In the sport of baseball, many of the best pitchers throw a type of pitch called the ‘Change Up.’

It’s designed to keep a hitter off balance. The pitcher acts as if he is going to throw the ball as fast as possible, but, because of the type of grip he has on the ball, it is thrown at a much slower speed.  When done correctly, this has the effect of causing a batter to swing too soon and completely miss the ball.

In the presentation world, the best speakers also use ‘change ups’ to maintain audience attention.  Because of the onslaught of technological change in recent decades, audiences have shorter attention spans.  Additionally, the advent of Social Media has created an expectation that audiences will be involved in your presentations. Lastly, in the words of Hall of Fame speaker Patricia Fripp, “sameness is boring.”  It’s important to be different if you want to be memorable.

What does all this mean? Periodically, change up how you deliver your message.  Tell stories, ask questions, give them activities, show relevant videos.  Each of these involves a different learning mode, and typically appeals to different personality styles in the audience.  By changing the manner in which you share your ideas, you increase the odds of your message being remembered, and, more importantly, acted upon.

This change of pace is especially important when using Power Point.  Presentation expert Carmen Simon of Rexi Media in San Francisco points out that in a recent study, audiences remembered only 20% of slides they had seen just 48 hours earlier.  20%!  

Actually, this isn’t a shock when you think about the majority of Power Point presentations you’ve seen.  What is most interesting about the Rexi Media study is the underlying reason audiences remembered those 20%.

The content, or ‘look’ of those slides varied from the other 80%   As Simon put it, “For the brain to remember, presenters must deviate from a pattern in some significant way.”

As an example, consider the following example from the world of finance.  

A million dollars = ten thousand  $100 bills

A billion dollars = ten million $100 bills

A trillion dollars = ten billion $100 bills

This is how most financial professionals present their ideas, in raw numbers on a screen.  Using words to represent numbers is sterile and unemotional.

Wouldn’t these images be more memorable and leave a more lasting impression on an audience if they were represented like this:

One Million Dollars represented in a speech graphic

Man Standing Next to One Million Worth of $100 Bills

Speech picture representing one billion dollars

Man Standing Next to One Billion Worth of $100 Bills

Speech picture of One Trillion dollars

Man Standing Next to One Trillion Worth of $100 bills.  (Yes, there really is a man there, in the lower left hand corner.

Speech picture showing one trillion dollars

Obviously, if I asked “Which is the audience more likely to remember, the words, or the ‘change up’ of dramatic images to illustrate the point?”  the answer is simple.

A typical numeric example, transformed into an image which will stick with the audience.

The change up.  It has gotten the attention of major league hitters for years.  Properly used, it can get your audiences’ attention and make your message more memorable.  




Keep Your Audience ‘Off-Balance’ When You Speak ultima modifica: 2014-07-22T23:57:53-04:00 da Michael Davis