Positive word of mouth spreads your presentation message

by Peter Watts

The movie “Avatar” is well on it’s way to becoming one of this highest grossing movies of all time.

Avatar absorbs its audience into a wrap-around world of story-telling and imagery. When director James Cameron set out to create Avatar, his mission was to change the way that movies are made, and he succeeded.

What has been peculiar about the Avatar success however is the relatively low-key marketing that went ahead of it. Compare it to the pre-launch hype of a “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings” for example, and Avatar’s marketing machine seemed almost silent. So what is that has propelled the crowds at the box-office?

The answer is “word-of-mouth”. The film, with its compelling story-line, has launched a chain-reaction of positive commentary. It is almost impossible to see Avatar without then telling as many of your friends and family as possible that they too have to be a part of the experience, one that is encapsulated by the fact that this is the first movie in a longtime where as the closing credits roll, the audience are on their feet applauding!

So what does the Avatar experience have to do with the activity of presenting?

Avatar reminds us of how powerful word-of-mouth can be. A simple message, when passed from person to person, will spread like wildfire. As presenters, we need to ensure we are crafting a message clear enough, and simple enough to spread in the same way.

For a message to spread it has to be short and to the point. It can feel a little daunting to continuously edit and refine your slides and words, pursuing a simple headline that your audience will grasp, believe, and then spread. We take security from the weight of the information we bring to a presentation but frequently it is this very weight that drags our presentations down.

Beware of facts and figures. Quite rightly we include them to back-up our case, but at the risk of losing sight of the case itself. The denser your “evidence”, and the more packed into the presentation it is, the more your audience will drift away from the point.

To have an Avatar experience, with your message spreading out like a fire across a savannah, challenge yourself to say less, not more, and let that message surge through loud and clear.

And go see “Avatar”. You’ll be amazed!

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