Master Your Message Blog

Persuasion

Here’s a video that I created for a client a few months ago that serves to illustrate a persuasive structure for any type of presentation, email, letter, phone call, etc. It’s only two minutes long (that was actually a requirement).

The presentation was a key element of a larger package that secured a $400K grant. Tecterra was the funding organization (the “client” in this case). There were four grants available and over 70 contenders.

Hopefully, you can pick out the key elements in the structure. They can be subtle, because you want the presentation to flow.

First, start with what your audience knows. Usually it centres around the problem. That’s usually the one thing we can all relate to—the thing that’s making us Read More …

mother-nature

Mother Nature

If you’re in any type of persuasive situation (presentation or not), you have to control the narrative—the story. Your story has to be the most compelling one. If you simply attack the existing narrative, your chances of winning are slim.

In sports, any team that plays only defense won’t win. You need to play offense, as well as defense. That’s a key lesson of sports.

I’ve been working with a group of scientists and engineers who are adamant about discrediting the current manmade warming theory. After all, it’s a scam and simply doesn’t survive any type of true analytical thinking. The solar system creates the climate on Earth and man is not in control of anything. Sorry!

Ask any astrophysicist.

But Read More …

science-webI often work with groups that are in the technical, engineering, or science fields. I refer to them as “left-brain thinkers.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. They’re detail oriented and that’s great! Because without them, we’d likely have far fewer advances in civilization.

However, in presentations, detail-oriented-thinking is usually detrimental to getting your message across. Audiences can’t handle detail—certainly not at one sitting.

Each of the above groups tends to create a very long list of points they want communicate and chock their presentations full of facts and numbers. They’re never happy with three key points under a central theme—they’re always coming up with more and more points …

Take a lesson from the political realm. Political teams come up with one message and hammer Read More …

older-man-using-strategy-playing-chessLately, I’ve been finding more eyes glazing over than usual when ask about presentation strategy. The question I ask is the title of this article.

Or there’s a tone of bewilderment, accompanied by the question, “Why do I even need one?”

In truth, maybe you don’t. If you’re delivering a presentation that’s main purpose is to impart information and has no other goal, you probably don’t. But with a persuasive presentation, your strategy is key.

Your strategy is the most important contributor to your success.

Persuasive presentations are sales presentations. They’re corporate presentations designed to change behaviors, or attitudes. They’re any presentation with an objective of getting someone to do, think, or believe something after the presentation is over.

The most important element in determining success (other than structure, content, and delivery), is strategy. Now, you might be thinking, “Well then, strategy is a very small part of ‘the mix’ then.” No, not at all. Read More …

audience-webNever in history have we been bombarded on a daily basis with so much information. Much of it comes in the form of distractions.

You know what I’m talking about: Emails, cell phones, texting; we’re bounced around all day long between one snippet of information and another.

Little work of any import happens in such an environment. But that’s reality for most of the workday. And it’s tiring. I don’t have to tell you that.

We’re bombarded with snippets of information hourly.

It’s no different in a presentation situation. You may think you have the attention of a cohesive group in an “out-of-the-line-of-fire” conference room, but it’s rarely “undivided.” Minds don’t automatically shut themselves off from outside issues when the eyes are focused on a lectern.

In order to have an impact, you have to capture the imagination. You must do it in a way that not only “sticks,” but lodges your message between the appropriate grey cells and resonates for a much longer period than the presentation itself (at the very least)!

Here are some basic principles to keep in mind when you create your next important presentation. Read More …

This past week, I attended a “pitch” competition called “The Doghouse” at the Global Petroleum Show, in Calgary. It was for start-up companies to try their pitches in front of potential investors.

Five different companies on two consecutive days pitched their product or service to five potential investors. They were each evaluated and one winner was picked from each group. But here’s the kicker—each presentation could only be three minutes in length. They really had to have their acts together!

It was gratifying for me to see that the ones that followed the “tried and true” persuasive presentation structure won. They had done their homework and had specifically targeted their presentations to that particular investor audience. The others—not so much.

As I’ve helped take a number of well-known Canadian companies public (some of them are listed here), I sat in the audience, taking notes. I sent a short evaluation to each of the presenters afterwards by email to let them know what I thought they had done well and what they might do to improve their message. Read More …

presentation-small-webHere are the remaining four keys to getting what you want. Use them every time you present and be more successful!

3. Be crystal clear when you ask for what you want—what does success look like? 

I really learned this lesson as speaker/trainer for National Seminars (the largest public seminar company in the US). As part of the program, we would offer pertinent resources (books, DVDs, etc) that participants could buy as a reduced rate during the session.

I’m a huge proponent of reading and owning lots of book so that you have good, solid, well-researched information on hand when you need it. The other concern, of course is that as soon as participants in the seminar leave the room, all but the key points Read More …

presentation-small-webThere are a number of reasons presenters get frustrated with their results. The most common is not getting the response they want. They spend hours putting together all the pertinent information, support it all with gorgeous visuals, work on their performance, and get what seems to be an energetic, positive response from the audience.

But … “no cigar,”as they say. They don’t win the project, make the sale, or get the action they want at the end of their talk.

It could be the structure of without a doubt, the most important part of the presentation—the closing (or “asking for the order”). If you don’t get this right, it really doesn’t matter how the other 98% of your presentation went!

So, let’s take a look Read More …

ukraine-diplomacy

John Kerry, US Secretary of State

OK … I’m generalizing. Surprise me by sending me an example of a wonderful exception!

There was a terrific article out on the CBC online website yesterday by Neil Macdonald. I like his writing generally, but this one shone! It was about the use of gobbledygook.

Here’s how Webster’s Collegiate dictionary defines it: wordy and generally unintelligible jargon.

I have a client who I’m designing a website for, who insists on shoving great big twenty-five cent words into the simple text I write and changes my contractions back to long form (“we’ve” back to “we have.”)

The problem is: We don’t talk like that.

So who is it you think you’re trying to be?

Here’s another definition: language that is Read More …

microphone-webIt’s more important than ever before to listen intently to your audience. The anxiety level amongst employees and the public in general is at an all time high. With good reason.

The disparity is compensation is, in many cases, disturbing. Prices continue to rise; salaries to stagnate. The complexity in the world today is overwhelming—new apps to learn, seemingly every day. Breakdowns involving technology require entire teams to sort out and are expensive.

Politicians are talking over the heads of most of us, seemingly oblivious to the real needs of their voters. Self-interest influences major decisions. Crime is on the rise. You can’t safely open your email without tripping over the scam of the day.

Weather is severe just about everywhere. Countries are invading one Read More …