Manage episode 372104790 series 2950797
When we are giving a public presentation, it is rare that we will be given carte blanche by the organisers to promote our product or service. That type of blatant self-promotion is frowned upon and your reputation in the market will be negatively impacted. Great, but I want to sell more stuff. How can we promote ourselves without seeming to be breaking the boundaries of common sense? The hero’s journey is a popular Hollywood trope and it works equally well for us when presenting.
Let’s begin with laying out the situation in the market and at this point we are describing what has gone before and what has been accepted as normal. Now we need to raise the stakes and jack up the tension for the audience, so that they feel what they are hearing is worthwhile. We all love a warning about some impending disaster, because we feel more protected and bettered secured to weather the changes. Most of us respond more easily to addressing our fears than maximising our opportunities. As they say in the newspaper world, “if it bleeds, it leads”.
Changes in the market can be good of course, but we need to zero in on the negative consequences of the coming changes. We need to lay out what could go wrong and try to tie this back to the interests of the audience. If they feel this isn’t going to affect them, then they have a minimal commitment to doing anything about it. This obviously requires some pre-research about who will be in the audience and what they are interested in. That should be standard procedure for any speaker.
Storytelling at this point is a powerful tool. We can use the example of another organisation and what happened to them, because they weren’t able to respond fast or thoroughly enough to the changes. We need to set the scene and put the story in a timeframe based around a season and a place. If we can introduce characters into the story who they will know, even better. Our object is to transport them to the scene which they see in their mind’s eye.
If we can come up with a villain, all the better. It might be an actual person or it could be a circumstance or a piece of technology. ChatGPT is performing wonders for a lot of writers at the moment, as they blast our screeds of text full of doom and gloom and impending disaster. It makes for graphic reading and we are all aware that this is a pivotal change but we don’t quite know the ramifications as yet. That is enough to grab the interest of the audience. This is a gift which will keep giving for a long time and so look for a constant flow of commentary on this subject.
After we have engineered a good dollop of fear to spread into the hearts of our audience, we need to relieve that tension with a way out. Now, we cannot just pound away with the negatives, because that causes the audience to lose hope. We have to balance it out with a way forward. At this point, we may refer directly to a solution which already exists and which is available. That pivot though, is in danger of crossing the line of self-serving promotion. It is better to talk about current research and progress in addressing the issue. The fact that you have identified the problem and that you are actively addressing it, tells everyone you are the one to go to for help, when they need to work on fixing this issue.
Referring to your research finding is much better than referencing the product or service. It elevates the discussion to a point where your credibility is sky high and yet there is no feeling of a bait and switch going on here. You lured the audience into this venue with a sexy presentation title and then when you had them assembled, you switched in a massive commercial for your product or service. We don’t do that. This is where the latest findings, complete with convincing statistics etc ., come to the fore. You are not seen as someone organising this presentation as a group prospecting exercise. Instead, you are seen as delivering a neutral exploration of things everyone should realise. People like to know about a problem and even better, they like to know there is a solution at hand or under close development. When we outline the manner in which the problem will be dealt with, it gives off a tone of scientific breakthrough and we like science more than we like being sold to.
Being able to describe the likely events we will face and also the likely solutions is comforting for people and they are keen to hear the detail. That engagement is what we want as the presenter and we love it when everyone is hanging on our every word. That is a rare event, of course, but if we craft the story well, then that is a distinct possibility. We can paint a word picture of a future state with which everyone can identify. The outline of a better future leaves everyone feeling relieved. The journey from fear to freedom is important and we finish on this note, so that the whole presentation apparatus is felt to be positive and worthwhile. We have sold them on our solution, without anyone feeling they were being sold.