Monthly Archives: March 2011

Stories to grab attentions

HBR published a nice and crisp (3 minutes long) video podcast on effective presentations.

It starts by emphasizing the importance of the right story to grab the attention. Generic but time tested concepts:

  • Stranger in a strange land: when you/your company/your team is facing a new (competitive) landscape
  • Revenge: let’s beat the competition!
  • Love story: a new product launchesM&A
  • Rags to riches: entrepreneurs
  • The Qwest: we’ re in search of something important

Next, he basically says it’s important to immediately grab their attention, similar to Jerry Weissman’s concept of the “opening gambit” (a chess metaphor).

Finally he explains other useful, if not new, concepts:

  • Focus on the audience and why they should care (of the “WIIFY” in Jerry’s talk)
  • Explain why you can help provide a solution, but in a crisp digestible format (the classic: boil down to 3-5 points max is exactly for this)
  • And finally explain what are their “CTA”, call to action, what can they actually do right after your presentation to help them put this solution in action.

Overall, if not ground breaking, it’s a great 3 min spend for someone that want to understand  the basics of effective presentations.

It’s often a good idea to protect yourself from emails you will regret

In an early March post from JD Schrammon Jerry Weissman’s blog he refers to several interesting aspects of various types of communication: email, presentations and writing .

Here is my personal addition to this very good post:

“I totally agree with many of points such as white board + classical music for creativity ( I have my "classical music" channel on Pandora for this and got a second white board installed in my office), Crucial Conversation as a great book -though hard to practice as-is the method being a bit long to be able to remember all the points in the middle of a conversation you could not prepare for- and the email one too.

I always tell my team that emails should be answered within 1 day, even if the answer is "I’ll get back to you in XXX days".

One trick for email communication I would add: To avoid issues with venom loaded emails, always sleep on them and NEVER put the name of the person in the address field. Do "reply", then take it out. It’s so easy to hit "Send" by reflex. With no name, your email client will not send it and you will probably save you lots of embarrassment.

Note: I know Lincoln was very well known for writing letter and never sending them. We are just talking about doing to email what he did to mail

Predictably Irrational

I had the opportunity to attend to a presentation from Dan Ariely a few months back. He is the author of the famous “Predictably Irrational” book (and its sequel: “the upside of irrationality”)

The concepts he explores are fascinating. Well, at least for anyone interested in human behavior and why people often make choices that look, without the concepts he explains in ind, completely irrational.

From pricing to presentations and from work to home, I found these books not only very entertaining but also unsettling (i.e. the theory of the “efficient markets hypothesis” is pretty much debunked) and directly applicable in a field like marketing.

One example if this applicability is the concept of offering 3 products to your customers. Although one of his case in point is about choosing between 2 equally exciting trips to Paris or Rome, the concept he described mapped completely with physical products too.

What he explains is that, to skew a customer’s choice towards one particular direction, the easiest way is to offer them three choices. Two very similar and a third one fairly different but or equivalent value. The human brain being what it is, one will naturally compare the 2 similar (and you’ll manage to make the one you want the customer to pick the obviously most interesting one), then compare the “winner” to the 3rd one. However, when getting to this last comparison, the positive feeling build during the first choice will carry on to the second choice.

In “math” terms: if the choices are A1, A2 and B.

  • Customers will select between A1 and A2 first, instinctively. If A1 wins then
  • Customers will select between A1 (with a positive feeling about it) and the similarly appealing (but not similar) B
  • A1 will be selected much more often than B.

In his travel examples the choices were:

  • A1: Rome, all expenses included, nice hotels, tours, etc.
  • A2: same as A1 but without breakfast
  • B: Paris, all expense included, nice hotels, tours, etc.

A1 looks better than A2, so that’s an easy pick for the customer. Then, with this positive feeling about Rome with breakfast (A1), Paris consequently loses and A1 is chosen more often than not.

And it works with regular products too, I have witnessed this.




A trick to avoid forgetting anything

I left a while back ae comment on this post from here:

Basically: how to use the voice message feature of your Windows Phone to never forget anything, anymore.

Another really cool GTD-related thing is Netcentric’s add-in for MS Outlook. If you decide to follow my advice and switch to GTD methodology this is really cool to help out.