.

Suppose your boss approaches you and says, “Company morale is down. I’m giving all employees an hour off work and inviting them to the cafeteria to enjoy free banana splits. I want you to give them a short pep talk before the sundaes are served.” How would you go about your task?

Here’s what I’d do, hypothetically.

Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Determine the audience’s need.

  • Especially if you’re not an employee, you’ll need to do research. Look up what the company’s industry is facing. Look at customer reviews of its products or services. Interview employees.
  • Decide how you’ll fill their need.


Banana splits: As an employee, I knew the morale problem was associates’ fear of infringement on their work from other departments and management . My pep talk needed to show employees how essential all areas and levels were to the company’s survival.

2.  Get an idea.

  • While you’re brainstorming, don’t eliminate ideas because they sound ridiculous.
  • Play with the ideas that grab you most. Which could give a fresh spin? What can you squeeze from that outlandish idea?

Banana splits: I couldn’t give up the silly idea of basing my pep talk on a banana split. What wisdom could I squeeze from the sundae? Maybe I could compare the structures of the company and a banana split. I hoped a banana-split story would delight my audience longer than a speech full of business-speak.

Http:// 3.   Sign on the Internet.

  • Researching your idea may jumpstart a new direction for your idea.
  • Or you may discover gems that enhance your message.

Banana splits: My research unveiled facts that played well with my comparison idea.

4.  Prepare your presentation.

  • Start your talk showing you understand the audience’s present situation.
  • Tell them how things could be.
  • Present your solution in a manner that appeals to their emotions.
  • Tell a story.

Banana splits: I recognized the difficulties the employees were experiencing. I explained my research suggested the product quality, customer service, and ads came across to customers like dog biscuits and threatened the company’s survival and their jobs. I assured them they could shine like a banana split, if they changed how employees treated each other.

MP900314258I told them the banana split’s boat-shaped dish, designed by David Strickler, the inventor of the banana split in 1904, represented the company’s mission.

Banana’s were first imported into America in 1902, making them a relatively a new treat and were in demand in 1904. The banana halves that supported the rest of the banana split represented consumer demand.

The mainstay vanilla ice cream symbolized production. The strawberry scoop denoted product development with its fruitful ideas, while the chocolate ice cream signified energized marketing.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The three syrups (chocolate, pineapple/wet walnut, and strawberry) characterized the areas’ tasks and expertizes. The syrups oozed together in the banana boat. This sharing of tasks and expertizes would improve their products, service, and image. Yum.

The whipped cream signified management, who had associates covered, providing them resources and breaking though red tape.

And what topped the banana split to represent the CEO? A marshmallow? No. Too soft and would get lost against the whipped cream. A nut? Who’d want a nut leading them? A bright red maraschino cherry? Now, that stood out! Many people didn’t like maraschino cherries. But the CEO was hired not to be liked but to lead.

The banana split I order. Strickler would keel over in a faint.
The banana split I order. Strickler would keel over in a faint.

I called for the banana splits to be served and asked everyone to feast their attention on their sundaes. Wouldn’t they enjoy being part of something that had such beautiful synergy—the whole outweighing its individual parts?

Hypothetically, they cheered and dug in.

What bizarre presentation idea worked well that you could share?

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Increase Your Value: Be Able to Lead Activities on the Spur of the Moment

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” —Albert Einstein


We arrive ready to participate, but the leader doesn’t show up. Although we’re familiar with the activity, we seek someone more qualified to fill in for the leader. Unfortunately, that someone is pointing at us!

You can become the person of value others trust to take over in a pinch.

At a recent writers’ conference, a popular author couldn’t attend. The conference coordinator announced that another author/editor would lead her workshop. I’d awaited the workshop and couldn’t imagine anyone else worthy to teach her material. I considered joining another workshop. I’m glad I didn’t. Dina Sleiman presented the author’s material so well I not only learned much, but I had a new respect for Dina’s expertise.

3 Steps to Become the Person Qualified to Lead Activities at the Last Minute

Step 1. Review Your Involvements.

Image courtesy of CNaene at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Based on our jobs or interests, most of us have a set of activities we haunt with regularity. Look at the leaders in these areas. Could you lead their activities? If not, what would you need to do so?

For example, if you spend much time with outdoor groups, could you guide members in survival if some of you became separated from your leader?

Step 2. Seek training, a mentor, or an apprenticeship.

In the Step 1 example, if you reached the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts, you might have training in wilderness survival. If not, seeking survival training would prepare you to step in to lead outdoor lovers in staying alive.


Businesswoman Pushing Elevator Button1. Experience is a great teacher, but if you’re a writer, you don’t need to write five books to be prepared when your dream editor joins you on the elevator during a conference. You can learn how to write and share a short hook that captures the essence of your story. A prepared one-liner also arms you at social functions when people ask what your book is about. In these cases, you’re stepping in for yourself on the spur of the moment.

2. For Kick-off Sunday, all four preschool Sunday school teachers had to attend the first class to introduce themselves to the children. Four-year-olds poured into our classroom. One teacher had volunteered to teach the first class. In a panic, she arrived unprepared, saying she hadn’t received her teacher’s manual.

MP900049745After blinking in surprise, I told her it was okay. I took over and lead the whole lesson without a glitch. Yes, I had experience teaching Sunday school. But my training as a children’s leader in Bible Study Fellowship equipped me to lead any class of preschoolers. Besides intense Bible study, BSF children’s leaders had to develop a cache of finger plays, children’s hymns, and rhythm and large muscle activities. We also trained to tell age-appropriate stories.

In addition, BSF offered training in how to lead adult Bible studies at a moment’s notice.

3. My husband enjoyed membership in Toastmasters. He entered a Table Topics contests. The contest master gave him a topic and less than a minute to think about it. Then he had to give a two-minute talk. He’s prepared to take over the mike in an emergency.

MP900444098Step 3. Forbid doubts to creep in once you’re trained.

Don’t compare your skill to the absent leader’s expertise. You’re trained. Just do it with joy.

Tell us about a time you filled in for someone in a pinch.

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