Master Your Message Blog


Movies are totally involving. The best ones make a point. And they’re about people. And we remember the really good ones for a long, long time. That’s the power of stories.

They’re the most compelling part of any presentation.

Doug Stevenson's book on how to tell stories in business presentationsI saw master storytelling coach, Doug Stevenson speak last year. Doug coaches business people in the art of storytelling. And if you’re serious about being a compelling speaker, you absolutely have to get his book, Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method. You’ll find Doug at “The Storytelling Studio for Business.”

Doug is coming to Calgary! If you’re in the Calgary or Edmonton area, this is a NOT TO BE MISSED one day workshop on storytelling for business – on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Get more 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 …

ladypresentingI had a meeting with a client the other day to talk about an upcoming presentation. It was to be an hour-long “lunch and learn” for an energy industry, fortune 500, company. The objective was to get to the next meeting. By that, I mean that this was an introductory meeting about what my client could do to help this multinational corporation mitigate risk in their industry.

At the beginning of our discussion, my client suggested starting with a few slides about them and what they do. Then they were going to go into an explanation of their software and the problems it solved.

So here’s the problem with that: At the beginning of your presentation, nobody cares about you. Sorry, but that’s the truth. They care about themselves and their problem, or concerns.

It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do!

Read More …

Here’s my first rule relating back to my cover article of earlier this week.

We don’t think in words; we think in pictures. It’s images that engage minds.

Painting from cave man daysThink back to caveman days (not personal memories—although it’s been suggested I could relate my own stories of that era—but rather what you know about how they communicated). The walls of their caves were filled with rudimentary visual images of their exploits. They shared stories in pictures.

Of course, they hadn’t invented language yet and so this was the only means they had to share their knowledge. But language is only a set of symbols that represent pictures in our mind.

Take this example: If I were to ask you to think of an “ice cream Read More …

Ever sat through a webinar and had no idea where it was going? I did this morning. I logged off after 20 minutes.

a webinar is a presentationThis webinar was presented by a well-known corporation that provides “back-end” sales and marketing software for small business owners. And yet, in the first twenty minutes, they hadn’t explained what the product does … they hadn’t outlined a problem or challenge that it overcame … they hadn’t outlined an agenda … and I came to the conclusion that they had no idea where they were going and that the rest of the websinar was going to be just as productive.

A webinar is a presentation!

A webinar is a presentation. To be effective it has to follow the same rules – that’s Read More …

Kids having a story told by their grandfatherStories are THE most important elements of a speech or persuasive presentation. Stories are always about people and because of this, we connect with them.

Over 35 years in television, the most important thing I’ve learned is that people are compelling. As humans, we love to hear stories about other humans. Over the past decade certainly, animation and graphics have tended to take center stage in television and film. BUT (and this is a big one) we don’t connect with them. We connect with human drama.

Now I’m not suggesting that we incorporate overly dramatic stories in our business presentations. However, relating your hard facts to the affect they have on humans, or peppering your talk with short anecdotes that serve to illustrate what you’re Read More …

Painting from cave man daysProfessional speakers know that stories are the most powerful tool they have. Human beings love hearing about other human beings. That’s been the case since early man. Cave dwellers used pictures on rock walls to tell about battles with wild beasts, for example.

Any presentation can use stories to make the subject matter far more compelling and memorable. Even sales letters, which trade on being as persuasive as possible, use stories to connect with the audience. Nobody knows that better than Troy White, one of the premier internet sales letter writers, who has sold millions of dollars of products and services through the use of stories.

I caught up with Troy this week to do an interview on how the power of stories helps him Read More …