Thursday, March 17, 2011

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, Jerry Weissman

MEGO. Is this a commonly known acronym? The first time I saw it was in this book. How do you get things into the daily lexicon? “Don’t tase me bro” came and went. Shock and Awe didn’t last long. Moore’s Law of transistors is said to run its course by 2010. Does MEGO have a few hours in the sun?
I have not stopped reading, even though you could not tell looking at the paucity of recent blog entries. Megan reminded me of my dilatory attention to the exploration and discovery of truth. Thanks for being interested.   As the author explains, “ the inevitable reaction of an audience to a Data Dump is not persuasion but rather the dreadful effect known as MEGO.” One of the few nuggets found in this stream. MEGO means Mine Eyes Glaze Over. Don't stop reading, this will be a short one.
I stopped writing because, after reading 5 books, none of which were particularly inspiring, I did not have the burning desire to wax poetic. Dreary may be the best descriptor of the recent attempt at expanding the mind. Much as with Lorentz’s “The Einstein Theory of Relativity”, ( see  where I hoped to finally understand travel at velocities near the speed of light,  I plowed into Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, by  Jerry Weissman, hoping to give a better PowerPoint presentation. I had recently given a presentation which I perceived to not be well received. I was looking for a new direction. 288 pages later, I gleaned a few tips which I will share.

I cannot now sit through a PowerPoint without being very critical of others; seeing them commit the “Five Cardinal Sins” listed here:  1- NO Clear Point. 2- NO Audience Benefit (you don’t want the audience to ask” so what”)3- NO Clear flow.4- TOO Detailed (the most common and I think greatest mistake made.) 5- TOO Long. (Usually a direct result of #4) There must be a million people writing mediocre books like this one. One hears tell, it is impossible to get a publisher to look at your manuscript. (or screen play if we use a Hollywood analogy).  Weissman not only got it read, also published. The writing was uninspiring, predictable and rather obvious. The editing was poor; Way to many word contractions and if you think I am wordy or like the run on sentence, Weissman could be my mentor. Here are the rest of the nuggets.  
“The art of persuasion must be balanced by Audience Advocacy: convincing your audience that what you want will serve their interests, too.” ...“It’s never enough to present the Features of what you’re selling; every Feature must always be translated into a Benefit” ...“Every communication has as its goal to take the audience from where they are at the start of your presentation, which is Point A, and move them to you objective, which is point B”“This crucial concept of starting with the goal in mind hasn’t penetrated our thing about presentations. …What’s the point” . “In business, when the point is not crystal clear, and when the benefit to the audience is not vividly evident, the investment is declined, the sale is not made, the approval is not granted; the presentation fails.”  “The overwhelming majority of business presentations merely serve to convey data, not to persuade.”
288 pages.  Other key concepts, less is more, you are the presentation not the slides. (unless you are pitching your graphical slide making capability)

All good points. Not enough to inspire serious navel gazing or contemplations of the universe and my place in it.I did think I could do a better job of un-cluttering data on slides and focusing more on me (as the story teller) of the presentation rather than the slides.

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