November 6, 2007

How Can You Make Your Message Stick?

If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered. --- Edgar Allan Poe
Sitting through a day of presentations is mind numbing. It doesn't matter if you're in the audience presenting. An hour-long presentation can be just as bad. What to do? Let's assume the presenter is prepared and has good material. That's not enough. What do you remember the next day or the next month? Not much.

You can't overinvest in becoming your best. Most days, I listen to audiobooks while driving --- especially those related to self-development and thinking. I've noticed that the most engaging books use a conversational style, simple words, memorable stories, insights, summaries and repetition. And questions.

Questions Are The Answer
Sometimes questions are more important than answers. --- Nancy Willard
Presenters will sometimes ask the audience questions. Rarely will many hands go up even to simple queries. Do you have a dog? How many of you don't have a dog? Add up the number of hands and you'll get less than the number of attendees. Audiences don't like raising their hands. It's as if they resent the attempt to force their participation. So why ask questions?

Because we silently answer the questions in our heads. Are you a good driver? Why do you live where you do? What do you think of this topic? Have you seen a pink elephant? Even if we don't want to answer, we can't stop.

The questions can be rhetorical. Open-ended or closed. Asked of one person or a large group. It doesn't matter. When asked a question, we automatically reply. This interaction keeps us involved even without us realizing that we're being manipulated.

Have you noticed that I've been sprinkling questions in my writing? I've been focusing on this consciously. Similarly in meetings and presentations. People get more involved and feel better. What do you think?
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. --- Maya Angelou

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