Yesterday, I posted my key takeaways from last week’s FDA advisory meeting for Social Media and Internet Marketing #fdasm (“Ask Not What Social Media Can Do For You“). Today, I’m providing food for thought for how presenters can improve their impact with an FDA advisory board. This is based on watching the 77 presentations last week, and having recently participated in the FDA Risk Communications Advisory Meeting this past February.
Building on a previous post: “Pharma: No More Bullets Please“, here are seven points that can help improve your next presentation to an FDA advisory committee. (These tips will also apply to other important upcoming presentations)
1. Build your story around data. FDA is a data driven entity-it’s in their bones. A story without data reference simply lacks punch for any FDA advisory board. It’s the “reasons to believe” so essential to any communication.
2. Don’t just repeat what FDA already knows; provide clear recommendation(s) including potential solutions, guidelines or unique construct(s) that can help with advancing policy. If FDA is holding the advisory meeting, it means that they largely recognize, and hopefully understand, much of the background and problem, and are looking for ways to move learning and policy forward. Data that leads to a concrete construct is the perfect combination. See if your solution can’t work to sell a dream-that can help FDA take a step closer to its mission of better patient education and health.
3. An FDA advisory board is made up of people and people respond best to a good story. We can take some lessons from Steve Jobs, one of the great presenters. Introduce an antagonist. Every presentation is a theatrical experience: “Every great drama has a hero and a villain.” Steve Jobs explains the problem and leads the way for the hero…Create a common enemy… lead with a strong beginning, middle and end. (If you haven’t watched ABC’s video: The Secrets of Steve Jobs, you may want to take a few minutes to do so here).
Spend the time upfront to think about how your data and expertise can lend themselves to a unique and compelling story that the FDA will thank you for. And of course, it goes without saying, that your story must answer their needs and not yours. If you honestly can’t answer why the FDA should want to listen to you, don’t present!
4. If you’ve read point #3, and you are telling a good story from the FDA’s perspective, and not your own, then you know that this presentation is NOT a sales call or another Biz Development opportunity! Keep your presentation focused on fueling the FDA’s learning and research for developing healthcare policy. In other words, add value or die! (not literally of course)
5. Think about “Twitter-friendly headlines”. Give your key solution a simple name and a short and concise descriptive headline or sound bite e.g. macbookair-“The Worlds’s Thinnest Notebook”. Two examples from #fdasm might be Rohit Bhargava of Oglivy 360 with his 3 C’s for defining when a pharmaco is responsible for content, or Wendy Blackburn with her Rx Risk red button.
6. Use slides to help reinforce your points, but only if slides are simple and readable! The experts recommend practicing Zen like simplicity – ‘the elimination of clutter’. (From my own experience, I know it’s easier said than done.) Unfortunately, more presenters than I can count, including many agency ‘communication experts’, used slides that were difficult to read, packed with too much data to take in or read, and too many competing points. If you have to apologize about a slide, fix it BEFORE the presentation! Your written submission is the place for all the data specifics and detail– not your ten minute presentation and slide support.
7. Relentless practice. It’s the only way to connect with your audience and speak most confidently. The best presenters in the world NEVER skip this step, and spend just as much time rehearsing as creating (maybe more). Just watch any Ted presentation…
If you haven’t watched Pixels and Pills interview with Tom Abrams, presiding officer of the FDA advisory meeting, watch his video. It will reinforce many of the points above.
Importantly, if you presented at last week’s FDA social media hearing, thank you. There were many excellent presentations that were spot on. Please consider these suggestions as potential input for your next presentation…
Looking to stay current with the latest happenings on FDASM? Visit www.fdasm.com, created by Ignite Health.