The Power of "You"
In this sample chapter from Presenting to Win, author Jerry Weissman draws on business case studies to show how effective presentations involve the audience. Learn how to address your audience with benefits rather than features, and how to tailor your message based on the audience.
Case Studies: Karen Hughes, Burson-Marsteller • Aristotle • Jim Bixby, Brooktree • Lise Buyer, Class V Group • Bob Tinker, MobileIron • Cade Collins • The Endodontic Instrument CEO • John Stark, Quantum-Si • Reed Hastings, Netflix
MARILYN IVE POURED MY ♥ OUT NOTHING LEFT LUV WES.1
Ten Minutes from Normal
▪ Point of View ▪
Karen Hughes, who was the communications advisor for President George W. Bush and is now the worldwide vice chair of the multinational public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, cannot take a vacation from evaluating messages. In her autobiography, she recounted a time she was strolling on a beach and saw a small propeller airplane towing a banner with the plaintive plea in the epigraph above. Then she continued:
I could have given [Wes] some message advice: the banner is clearly some sort of appeal to Marilyn, but the words are about Wes—what he has done, how he feels. He should have made this message about her.2
Hughes’ advice to Wes is spot on. Clearly, he had committed the common relationship felony of being “All about you, Babe!”
Wes’ story echoes the tale of the opera diva who receives an adoring fan in her dressing room after a performance. The diva goes on and on about how magnificently she sang her arias, about her dramatic acting, her expressive gestures, and her fabulous costumes. After holding forth for half an hour, the diva turns to the fan and says, “But enough about me, what did you think of my performance?”
Karen Hughes’ advice to Wes about his inverted focus would also be applicable to salespeople who are perpetually being reminded by their sales managers to sell benefits rather than features. And to presenters who repeatedly dump lengthy laundry lists on their audiences as part of a “Stop me if you see anything you like” torrent.
Hughes’ colleagues in journalism are also keenly aware of the importance of the correct point of view. Reporters diligently avoid using “I.” If they must validate a detail of a story and they are the only observer, they refer to themselves as “this reporter.”3