Being right vs. getting it right

Being right feels good, doesn’t it? Being wrong not so much.

In fact, for many being wrong feels so bad that they will go to great lengths to certify why it wasn’t their fault, why it’s because of this and that, and if only they had known this and that then – of course – they would have been right.

Yet, what if it’s not about being right but about getting it right? What if it wasn’t about knowing all the answers but about being able to ask valuable questions? What if the point is not about knowing but about learning? Improving? Seeing with different eyes? From different perspectives?

What if there is no right? If only because we’re on uncharted ground.

Being right is what school taught us to strive for. Often, though, getting it right is much more useful.

What kind of “yes”?

What kind of “yes” are you seeking with your presentation?

Are you looking to just close that deal? Or are you looking for deep commitment?

Are you looking to make a quick buck? Or do you want to build a long lasting relationship?

Are you satisfied when you made the sale? Or do you want to go all the way until you solved the problem?

If it’s the former, then craft a presentation that doesn’t make me think. Make it an easy choice. Make me say “yes” quick. Give me an offer I cannot resist because it’s “too good to be true”.

However, if you’re looking for commitment, if you want to build a relationship, the opposite might be better suited for you. Make it a hard choice. Make me consciously decide that yours is the right solution for me. Make me struggle with the decision so that once I choose you, then I’m totally convinced and I’m all in.

Easy choices appear tempting. But trust isn’t built on easy choices. It’s built on honesty, empathy, and commitment. It’s built on thinking things through and sweating the details.

What kind of “yes” are you seeking?

3 percent

What if you improved your next speech just a little bit? Let’s say (just to put a number on it) by 3%?

It’s not much. Your audience probably won’t notice the difference. But let’s just assume you did. And then you did it again for the next speech. And then the next.

It’s not that big of an effort, either. Just 3% more effort. You probably won’t even notice the difference. But let’s just assume you committed to it. And then you did it again for the next speech. And then the next.

So, what if, each time, with a tiny bit more of an effort, you delighted your audience just that tiny bit more? What if you consistently did it each and every time?

Eventually, your audience will notice.

If you consistently overdeliver on what your audience expects, even just a tiny bit, it will pay in the long term. How many people do you know who would be willing to do the same? It catapults you in your own ballpark.

Just 3%. Every time.

(Of course, the fascinating part is that – if you really do this consistently, if you really do make improving a habit, the impact on the result will add up, but the effort won’t because as you get used to overdelivering, your baseline will adapt. So, in the long run, you will be able to deliver much better results with similar amounts of effort.)

It’s the hero we look at but it’s us who we see

Take a moment to think of a hero of yours. What is it that you admire about her? What did she do that you would love to do yourself? How would you have reacted in that same situation?

Whether it’s a movie hero or a real life hero, heroes inspire us because they provide us with a canvas to project ourselves upon. It’s the hero we look at, but it’s us who we see.

Heroes endure, overcome, and achieve things in a way we don’t. Yet, by listening to stories about our heroes, we are able to live a life that’s unlike our own. To get a sneak peek into what it would be like if we acted differently. Or sometimes even to consciously choose a life that’s different from the hero’s life.

This is what great storytellers understand. That it’s not about the hero but about the listener. It doesn’t matter so much who the hero of your story is, whether it’s fictional or real, or whether it’s a customer’s story or your own. But it matters a lot that it is themselves who our audiences see when listening to our stories.

So what?

A presentation can be brilliantly argued, beautifully designed, masterfully delivered …

… and still fail because it lacks a compelling answer to one simple question: “So what?”

Audiences look for an answer to this simple question every time and if they don’t find one, they will sooner or later tune out. Without a compelling answer to the question of relevance, any effort you put into other aspects might be a waste of time.

So, why should they care? Why them? Why now?

The more compelling the answers to these questions are, and the earlier you provide them, the more likely it is that you can make change happen.

If time runs out …

If time runs out, we tend to switch our attention to what’s urgent. But it’s precisely then when it matters most to focus on what’s important.

For example, if I don’t have much time to prepare for a speech, the least thing I care about is my slides. Slides always scream “urgent”. But they are rarly important.

What’s important is that I get my point across. That I resonate with my audience. That I build a connection with my audience. That they can follow me so I can lead them.

Slides don’t help much with that if your content isn’t great. It’s much more important to reflect upon how your message relates to your audience. For example, if there’s only one thing they take away what is it? What do they need to understand that? What matters to them? What do they believe now and what do they know now?

It’s much more important to have a compelling story without slides than to have compelling slides without a story.

So, if time runs out, focus on what’s important.

Hard choices

Many people believe that a great presentation makes it easy for the audience to choose you. The easier, the better.

Yet, the most satisfying decisions are the hard ones. The ones where we consciously struggle with the decision.

What makes a decision hard is that it forces us to confront who we are. Do we want this thing so badly that we are willing to pay so much for it? Do we really want to spend the effort of changing our habits to achieve that goal?

If a decision is hard then it is because we care. Because if we wouldn’t, it would be easy, right? If we don’t care, we can just as easily dismiss a thing as we can choose it. It won’t matter much.

So, leading your audience to a hard choice means leading them to something they care deeply about. And if they do, then the decision they make is this:

“If that’s who I am, then this is what I need to do!

This, of course, is only possible if you care, too! Leading them to this point means making them see that you understand something profound about them. That you do care about them.

You care by leading them to the point of no return. The point where this choice needs to be made. The point where tension is so high that it can only be relieved by making the decision.

What separates good from great presenters is that the great ones realise that it’s still the audience who’s going to decide. It has to be. Because when it is, you’ve got commitment. They have consciously decided for you.

Your job is to make this decision obvious. To confront them with it. To make them see clearly so that if that’s really who they are, then, well …

… up to you to decide.

WOW vs. AHA

A wow effect is relatively easy to achieve – if only because you can always throw money at the problem of making a show more breathtaking, more thrilling.

The thing is, though: a wow effect is rarely the point. When the show is over, when the wow moment is consumed, then what sticks? And for how long?

The aha effect is different. It’s what makes people care. It’s what makes people resonate with your message. It’s what makes people get what you have to say. The aha effect makes them see your point in a way they cannot unsee.

The thing is, though: an aha effect is something that money can’t buy. It requires effort. The effort of meticulously thinking it through and sweating the details. Of doing the hard work of empathy. Of walking in their shoes so you can speak their language. With clarity.

A wow effect can be a terrific tool to support an aha effect. To grab the attention that’s required to deliver an aha. But wow is never a means to an end. Wow is always a servant to aha.

Is it worth it?

Is it worth it to go through the hassle of preparing a presentation? To research material, craft a story, design the media, rehearse, gather people in a room, …

Well, answer this first: What will be different?

What will your audience understand after your presentation that they couldn’t more easily understand otherwise? What will they see differently than before? Where will they take action that they wouldn’t take on their own?

This is the key question to help you decide whether it’s worth it or whether you can just as well send a memo.

If nothing will be significantly changed by your presentation, then why bother? However, if the change you’re going to make happen with your presentation is worthwhile, then do go through the hassle … and go all of the way.

Good and bad is still alive in marketing

When I think back to when I was a teenager, a lot of TV shows had this very clear distinction between good and bad. Today, it has become hard to find a great show that’s like that. Good is never all good, bad is never all bad. Today’s heroes are torn apart by inner conflicts and their darker sides. In fact, often it’s even hard to say whether there’s good or bad at all.

In a way, you might argue that this is what makes heroes heroic in the first place. It is by overcoming their fears and shortcomings and taking responsibility for their cause that they change the world. So, while we still do have heroes, we don’t have good and bad as we used to.

Except in marketing. Many marketers still act as if it’s us vs. them, good vs. bad. In particular, they act as if they are all good and the competition is all bad.

Which – obviously – is not true and everyone, including themselves, knows it. So they try hard to persuade us. To make us believe that they are the good ones. They will shine the brightest light upon themselves, praise their good sides and hide their dark sides.

And in doing so they overlook the fact that the world has moved on. That it’s precisely the rough edges that we admire in our heroes. We admire them because they are like us – imperfect and vulnerable.

Stories help us to convey this mixture of emotions and this is why so many brands have embraced storytelling. Stories make a brand relatable. They make a speaker one of us. We feel with her.

And because we do, we fall in love with what she stands for and what she brings into our life. It is one of the reasons why we buy from her. Because we see how her story matches ours. How our life improves because of their products.

Not because it is all good but because it matches who we are.

How do you relate to the life of your audience?

Spread the Word

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz