11 September 2014

3 Simple Presentation Tips From the Simplest Ad Ever Made

Consumers are tired of being bombarded with superfluous information. They are tired because superfluous information distracts them—it doesn’t help them make the decisions brands want them to make. And I’m not only talking about buying decisions. This also holds true when a billboard needs to be noticed, a blog needs to get subscribers and a presentation needs to be remembered. And I could go on forever. 
It’s proven that the best way to get people’s attention is not to give them detailed information, but rather to give them exactly what they need to know. The key to being remembered is simplicity. The reason being, bombarding people with more information is what everybody does, so the only way to stand out is to do things differently. How often did you find it difficult to understand what a website was all about because it included too much information? How often did you struggle getting the message behind a billboard because it was cluttered with unreadable text? The problem I see today is not lack of information, but rather too much of it. So the only way to stand out is to make your message as simple as possible. 
Look at this photo. Would you notice this man if he walked past you? 
Why? Well, because I guess you don’t run into a person with so many piercings every day, right? He stands out. And that’s exactly the point: we are naturally attracted by things that stand out. We notice them.
We are surrounded by solutions which stand out from the crowd because they are different.
  • Apple’s products are successful (also) because they are simple and intuitive 
  • McDonald’s billboards get noticed (also) because they include only one message
  • Google is the world’s number one browser (also) because it uses a lot of white space 
The best example of “less is more” I've recently stumbled upon is the Ivar’s half-second ad from the 2009 Super Bowl.  

Think about it, what does the ad tell you about Ivar? The answer is nothing. It doesn’t tell you anything about the products they make, the price they charge, why they are better than the competition. You see the ad and don’t even know what they do (they are a chain of seafood restaurants). Yet, it received so much attention. Why is this? Because they did something different. Instead of overloading their audience with lots of details, they made a very simple ad—the simplest ever made. And it worked. Of course Ivar took this concept to the extreme. I’m not suggesting that any ads, products or websites should follow that level of simplicity. A good compromise comes from Albert Einstein: “make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

3 Takeaways for Presenters 

There are three lessons presenters can learn from the Ivar’s ad. When preparing your next presentation, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What’s the one message I want my audience to take away? Or the 3 main messages. If you want to stand out, don’t give people 12 reasons why they should support your idea. This concept is called Rule of Three. It simply means that in short-term (working) memory we are only able to process about three pieces of information. According to Carmine Gallo, the rule of three is one of the most powerful concepts in communication theory (more on that here).
2. What’s the minimum amount of information I can share with my audience? Notice that the key word here is “minimum”. Many presenters tend to share as much information as they can think of. If you want to stand out, think carefully about what your audience really need to know, give it to them and ignore the rest.
3. How can I present my idea in as simple a way as possible? It’s not enough to know what to include and what to get rid of. If you want to stand out, you need to present your idea so that even your daughter would understand it. 
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should kill every detail. I’m sure you have lots of invaluable information to share with your audience. What I’m saying is that you should carefully think about what’s valuable to your audience and what’s not and plan your presentation accordingly. Make it as simple as possible, not simpler. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on this article. Meet me over on Google+ or Twitter to join the conversation right now!

Effectiveness and Simplicity via Bryan Dunlop 
Man with piercings via Random Paradise 

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