photo of michael sansoloLast week, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation given by Michael Sansolo during Associated Food Stores’ annual Partners in Excellence show. Michael offered the audience an honest assessment of the grocery industry, what challenges lay ahead and what retailers can do to prepare themselves. He also gave the audience a glimpse of the elements that make a presentation great.

Michael opened his presentation with one of the most honest and candid calls to action that I have heard in quite some time. Michael understood his audience and what was top of mind for them, so he laid everything on the line right from the top. Most presentations that I have watched and even given have the call to action placed at the end of the presentation, but in this case, it made perfect sense. It served as a hook that kept the audience listening throughout the presentation.

Another powerful tool that Michael used was his use of story throughout his presentation. In fact, he used the method described in his new book, “The Big Picture” (amazon affiliate link), coauthored with Kevin Coope. Michael used stories that most of us are familiar with, Hollywood blockbuster movies, as analogies for the points he was trying to drive home. From my days in teaching, we called this “activating prior knowledge.” Again, Michael has a firm grasp of the audiences he works with. He knows that he has to build bridges from where his audience currently sits to build consensus about the points he is trying to make. I had a blast watching how he used these analogies to build his case.

Michael had some tough issues to address and he did it well. Though he was addressing a room full of grocery retailers, his overall point was one that anyone in retail should learn from. To paraphrase Michael, ‘We are faced with tumultuous times. If we are still doing the same things we did 20, 10 or even 5 years ago, we must quickly act by learning, innovating and changing. If not, we might not be around to enjoy tomorrow.’ Michael’s point was well received by everyone there.

Thanks to Associated Food Stores for giving all of us the opportunity to attend Michael’s presentation.

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