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Make Your Audience Do What You Want – Hit Them With a Lightning Bolt!


Talk about an electrifying experience! I’m at a national sales meeting, and I’ve been brought in to help refine and focus the presentations and manage the content. Now it’s all happening and I’m watching. Blam – right between the eyes I’m hit with a realization I’d missed.

“Wow, this is something I can really use!” I think to myself, and I start madly scribbling notes. So do most of the other members of the audience.

This was an insight – not the transcendental kind with New Age music, sitting in the lotus position for hours and contemplating your navel. This kind of insight opens doors to new opportunities and doing things better.

A Fact About Facts

Take this quick word association exercise: When I say content, events, communications, what do you think? Facts and data. That is all valuable stuff, but facts aren’t insights. The majority of data, information and opinions only create awareness. They are just reporting.

You can find gigabytes of reports that analyze, rank and sort data on consumers, customers, employees, products – you name it – with the precision of a Veg-O-Matic. You can slice it and dice it, make mounds of julienne fries with it, but those facts don’t become insights until you understand what caused them and what you can do with them… right now.

Awareness is Not An Objective

Greg Alder is creative director for Greg Adler Company in Australia. He explains it this way, “To create an Insight you need to look for the cause behind the Fact.” Greg points to what Professor Theodore Levitt told students at Harvard Business School years ago.

“People don’t want quarter-inch drills. They want quarter-inch holes.”

Real insight is the vital link between a fact you present and a customer/personal/business need. It isn’t a sudden, dramatic revelation. It is a simple but powerful moment when a client or audience member realizes that “what I’m hearing works for me. I need it. I can use that.” Insight is the experience of valuing and using the content. It is the magic point where your presentation goes from being a one-way lecture into an engaging, interesting two-way success.

Tons of Content – No Insight in Sight

It’s easy to feel prepared for an upcoming meeting when you know you have lots of facts to present. But facts alone are pretty boring. They become useful ONLY when they are used in a meaningful way to create customer/audience value. People want insights more than information! So don’t leave insights to chance. Make them an objective as you develop insightful content that:

Offers unique, valuable perspectives on their business, market and/or job.

Helps explore alternatives.

Suggests ways they can avoid potential mistakes.

Teaches how to take actions to create the desired results.

Insight Changes People’s Mind and Behaviors

In short, insight results from a simple formula.

Fact + Need + Connection = Insight.

Fact – Provide a fact that makes the person stop, evaluate and think differently about something that’s important to her or him – not to you. Make the fact relate directly to a need. Keep it simple.

Need – Explain the cause behind the fact and what it means. How does the information help achieve an objective or a goal? How does it help overcome obstacles? What can they do?

Insight – The audience makes the connection. Each person recognizes a compelling reason why it’s necessary to take action. Then there’s that instant of realization that it can happen now. “I know how to do this!”

You can’t make insights happen. You have to allow them to happen. Give people facts that are relevant to them, link them to a specific need and then help them make the connection. Oh, just labeling something as an insight doesn’t make it one.

No More Call to Action

Think about 95% of the presentations and events you’ve attended or given. There is a ‘call to action’ at the end. It’s usually right after the phrase “And so …” By providing insights instead, you weave the motivations throughout the presentation or event. There’s no need to provide a big summary and recap what has to happen – the audience already knows and is ready to get started!

Insights are practical and ground level. They are here and now and provide actions the audience can take – immediately. This is the tough business reality: Unless they see and hear what you are saying, understand it, value it and are ready to act … your presentation and its budget were wasted.

For your next presentation, use insights to leverage facts to help determine actions that generate positive results.  You will open doors to new opportunities and doing things better. Plus there is one big advantage that outweighs all the rest:

Moments of simple insight focus everything in your content on the audience and on generating the actions you need. Isn’t that why you had the event or sent the communication in the first place?

If you want to know more about providing insights and creating memorable events just click on CONTACT US and get in touch

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About the Author
Andy Johnston is a multi-faceted communication professional who has a comfortable way of working with people. Andy is an Emmy Award winning communicator known for his energy, humor, creativity and his unique ability to discover the key results that must be generated – and then to develop ingenious ways to engage and motivate audiences. He has broad experience in strategic planning, messaging, creative direction, marketing, and events. One of the things Andy says often is, “How can we make it better?”
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