For those of you who haven’t seen it, yet, the campaign features a forensic sketch artist from the FBI. He asked women to describe the way their faces looked, and he drew a sketch based on each of their descriptions. Then he repeated the process with someone else, a complete stranger, who had just met the same women. The result:
Two pretty different pictures.
The same thing happens when we are speaking. We think we are doing one thing with our actions (based on how it feels when we do them), but the people watching us often experience something different.
The best way way to decrease this disparity gap is by watching yourself on video.
The audience can’t see your heart pounding out of your chest or your mind spinning out of control. They don’t know what section of your notes never made it into your presentation. They only learn what you give them. With the help of our coaches and your video, you learn how to turn your ineffective habits into better ones.
Here’s your assignment:
Using your computer (or phone or camera), record yourself practicing a presentation, or rehearsing the opening you intend to give at your next meeting.
Then, watch it. See yourself as your audience will see you.
You’ve heard us say it before, and we’ll say it again: People buy on emotion and justify with fact.
There’s no better place to watch emotions unfold than on the Super Bowl, and it’s no surprise to us that the commercials that stood out were the ones that got us with emotion.
Oftentimes, when we think about adding emotion, we immediately think we need to add something weepy. A sad statistic. Something gripping. But as we saw with this year’s Super Bowl commercials, emotion doesn’t have to be sad to be effective.
There are all kinds of emotions – like competition, as we saw with the Oreo “Whisper Fight” ad. Almost all of us have had a conversation about how to eat an Oreo, or which part of it is the best. This ad (which later became an ad campaign via Twitter during the game) pulled in all of our competitive emotions, as well as a little bit of fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Emotion. Story. And Connection.
To truly win on emotion, there must be some tie between the emotion and the story and the product.
Two Super Bowl ads stood out in our minds:
1. Dodge Ram – So God Made A Farmer - This ad tipped its hat to a slice of Americana, and it targeted the people who drive Dodge Ram trucks. Not posh hipsters, not city slickers, but people of the earth: Farmers. Even the ad, itself, was kind of quiet and a little long-winded, tapping into an identity and attaching the product with the customers, much like the Don’t Mess with Texas campaign as described in Made to Stick. Emotion. Story. And Connection. (What’s more, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, the brand saw a 55% increase in search activity after the game.)
2. Budweiser – Brotherhood. This year, we watched the heartwarming story of the man raising a Budweiser Clydesdale (birthing, bottle-feeding, sleeping in the stall) to become a part of the Budweiser team. Paired brilliantly with Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” connected us with the lasting love of parents, children, siblings and pets everywhere. Budweiser has developed the Clydesdales as brand icons since 1933, making the indelible connection between their emotional story and their brand.
We also saw ads that were highly emotional, but had no connection to the product. Jeep’s “Whole Again” commercial, featuring America’s troops and a voice over by Oprah, was high on the heart-string-o-meter, but it ranked low on connection between why we were feeling emotional (love and sacrifice of our Troops) and what we were supposed to be buying (a Jeep). The same was true with the GoDaddy ads (#TheKiss didn’t make us think about a new web domain for Decker – it made us want to barf and shield our kids’ eyes).
Chances are your next big presentation won’t cost you $126,000 per second like this year’s Super Bowl spots. And you probably won’t have an entire agency to help chisel the details. But you can utilize emotion, story and connection to improve your next presentation, meeting or call.
Here’s our DIY guide:
Start by stirring something inside of your listeners. Whether you take 30 seconds (like Oreo) or a full 2 minutes (like Dodge Ram), urge your audience to feel something.
Then, find a link that connects that emotion back to your message. It’s not enough to start with an emotional story and launch into something that’s unrelated. What emotions convey your news? Your perspective? Don’t just open Pandora’s box of emotions, stay relevant and stay on point. For a great example, check out Frank Warren.
Close and cinch the emotional connection. People will remember your story, but your goal is for them to remember your message. Infuse emotion, all the way into your close. Google’s Chief Executive Larry Page did this extremely well on his most recent earnings call, by urging people to focus on “things that matter in life…living, learning and loving.”
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler
It’s your turn to present, but long-winded coworker Jeff ate half of your time slot. Your 30 minutes has now been chopped to 15. What do you do (other than eat half of Jeff’s “reserved” cupcake in the fridge later)?
One hint: The answer isn’t rushing and speed talking through all your content.
Despite what timing situation you find yourself in — whether your allotment was stolen by a change of agenda or you just lost track of yourself — it’s your responsibility as the presenter to respect time limitations and work with what you have.
Plan ahead and make timing an internal focus the next time you’re presenting. If you don’t play by timing rules, you’ll crash and burn.
Here’s what you need to do about timing:
Know when to cut to the big finish.
When you have one minute left and you haven’t covered all your material, stop right there and head to the strong close.
Remember, a solid conclusion restating the point of view, necessary action steps, and benefits to your listeners is going to drive home the point of the presentation – much more than sped-through, rushed support information. Your audience will likely miss anything you speed through, anyway.
Send a recap email and include the missed points.
Lead with the most important info.
Journalists and speakers plan the same way. Put the most important information up front, so if your story (or time) gets cut short, at least the critical points have been hit.
This can feel counterintuitive – sometimes we like to save the best for a big finale, but frankly, you don’t know what will happen to your time. Prioritize important points so that if you do have to cut to the finish, you’ve made your case.
Use a clock, but don’t look at your watch.
Be sure to have a timepiece available: a large faced clock or your watch placed on the table, or use the clock in the back of the meeting room. Only you need to know when you’re checking your time.
Years ago, I sat next to Zig Ziglar at an NSA event and saw him adjusting his watch to 7pm (but it was 6:30pm). Excited to help him, I let him know the correct time, at which point he whispered, “I always put my watch at the top of the hour no matter what. Helps me see it on the lectern and keep track of time.” Pros like Zig plan for success.
Build in a buffer.
Rehearsal time is shorter than real time, so plan accordingly. A good rule of thumb is that your rehearsal time will be about 75% of your actual speaking time. We tend to add things when we are live, and actually speed up our pace in rehearsing.
It’s a much better situation to find yourself with extra time, than to find yourself out of time.
Meet audience expectations.
What’s everyone’s non-renewable resource? Time! Everyone in your audience is busy, and if they’ve planned for a 10 minute meeting or presentation from you, you must stick with the schedule. Even if you’re interesting, they’ll start checking their phones and watches once you go over, and you’ve lost them.
Going over time can be perceived as disorganized, and even disrespectful, so set expectations and meet them to avoid resentment.
It’s part planning for success, and part having plan B’s ready to go in case of emergency. Prioritize your timeliness the next time you’re presenting because you control the experience you’re creating for your audience. Respect their time, and they’re more likely to respect your points.
After writing about Compartmentalized Communicating, I’ve been thinking about how significant storytelling is to the successful communications experience. Nothing makes that human, emotional connection better than authentic, compelling storytelling. It was Hans Rosling‘s brilliant presentation of statistics at TED India that has kept this topic on my mind.
Bert wrote an excellent post on The Power of Story. It’s spot on. I’d like to add value to it with this complementary post offering a few unique resources, each providing a different perspective on storytelling.
The Moth. A non-profit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling. With performances selling out in less than 48 hours with absolutely no advertising other than word of mouth, the demand for storytelling speaks volumes.
“One of the hottest events in town… The Moth is an evening of
unashamedly old-fashioned storytelling…
the performances are enthralling,
funny and moving, with a typical New York intensity.”
- The Times (London)
“The success of The Moth is one example of
the phenomenon of storytelling that is gaining momentum
nationwide. In The Moth’s case, these narrative
sessions are fast becoming an institution.”
- The New York Times
“We celebrate the ability of stories to honor the diversity and commonality of human experience, and to satisfy a vital human need for connection.” – from The Moth’s Mission Statement
Experience Project. The world’s largest living collection of shared experiences, with over 24 experience categories. Launched in 2007, boasting nearly 3.5 million experiences shared, this is place where individuals share their stories in an anonymous, comfortable and supportive place. A unique website revealing the human hunger to share and read stories, this website is also a useful tool for communicators to search for stories and ideas from categories such as Education, Entertainment, Politics, Business, Relationships, to name a few. From confessions to inspirational stories, the Experience Project is an excellent resource for exploring the stories that connect human experience.
Stories engage the imagination of readers [listeners]
Stories go beyond facts and theories
Stories reveal something about yourself as a blogger [communicator] (they’re personal)
Stories trigger emotions and the senses
Stories are conversational - they stimulate others to react and tell their stories [to you, to others and in their own communications experiences]
Stories provide hooks for readers [listeners ] to latch onto your blogging [message] (they’re relatable)
Stories grab and hold the attention of readers [listeners]
Stories are memorable – while people don’t always latch onto facts and figures – a good story can be remembered for years
Stories illustrate your points in ways that can be much more convincing (and convicting) than other types of information
The common thread of these three sites is clear. People love stories; stories connect them to each other in the most basic human way. Stories are bridges between our humanity and the objective of our presentations. Something so significant should be shared.
“I’m good at sharing facts. I don’t have to use emotion very often, but when I do, I need to speak at the emotion more.”
This came from a client in a recent Platinum Session, referring to the commonly-held belief that engaging emotions is an effort we make only for those presentations intended to motivate and inspire. For this client, he viewed the majority of his presentations as just providing information.
It’s human tendency to compartmentalize. We segment ourselves in all sorts of ways, including ideas about how we should communicate. It seems natural to separate motivational and inspirational focused speeches from data delivery presentations. However, what’s “natural” is not always best. A fragmented mindset can backfire when it comes to communication.
I asked this client a couple of questions:
Do you ever give a presentation in which you’re not presenting data?
Do you ever give a presentation in which you have no intention of impacting your audience?
By definition, a presentation intends to make an impact by conveying information. You can’t make an impact if your data doesn’t reach its destination (the receptive minds of your listeners). Though we might categorize presentations into different types, communication – by definition – involves both emotion and information.
The key to successful communicating is realizing that all communication is an opportunity to motivate and inspire, and all communication requires emotional connection to make an impact.
Bert wrote about this in You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard. People buy on emotion and justify with fact. You can’t connect with the mind – the New Brain (Cerebral Cortex) – without first getting past the gatekeeper – the First Brain (Brain Stem and Limbic System). The First Brain is the seat of emotion and emotional response. Data destined for the New Brain travels through the filter of the First Brain. The First Brain is where the human connection (likability, credibility and trust) is measured. Without getting past the First Brain, the information intended to reach the New Brain hits a brick wall. No matter what type of presentation you are giving, if you want to produce results, you need to be human. You need to incorporate your emotions. You need to connect with the hearts and minds of your audience.
Hans takes data, statistics and trends (information that could easily be a “just presenting data/data dump” presentation) and engages the hearts and minds of his listeners, delivering the data right through the heart and into the mind. Through storytelling, humor and an uncanny ability to perceive and respond to the emotional pulse of his audience, Hans glides right through the First Brain and lands extensive amounts of statistical data into the New Brain, making a memorable impact.
It’s easy to get buried in data and compartmentalize communication into different categories – some requiring emotional connection; others not. But when we do this, we fail to recognize the significance of connecting with our listeners. This is when we need to step back and remind ourselves: Communication without emotion is just data dump. It’s disconnected; it doesn’t effect change; it doesn’t make an impact. The data has no value if it doesn’t reach its destination. Successful communication incorporates the whole self – heart and mind – to connect with others in a basic human way. The human connection is the communications experience – not the data.
To criticize used to mean “to give counsel.” Now it too often means to tear down. In the age of instant communicating, we need to pause and think about what true “criticism” really means – feedback.
Without question, praise is the most powerful motivator. I was amazed at the profound meaning a few nice words (that I saw as no big deal) had for someone recently. Yesterday I got this email after I had thanked one of our people: “Wow, Ben. You’re welcome. Thanks for noticing! Means a lot that you said something.” Encouragement is powerful.
I must continually remind myself as I tend to look towards filling that half filled glass. So must we all.
We have a team of Program Leaders that lead various programs around the country and for them to lead an entire Decker Program takes months of training and extensive feedback. That feedback can easily fall into “tweaks” or “constructive criticism.” It is a great reminder that there has to be encouragement with that. Another of our Program Leaders reminded me she still has a note from me stating “Nice Job” on an initial program that she led…from 3 years ago! I don’t remember doing it, but I’m glad I did.
We run into problems as speakers when we don’t take the time to solicit objective feedback. Although I now make my living from professional speaking, it wasn’t so long ago that I should have been paying people to listen to me (and even then might not have packed the house). I didn’t begin changing until I heard myself bumble through a speech on an audio playback. In just three minutes! Unbelievable. This prompted action.
I began seeking all kinds of feedback. There are three basic types, what we call the 3 x 3 Rule.
The 3 x 3 Rule: Pursue and obtain:
3 positive aspects of your presentation
3 areas where you could improve
You apply the 3 x 3 Rule via:
People feedback – in every presentation, ask five people to provide feedback to you according to the the 3 x 3 Rule.
Video-record every presentation you give (a quick and simple way to do this is with flip video cameras). When you see and hear it played back, write down your observations according to the 3 x 3 Rule.
Audio-record yourself at every opportunity. When was the last time you listened to a voice mail of yourself? (In many cases, you can hit # to playback and approve it before sending.) Record conference calls and business/board presentations. You don’t have to listen to the whole thing – 10-30 seconds will give you a feel for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you multiply the 3 x 3 rule, you get more than 9. What you obtain is a foundation upon which you can build an action plan for excellence.
Think back to a time when you’ve been so incredibly excited to give someone something that you knew they would LOVE. Maybe it was the Superman PEZ dispenser that your younger brother wanted for his 5th birthday… or your kid’s first bicycle with training wheels. Maybe even the macaroni necklace you gave to your mom for Mother’s Day. You thought about what they wanted and then went out and made it or bought it, wrapped it up, and eagerly awaited the day they would open it.
Well, we’ve been wrapping something up for you over the last couple of months, and we’re just as excited. We’re thrilled to announce a partnership with Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the fabulous, best-selling Made To Stick.
Together we created a program that is completely dedicated to messaging. It’ll teach you how to talk about your ideas in a way that will make them stick, and most importantly, make an impact – with your customers, co-workers, bosses (and maybe even your kids). We take our Decker Grid system to bring focus and structure to the message, and then layer on Made To Stick’s SUCCESs principles to make it good and, well…sticky.
Yes, it’s for sales and marketing types, but just as important and applicable for the techies, engineers and ops managers. You’ll learn to identify (and avoid) the dreaded “Curse of Knowledge” – the single biggest obstacle in our communications. Then, with lots of hands-on exercises, you’ll give your idea the wings it needs to fly.
The premiere program is happening October 6th in our San Francisco office – be sure to check out the promo at www.decker.com. I’ll be leading this one with Chip Heath. There’s limited seating, with phone registration only. If you’re interested, give us a ring or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If there’s no room, we’ll get you on the list for the next one.
Until then…start looking around. Anything sticking these days?