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Personalizing your opening to your audience

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A great way to Grab 'Em By The Throat is to personalize your opening, which shows that you've given the audience/location/day some thought and aren't just delivering the same old, canned presentation you give to everybody else. There are 3 main ways you can do this. You can personalize to Ute audience itself (their company, profession, nationality, etc.), with time (i.e. to the day or week) or with location (i.e. the building/town/region/country you're presenting in). In this article I want to talk about using time.

First (and pretty obviously), identify the date you're going to give the presentation, and visit one of the many web sites that tells you what happened on that day in history (e.g.http://on-this-day.com, www.datesinhistory.com or www.history.com/this-day-in-history). Better still, visit several; they don't all have the same content. You'll see a whole range of things, some relating to science, some to sports, some to politics, even famous people's birthdays.

Let's say you were presenting something to do with a new product/technology and look at a few examples of how to do it.

This article was first put online on May16, so let's look at personalizing to that date. There a few ways you could try to find a personalized link.

First, you could try to find other new products/technologies that were launched on May 16 and say:

"I have a little thing pops up on my computer every morning when I check my emails, telling me what happened on this day in history, and I thought that this morning's was not just interesting, but also very relevant to what I'm going to talk to you about today.

On May 16 in 1888 Emile Berliner demonstrated the first ever recording on a flat disc. In 1946, Jack Mullin showed the world the first ever magnetic tape recorder. In 1960, Theodore Maiman demonstrated the world's first working laser. In 1992, the Endeavor space shuttle landed safely after its maiden voyage. And in 1965, Spaghetti-Os went on sale for the first time.

So May 16 has been an auspicious date for the launching of revolutionary new products and technologies. Which is auspicious, because today I'm going to introduce you to our latest product, the XYZ, which we will believe will revolutionize our industry and save you millions ....."

Secondly, you could take one of the features or benefits of the new product and look for a linked individual event and talk about it in more detail. Let's say the product in question is a small piece of software.

".... relevant to what I'm going to talk about today.

  Jumko Tabei

The photograph onscreen is of a Japanese lady named Juno Takei. Junko stands at only 4 feet 11 inches tall, and during her childhood suffered from weak lungs. But she refused to let this get in the way of her love of mountain climbing and in 1975 joined an all-woman Japanese team to attempt to climb Everest.

At one point she was buried alive by an avalanche and lay unconscious for some time before being dug out of the snow by a sherpa guide. Yet despite this - something that would have sent a lot of climbers back to base camp - she persevered. She led the expedition on, sometimes crawling on her hands and knees, and eventually, on May 16 - this day in history - became the first woman to reached the summit of the highest mountain in the world.

She is also the first woman to climb the 'Seven Summits' - the highest mountain on all seven continents and now in her 70s, still climbs every chance she gets. She's less than 5 feet tall, but has the determination and guts of someone half as big again.

Why am I telling you this? Because she reminds me of our new product XYZ. It's only a small piece of software, but the effect it will have on your company will be out of all proportion to its size ...."

Sticking with the 'impact out of all proportion to its size' theme, you could have used this instead:

".... relevant to what I'm going to talk about today.

Because it was on this date in 1804 that the French Senate declared Napoleon Bonaparte Emperor of France. Napoleon totally dominated Europe politically and militarily for two decades, and has become a worldwide icon symbolizing military genius and political power.

He's been the subject of thousands of books, films and articles, yet the bogeyman who terrorized the other nations of Europe and who was used by British mothers to frighten their naughty children was only about 5 feet 7 inches tall. He had a global impact out of all proportion to his physical stature.

Why am I telling you this? Because he reminds me of our new product XYZ. It's only a small piece of software, but the effect it will have on your company will be out of all proportion to its size ...."

A third example of how to stick with this same theme is as follows:

".... relevant to what I'm going to talk about today.

Because it was on this day in 1955 that Rocky Marciano KO'd Don Cockell in round 9 in San Francisco to retain his title as Heavyweight Champion of the world. Rocky Marciano retired the following year as the world's only undefeated Heavyweight Boxing Champion, an achievement that still stands today. He had 49 fights and won every single one, 43 of them with knockouts.

Rocky Marciano

For a heavyweight, he was small, at just under 5'11", and he weighed only 185 lbs (13st 3lb), but he probably brought more heart into the boxing ring than any fighter in the history of the sport. He overcame his relative physical shortcomings with a willingness to endure as much punishment necessary to defeat his opponent. Seemingly impervious to pain, he was willing to take three or four punches in order to land one, his famous right-hand haymaker known as the 'Suzy-Q'.

So determined was his relentless pursuit of victory that nothing - and I mean nothing - would stop him. He was never defeated.

Why am I telling you this? Because he reminds me of our new product XYZ. It's not the biggest piece of software you'll ever see, but I promise you the effect it will have on your company will be out of all proportion to its size ...."

The third approach is when nothing jumpstarts your imagination, and you can't think of a way to use any of the events. There are two things you can do (actually there's a third; you could postpone the presentation to a date when there is an obvious link, but even I think that's going a bit far).

Firstly, you can look at the dates a few days either side until you find something you can use, and simply refer to 'this WEEK in 1922/55/76/83, etc' instead of 'today.'

Secondly, you can just use several of the most interesting/amusing/esoteric events even though there's no link, by saying:

"I have a little thing pops up on my computer every morning when I check my emails, telling me what happened on this day in history, and I noticed this morning that May 16 has been a very busy day over the years.

In 1527, Florence drove out the ruling Medici family and established a republic. In 1862, Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir built 1st automobile.

  Wings poster

In 1879, Russia and England signed the Treaty of Gandamak which founded the state of Afghanistan. In 1929 the first Academy Awards were given out (in case you're curious, the best movie award went to 'Wings' a silent movie about WWI fighter pilots). In 1965 Spaghetti-O's went on sale for the first time, and in 1986 Bobby Ewing came back from the dead in the soap opera 'Dallas.'

So May 16 is a date to be remembered for many things. But I think you'll remember it .... as the day you first heard about XYZ, a new product we think is about to revolutionize our industry ...."

That's FIVE ways you could talk about a new product/technology, ALL taken from ONE DAY - May 16 - chosen not because it made my job easier, but purely because it's the day this article was put online.

SO ....... next time you're presenting, have a go at personalizing your opening with the date; it'll really Grab 'Em By The Throat!

 

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