Dumb it down anyway

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How do you boil down the 500 points you want to communicate to the three your prospects want to hear?

On our websites, in our presentations, and in our sales materials, most of us over communicate to our prospects. Maybe it’s because we want to cast a wide net hoping “something will hit.” We pound our audience with every possible angle, throwing the net so wide something in the pile will resonate.

This is an awful way to communicate to humans. Humans just don’t absorb dozens of points. Your customers brain will not grow bigger because you have a high stakes sale or a complex proposition. Numerous research studies show communications built around a single big idea are vastly more effective than those built around a list of topics.

So what do you do if you have 98 points and a service or technology that cannot be dumbed down to three big points? DUMB IT DOWN ANYWAY. You can always put your pile of detailed information in an appendix, a web link or leave behind and invite your audience to review if they wish.

A simple framework I have found useful for “boiling down” a large presentation is to answer these three questions in the first 90 seconds of your presentation:

What’s the big idea?
What is the movement, the gravity, the change or vision the audience can see themselves in? Remember if your big idea isn’t THEIR big idea it isn’t a big idea.

Why should they care?
This is about the impact of your big idea on their world. What bad thing is your audience going to avoid, or what specifically is gained by adopting your proposition? Don’t use vague platitudes here(optimize, enhance) try to boil it down to something clear and definite.

How are you(your team product) going to pull it off?
This provides a simple overview for the detail you will(judiciously) cover in your discussion. Providing a small set of buckets(legs of work, feature sets, processes or strategies)that will help you collect details around the big legs of work you’ll use to execute your idea. Most people do not need every detail, just enough of the framework to understand how you are going to get it done.

If you think, you might need to communicate more detail,  make the details accessible via a web link, or leave behind. In a face to face sales presentation, you can ask your audience if they want additional detail instead of forcing them through it
As odd as it sounds dumbing down your communications is more likely to be received as more intelligent and more confident than trying to deliver every synapse that fires in your brain.
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