• Presentation Crimes

– Why most presentations fail


Outrunning the Bear

Back in the mid-1990s, when I was with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, our co-founder Jeff Goodby rose one day in our conference room and started a new business presentation with a story. You've probably heard it before.

Two men are hiking in a forest when they disturb a bear. It's that time of year when bears are easily upset, and true to form the bear comes after them. The men run for their lives. They have a good start on the animal, but four legs are better than two and the bear gets closer and closer. Suddenly one of the men stops, takes off his backpack, and sits down on a log.

“What the hell are you doing?” his friend asks, not wanting to stop. He can see the bear's fur boiling as it runs. Its teeth are bared. It's really close.

“I'm changing my shoes,” he replies calmly, removing his heavy hiking boots and slipping on a pair of fancy Nike running shoes.

“You're crazy!” his friend shrieks, running to a spot behind a large tree. “You'll never outrun a bear, even in those.”

“I don't have to outrun the bear,” the man says, standing up and jogging alongside his friend. “I only have to outrun you.”

While the tension in the room evaporated, Jeff was also making a serious point: our prospective client's competitive situation was not what it seemed. It was easy to be distracted ...

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