Have you ever considered how much presentations have in common with television commercials?
Both pitch ideas and attempt to change what the audience thinks, feels or does. Both struggle to cut through the clamor of competing pitches and grab the undivided attention of the audience. Both battle, often in vain, to leave a mark and not be swept from memory by the next pitch to come along.
If you watch television regularly, you undoubtedly see hundreds of commercials a week.
How many of those do you remember? Any? Probably not.
But every once in a while, a commercial comes along that smashes through the clutter and become not only memorable, but part of the cultural, social and political landscape.
The Nielsen ratings have long been the standard measure of popularity for American broadcast television programs. Since the beginning of television, the company has measured every aspect of what Americans watch and why. An analysis of a recent Nielsen survey of television advertising uncovered some very interesting facts that are equally relevant to speakers.
The analysis found that there are five common characteristics of TV ads that connect with viewers.
- Relatable characters and situations
- A simple, upbeat storyline
- Emotional resonance
This isn’t news to the people who conceive, design and make the commercials. Ad agencies and marketing consultants spend billions of dollars to study audience reactions and test advertising approaches. Their careers and fortunes depend on changing the behavior and attitudes of television viewers.
As speakers, we can borrow those same insights to make our own speeches just as powerful, just as resonant, just as effective at persuading others and affecting change as a classic television commercial.
It is important that there be a fundamental logic to your message – selling snake oil is tough – but effective persuasion is about so much more than logic or good sense. It’s about creating the emotional, as well as logical, conditions that will allow your audience to buy into your message.
Start with a logical message; one that it is in our own self-interest to hear and heed. Then tell us a story that demonstrates the point; something we can relate to our own lives. Take us into the story with dialogue and humor. Let us experience the event and react emotionally to what happens.
It works for McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Nike.
It can work just as well for you.