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June 2011

Are You an Info-Spewer?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 5:28 pm by Brian

When you present, are you primarily an info-spewer? Unless you’re in front of a factoid-starved audience, you’re leaving a lot of engagement on the table.

Information is just THE WHAT. Audiences are hungry for insights…THE WHY. If you are in front of them talking, it’s likely that you are an executive, outside speaker, trainer, or topic expert. Regardless, you are getting the big bucks (compared to them) and your audience knows it. You need to justify that fact by saying the magic words…“this is what it all means.”

Trident gum wrapperInsights are about connections, implications, and ramifications. You’re telling the audience, “You know this piece of information. Well here is what’s unique about that, and exactly why you should care.” Just hearing that set-up is going to cause everyone in your audience’s ears to perk up like a Chihuahua’s. Your real value is about to be heard.

A great way to see the distinction between information and insight is in the classic Trident TV commercials from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The oft-repeated slogan was “4 out of 5 dentists surveyed would recommend sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum.” (Click here to watch a commercial from 1968.)

The statistic a fact…a piece of information. It sounds positive and reassuring. But it isn’t. The insight is darker. And that’s what actually is intriguing. The implication of this stat is that apparently 20% of dentists surveyed are evil or incompetent.  “Hey kids, how about you grind sugar into your enamel, okay? Every three cavities equals one Porsche payment for me.”

The statistic wouldn’t cause you to question a dentist. The implication (i.e. insight) would. That’s what your audiences want…information followed by here’s-what-that-means insights. Every time you find yourself in front of a group of people and talking, you want to be the insight giver.

The best technique for instilling more insights into your presentation content is to self-interview. Look at each PowerPoint slide and ask yourself, “So what?” If you have 20 slides, make sure you are providing 20 so whats. If you do not have a so what for a slide, kill the slide, because it isn’t worthy of the audience’s time.

Here’s a new stat for you: “4 out of 5 audiences surveyed recommended insights for their executives who give speeches.”

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