Giving WOW Presentations (4 of 4)

In the last post we promised to give you the three-point formula that will help you WOW in any presentation you do. Ready for it?

But first, if you haven’t gotten a chance to check out  Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 of the series, make sure to do so. Being familiar with these greatest presentations in history that I included in the earlier posts will give you the framework for what I am about to share now.

Also, I promised to share with you the commercial… or presentation, as I saw it, that was so effective. It was the commercial released at the 2013 Super Bowl by Dodge Ram called, “So God made a farmer.”

It wasn’t a fancifully produced commercial that shocked or alarmed your senses to grab your attention. There were no special effects. It wasn’t racy, lewd or funny… all the normal devices used to gain your interest…. it was simply a well-designed presentation… without the use of video at all. This presentation was delivered by a lone resonant voice over a succession of images telling a story.

How’d it do? It became the most talked about commercial of the year, according to Bluefin Labs, who measures the impact of television via social media. Within 45 minutes it generated 402,000 comments.

Go check it out if you haven’t seen it or don’t quite remember it… and now you will be able to see it from a totally different vantage point—it’s effectiveness as a presentation.

OK, it’s time to wrap up our learning from this four-part series of giving WOW presentations. As Ira Hayes said, “No one ever complains about a speech being too short.” Something to remember and something to prod us to get right to it.

Here is your three-point plan on how to start crafting a WOW presentation:

Point No. 1: Know your audience.

Your presentations should change dramatically from audience to audience. Let’s say you were doing a presentation on social justice to, say, the United Nations, and another one to your 8-year-old son. How differently would those presentations be even though you are presenting on the same topic? The first and foremost important element to your WOW presentation is to consider and know your audience.

Sundays in America are famously a day for both football and religion, which can be one and the same to some. The Super Bowl cranks up the volume on that sense of camaraderie and patriotism. The Dodge Ram commercial used the strong and soothing voice of Paul Harvey to kindle the embers of shared pride, the value of hard work, and the importance of family. Dodge considered the spirit of the crowd who would be watching, and crafted their presentation to accommodate.

Your presentation always starts with your audience. Don’t give the presentation you want to give; give the presentation the audience wants to hear. That starts with empathy. The definition of empathy is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experience of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.

Get into the head, heart and gut of your audience. What are they thinking, what are they feeling, what are they worried about, what are they hopeful for? What do they fear, what do they want? What are they proud of, what are disappointed by? When you know the answers to those questions and speak to those feelings you will make a true and influential connection with your audience.

Point No. 2: Use simple visuals.

This can be literal images or lyrical imagery. Most people think in pictures. You can move their mind and thoughts more effectively if you use pictures.

As I mentioned in the introduction, the Dodge Ram commercial didn’t use any video; it was simply a succession of images. It matched the simplicity and purity of their audience and the cadence and tone of the narrative.

But you can still give a visual presentation even if you don’t have video or a PowerPoint deck; you can do it through visual language.

As you deliver your own WOW presentations, think about how you can help paint the pictures you want your audience to see—either through your visuals or through your visual language.

Point No. 3: Tell a story.

In the Dodge Ram commercial Paul Harvey’s speech told a moving story about the hard work and pioneering nature of Americans, relying heavily on repetition—a rhetorical device favored by Martin Luther King Jr. and Steve Jobs.

The narrative took its audience on an emotional journey designed to inspire a renewed sense of pride in our laborers, in our families, and in the indefatigable spirit of our country, ending with the promise that Ram shares these values… thus if you feel like you work hard, and you like America, and your family, well then you should buy a Ram, doggonit!

Remember that no one remembers your facts, logic and research, particularly your already overcrowded, overwhelmed mind. But your heart remembers your stories and how it made you feel. It will be the stories you tell that will last in the hearts and minds of your audience. Make sure all your persuasive logic is tucked into the Trojan horse of a great story.

Telling a story does not require your spinning this long yarn and taking someone through an epic tale. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you are presenting your software and you stand up and say, “Our software can improve deliverable efficiency by 5.45% and increase sales by 1.2% within 90 days by creating more synergy and collaboration between your two divisions.”

Did your brain go numb? Yeah, so do the brains of those whom you present your once-thought riveting facts and benefits-laden presentations. Try this as an alternative:

“Ted is the Vice President at ACME Corporation. Ted is an old-school type executive who still uses a fountain pen and Day-Timer and hates computers. Ted learned how to use our software in five minutes. He’s been using the software for six months now. This is the picture Ted sent me of he and his wife donning their new Tommy Bahamas outfits while sipping their drinks on the sands of St. Lucia. He just got back from an all you can eat, drink and dance Caribbean cruise he surprised his wife with, paid for by the big bonus he got for all the extra money he made his company using our software. Ted gave me his number to give to you if you’d like to call him. He loves telling people how much he loves our software.”

Hear and see the difference?
Dramatic right?
Which presentation would you remember?
Which one do you think sells more?

All right, I hope you have enjoyed this four-part series as much as I have. This is one you can, and I recommend that you do, refer back to over and over and over again. I know I will.

Thank You.

Giving WOW Presentations (3 of 4)


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