I don’t believe you! Understanding your audience.

A client was pitching for the construction of a government building with a high degree of complexity. There was only one engineer who had done this specific type of work before and they were based in England. My client was able to successfully engage this engineer to be part of their bid team. This was a real coup for my client.

Unfortunately, they lost the bid.  They conducted a debrief with my client and was surprised to discover that one of the reasons they were unsuccessful was because the government didn’t really believe that my client would be able to engage the key engineer.  The reason for this was because they had tried and failed!

What could we have done differently to overcome this?

In the final presentation we could have

  1. Played a recording of the engineer saying how much they were looking forward to working with the government.
  2. Done a live cross in the presentation to demonstrate commitment.
  3. Flown the engineer out to be present on the day.

So it is vital to understand what drives an audience on a rational and emotional level.

Surprise Release

They say a powerful story is one that grabs you by the throat and that’s definitely what UNCUT GEMS staring Adam Sandler did to me, but not a good way. It consisted of Adam Sandler yelling  and swearing and talking over the top of everyone else for 120 minutes – but I was determined to see it through because my son said it was a great movie. Having said that I think the story line was fantastic as Sandler got into and out of trouble – tension release, tension release – all the way through.

However, overarching the entire story was the tension created by Sandler’s delivery style.  When this tension came to an end, the release was one I wasn’t expecting. I think the writers did this deliberately but the emotion I felt was very much a surprise.

Moving Mountains

A participant on a program recently worked on a presentation that was due in two days time. He delivered the presentation and I called him the day after: “How did it go Jim?”

“Not so good Justin”

“Why was that Jim, did you achieve your objective?”

“Yes I achieved everything I wanted to, but it just turned into a conversation”

Jim was stuck in the old school mindset of presenting.  If your presentation turns into a conversation you have engaged the audience because you are talking about things that are important to them – you’ve nailed it!

So, the formulae we use to get the audience involved is what Andrew Abela calls the SCoRE method. It works by juxtaposing tension and release – the formulae for all good stories.

SCoRE stands for:

Situation – what are you there to talk about – put simply in a few words

Complication – What’s the biggest problem the audience is facing.  This creates tension and the need.

Resolution – what’s the solution to that problem.  This creates the release and satisfies the need.

Example – provide some evidence as to why your resolution will work.

Then continue on with the next CoRE for as long as you need to.

So this simple formula enables us to craft a story, engage the audience and achieve our objective.