The power of the unexpected

Yamini Naidu /

Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

So often we do this with presentations, it’s the same predictable format over and over again. The speaker is introduced glowingly, followed by a smattering of applause. The speaker launches into their presentation, usually with a deck of Power Point slides and then there’s Q & A time at the end…. Yawn.

Imagine breaking the mold and trying something different at your next presentation? Doing something completely unexpected that will help people remember you and your messages.

We saw a great example of this by one of our clients. It was at the company’s annual conference where targets for the next year were normally announced.

Franc, who heads up the Australian region, knew that the targets were going to be a big stretch for the team and he knew that as soon as he communicated the targets their reaction would be, “That is impossible”. He knew that because secretly he had pretty much thought the same thing when he saw the targets.

Franc took the time to consider what his audience’s emotion would be when he delivered his message. Franc did not use a story to address this emotion, he did something that created a story that has been told over and over again throughout the company.

Franc was co-presenting with his sales manager. Upon presenting the targets to the wider group he started reacting with comments like, “That is impossible! We could never achieve that!”, and with that he simply walked out of the door. He left the room and walked out. There were a couple of seconds where people were wondering what was going on but then Franc slowly walked back in, mumbling under his breath but just loud enough for people to hear, “Perhaps we could give those targets a go. When you think about it, there are a few things we could do differently that might help us achieve this”.

By the time Franc arrived back at the front with his co-presenter, he had fast tracked people through their initial reaction of “that is impossible” to being able to talk about how it could probably be.

That entire day consisted of Power Point presentation after Power Point presentation. That day Franc was a hero in more ways than one. He saved everyone from certain death by Power Point. His did the unexpected, and this was the only thing that people remembered and are still talking about two years on.
So how can you harness the power of the unexpected in your next presentation? Not doing so would be insanity.


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