Who’s gonna decide?

When you have an awesome product, it’s tempting to decide for your customer. To just assume that if only your audience knew what you know it would be a no-brainer to choose you, right? And so it’s no wonder that many communicators act as if the information itself was a good enough reason to choose you.

It’s not.

It’s not sufficient to provide all the good reasons to convince the audience. Because it’s not even about the good reasons at all in the first place.

If you’re trying to convince someone, you have already decided for them. You act as if you know the truth and as if they need to agree with you.

They don’t.

And you don’t need them to. Not if your product is actually that good.

Instead, lead your audience to the point of no return. The point where they see and feel what your idea means for them so that they are able to make a conscious decision – no matter what their truth is, no matter how they see the world and what’s important to them.

If you’ve done your homework and your idea is actually good, they will decide for your idea. Even if their truth is totally different than yours. Even if they don’t care for the good reasons at all.

It’s a much more satisfying experience for your audience when you let them decide. When you respect their truth. Their worldview. Their perspective.

Do the right thing. Make it obvious. Let them decide. That’s how servant speakers treat their audience.

It’s their time

At the time I published this post your day had 900 minutes left. When you finish reading, it will be down to 899 minutes.

Why did you choose to invest your time in reading this? What else could you do? Will you feel like the time was worth it? Because you’re not going to get it back.

How about your audience? Why did they choose to invest the time to listen to you? What else could they do with the 60 minutes they are investing in you?

It’s a privilege to get access to their time. We should treat this privilege with respect. With the respect of keeping it short and relevant. So that every minute they invest is worth it to them. So that they feel that there wouldn’t have been a better investment of their time than spending it with us.

Servant speakers respect the time of their audience.

What your audience cares about

… is not you, but themselves. A few of the more obvious things they might care about:

  • They want praise and recognition from their boss.
  • They do not want trouble with their colleagues.
  • Less hassle.
  • They want to save money.
  • Or make money. Big time.
  • Close that deal.
  • Scale their business.
  • They don’t want to take any risks.
  • Not decide for themselves so they can shift the blame if it fails.
  • Have someone tell them what to do.
  • They want to live a healthier life.
  • Feel good.
  • Impress their friends.
  • They want to be promoted.

Any of these result from constraints and demands, from experiences and desires that sometimes have a lot, but just as often have only very little to do with your product. And yet these aspects determine how your audience hears what you say.

The often overlooked reason why pitches succeed

The most overlooked reason why someone wins a pitch is that their product is actually good.

If your competition won and you didn’t, it’s easy to assume that they were “better salesmen”. And maybe they are. So, sure, become a great salesman.

Yet, it’s far more likely – and far more healthy – to assume that your competition, as well as the decision makers, are just as smart as you are so that your competion’s offering is actually that good.

With a twist: it’s good subjectively – not objectively. Because there is no objectivity. An offering is always for someone. I’ve seen many pitches fail not because the idea wasn’t great but because it was great from the wrong perspective, focussing on aspects that were important to the developers rather than the decision makers or the users.

To understand the needs, wants, and desires of that someone makes it so much more likely to build a product that appeals to your audience and then to be able to communicate it in a way that resonates deeply. This is what great salesmen do: They take a great product and let it shine.

The final hurdle

Too many great ideas, products, and projects fail at the final hurdle if the pitch doesn’t convince the decision maker. This is kind of frustrating when you’ve invested so much into building this idea. You’ve given it your all, you’ve thought really hard about making it the best it can be. And likely it would even be in the decision maker’s interest to choose to go for it. Yet, she doesn’t.

If you build a remarkable product it sometimes feels like the best salesmen have an unfair advantage because it’s them who catch the big fish even when their product is inferior.

Time for a change. Time to craft the story of your pitch so that decision makers will decide for the right thing. They won’t be blinded by some sneaky sales techniques, but be able to see the beauty of your idea. The value of your product. Or the impact of your project.

Time to make it irresistible. To take this last hurdle and turn a remarkable idea into reality. To give it your best and deliver a pitch that nails it.

Today, I’m launching a new 1:1 service that is designed to do just that. With a proven process that is the result of more than 12 years of pitching, coaching, and analysing thousands of presentations we’ll craft a story that matches the quality of your idea.

As a reader of my blog, you get early access and a special offer until registration opens to the general public on May, 11th. Check out the details on priority access for The Art of Pitching.

Speaking is a privilege, not an obligation.

It’s an opportunity to get access to the exclusive attention of an entire audience. It’s the opportunity to make them see and feel what matters to you. To open their eyes, to warn them, to inspire them, to lead the way, …

It’s an opportunity to change minds and lead your audience to take action.

It is your chance to make change happen.

The obligation is in making use of that privilege.

The big stage

It used to be a privilege to be the speaker who gets to stand on the big stage, in front of an audience of 2,000+.

It’s not, anymore. You are already on a far bigger stage. Because nowadays, the big stage is everywhere. In particular, it’s in your living room. The impact of one video on YouTube, Instagram and other platforms can exceed the impact of any speech to any live audience by several magnitudes.

So, if you’re looking to make an impact, it’s not the gatekeepers of the large conferences who keep you away from it. You don’t need their permission to step up. In fact, you don’t need anybody’s permission. You can give yourself permission. Permission to prepare, to record, and to upload. To let us in into your world. To share your point of view. To open up new perspectives.

You don’t need a stage for this. All you need is a camera. And when in doubt, the one you have with you is good enough to put you in front of the largest audience you’ve ever spoken to.

So, if you’ve got something to share with us, please do.

Pink bunny won’t stop drumming

Duracell provides 25% of all batteries worldwide. When you think of Duracell, what do you think of? Quite likely it’s one of these commercials:

The pink bunny is Duracell’s mascot for as long as I can remember. The bunny keeps drumming when other batteries have long given up. That you remember this bunny so well, is no coincidence. It’s enabled by a conscious decision by Duracell that’s based on their brand’s promise.

The pink bunny makes a simple promise: peace of mind. You’ve got kids and want to avoid tears under the X-mas tree at all cost? Get a Duracell so that the batteries will last. You go camping and need your batteries to last for the whole trip? Get a Duracell. You’ve got a pool party and the batteries need to last until sunrise even at full loudness? Get a Duracell.

It’s even in their name: durable cell.

Duracell has consciously decided on their core value: durability. They have framed a promise that matches perfectly to that value. They have looked for a way to make us visualise that promise. And then they have stuck with it.

Only one message, one promise, one visualisation. Each and every public communication you ever saw from Duracell was in some form or the other related to durability, most of them accompanied by the pink bunny.

So, what do you stand for? Is it in your name? Do you have a simple promise? One that is easy to visualise and remember? Will you stick with it?

What’s your pink bunny?

Best presentation award

As a film director, you can fail at the box office and still win the Oscars. Winning the Oscars can hugely benefit your future projects. It earns you trust and may boost the financial success of upcoming movies.

With presentations that’s often not the case. There is no critics’ price. There is no appreciation for “She had the best storyline”, “The animations were so artistically well choreographed”, or “It was such a clever twist on slide 24”.

With a presentation, it’s always the audience who decides whether it’s been worthwhile, never the critics. So, it always pays to understand who the audience is. Who are they? What matters to them? Why do they grant 30 minutes of their time to listen to you?

By all means, make it clever, choreograph it well, craft a compelling storyline, but do it in a way that works for your audience.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz