3 tips for presentations that stick

Dan Heath has done a fantastic job putting together a series of vignettes on stickiness. Watch this clip on presentations that stick.

Let me add on to Dan’s 3 tips with a few examples we’ve seen in our programs recently:

1. Be Simple: Force yourself to prioritize. Boil down your message into one (yes, one) phrase that signifies the single biggest change in how you want people to think or act about your idea, topic, initiative, product or service.

A veterinarian from our messaging program was trying to convince pet owners that they’re overusing protein in their pet’s diets. This could easily turn into a PowerPoint nightmare of chart-by-chart comparisons of the recommended dietary allowances for carbs, protein, vitamins, etc. Instead, she focused her message and took a page right out of James Carville’s playbook, and created the Point Of View: “It’s the calories, stupid.” And then she went on,Protein alone is not the answer. It’s a balanced diet that your pet needs.”

2. Show something: One participant said that rather than decorate his slides with bullet points, and complex diagrams, that they would begin to “Deckerate” them instead. That means simplify – to the point that you might not even need a slide. Remember that slides are supposed to be a support for your presentation, not to be the presentation.

Of course, the best example of showing and not telling is all things Apple. Man, that iPad is beautiful, and yes, I want it. Apple is so good that they even get you to think that you need it.

3. Tease before you tell: Get them interested! In one of our programs last month, an exec from an insurance company announced that he was going to be doing his in-class presentation on work/life balance. Snooze. Like we haven’t heard that one before. But he began this way…first, he grabbed a flip chart and wrote “Key Clients” at the top. Then he asked everyone to write down their top 5 clients. “If those are your very best clients, you take their calls, right? You’ll let them interrupt a meeting, and always think about how you can add value.”Teaser accomplished. He continued, “Now, how many of you listed your spouse or kids on that list? It’s absolutely critical that you think of your own family as key clients.” Whoa. Mom guilt is in full effect. I’m in.

Your turn. Win a seat in our upcoming June 4 Decker Made to Stick Messaging program! Comment below with a good stickiness story and we’ll draw a winner!

10 comments on “3 tips for presentations that stick

  1. interesting, Deckerblog didn’t comment on presenter’s hand gestures or locked fingers….

  2. Terri,

    What an inspirational way to start the long weekend – talking about taking the jump and breaking norms! Love it! Would love to hear how your presentation goes – keep us posted.

    • Thank you to everyone who submitted a stickiness story.

      Terri – you’re our winner, congratulations!

      Please stay tuned for more of these challenges, and keep those great comments coming!

  3. I’ve had the pleasure of watching (and applying) Decker and the Heaths’ ideas before. This time a new thought struck me: Deckerate — Not Decorate

    I’ve spent my day working on presentation I’m to give to a diverse academic audience. With the Grid and the Made to Stick ideas in mind, I’m taking the jump and presenting an academic talk that will hopefully stick — even as it breaks my field’s academic norms. They have the paper. It’s my job to help sell the ideas.

  4. Jane, Chuck, Steve and Arnout, thanks for the great examples and stories! Love to hear how these are at work to influence.

    Arnout, I just heard another great “target” analogy in a program last week. A marketing director for a services firm started with a target drawn on the flip chart and said, “We’re all about hitting our target.” But then he moved the far corner of the room and continued, “Except it’s getting harder and harder to see it.” Then he whipped out a picture of a sling shot and said, “Even worse, these are the tools we’re using!” Great sticky way to show that they need to sharpen their skills!

  5. One great tease before you tell example. Once I was in a meeting where a manager wanted to make clear the company is losing money due to a lack of focus. What he did was following. He grabbed a flip chart and drew a big dart board. Next, he stepped back and grabbed a hand full off coins out of is pocket. He started to throw the coins at the picture of the dartboard on the flip chart. Off course missing the target and wasting a lot off coins. For me, this was a great way to show in a simple way what the problem was.

  6. Bert, I’ve learned so much over the years from your audio tapes (80’s), book/public speaking classes (90’s), and blog/articles today, that I’m sure I now take credit for lessons that originated with you!
    We hear over and over again about the importance of peppering our speeches with stories but the simple truth is that’s what audiences remember.
    For presenters who say, “Yeah, yeah, I know. Tell stories. But what slide background do you like best?” I would suggest to use a solid slide background, as few slides as possible (with as few words as possible), and put your time into crafting/rehearsing engaging stories that support the few points you plan to make – and that you want your audience to remember.
    Tell stories. Good advice then and now.
    Steve @enthused

  7. I am a pastor and I was teaching on the power of what is caught more than taught. I shared the story of how my son was playing basketball and learned how to block shots. Every time he would block it the refs would start to laugh. At halftime I went over and asked them what was so funny. They told me that he would tell the opposing player “I don’t think so” or “Get out of my house” every time he blocked a shot. That is what I would say to him when we played in the back yard.

  8. Great tips. I do a lot of presentations on better business writing, a topic that promises to put people to sleep. I have created a variety of themes, use fun props, and 75% of my slides are fun visuals (reinforce main points.) The response has been enthusiastic and one of the best compliments I get is that I have made learning fun.