The TV presenter spoke passionately. Her charisma is well-known. We listened. And then the fundraiser stood up to speak…
I was recently at an event where we heard these two presentations.
Both were intelligent and articulately argued, but one of them made a far bigger impact on the audience.
Question: Which one?
Answer: The presentation given by the fundraiser.
Whereas the first speaker interested us, the second speaker influenced how we felt, changed our understanding and made us more likely to go and take action.
I know this to be true because a) every person I spoke to after the presentations at the end told me that the fundraiser’s talk had really helped them see the issue differently, and b) at the end of both talks, there was a Q and A. All of the five questions we had time for were directed at the fundraiser (including one person who stated there and then that she wanted to discuss a partnership with the fundraiser’s charity – she was so keen that she wanted to exchange cards there and then, during the Q and A.)
Why was this speaker more persuasive?
One answer is in a story that David Ogilvy once wrote about two famous orators of the ancient world… ‘When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip’’.
My question for you is, when you prepare a pitch or presentation, or what you might say in a meeting with supporter, are you asking yourself ‘what information could I give about my topic?’ Or are you asking yourself ‘what could I say that would help them be more likely take action?’ Asking the second question will already make a big difference to what you include, and crucially, what you leave out.
But how exactly was the fundraiser’s content different to that of the other speaker?
There are several differences, but the single biggest difference is that the fundraiser included six stories in their talk and the other speaker included told only one. I know because I counted them.
When coaching fundraisers before pitches and presentations, I have found that a really simple predictor of the persuasiveness of a talk is the number of concrete, relevant examples (stories) the presentation includes. (Note, they don’t all need to be five minute Jackanory-like case studies. In fact I’d rather they weren’t. They are often just one or two sentence summaries (what Anthony Robbins calls big fat claims) that back up whatever logical point you are making.
If you’d like more ideas to help your story telling skill, I recommend Ken Burnett’s excellent new book, Story-telling can change the world and if specifically you’d like to convey the impact of your charities work more effectively, this story includes the secret I discovered from the philanthropy advisor of Coutt’s private bank.