Driving your message home through the unexpected


During my recent visit to New Zealand I saw the advertisement below on TV. 

I think presenters can often learn from advertisements. Advertising agencies after all makes a living from convincing people to buy other people’s products (or as in this case change their behavior) This is similar to what we want to do with presentations. We want to sell something… be it an idea or a service or a business relationship…

What happens in the advertisement? The first “ending” is the expected, that what we always think will happen… then the proviso… then the unexpected, he was not driving 50 and …  Certainly got my attention. How about yours?

You can use the unexpected (or surprises) to great effect in your presentations. Here’s three:

1. Get attention at the beginning.  In your intro describe the situation now… then how it might be… and the presentation is how to move from what is to what can be.

2. Present surprising data.  Historic data may show a trend. Disclose it up to the point where the trend holds… then unveil the unexpected, i.e. how the trend actually played out.

3. Draw surprising/shocking conclusions.  Of course the rest of your talk, including your data must support this, but contrasting your conclusions with “common belief” can get people to listen and go back to your proposals.

How can you use the unexpected in your next presentation?

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