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Use props for powerful presentations

If you are involved in a customer listening program, you likely deliver lots of presentations to share customer insights. And if you want your audience to take action on the voice of the customer you need them to be engaged. 

This is one of my favorite stories of a high impact presentation as told by Chip and Dan Heath in the book Made to Stick. The key is a clever prop.

Here’s the story…

Art Silverman worked for the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 1992 when he made a shocking discovery about the unhealthy nature of movie popcorn. After conducting a series of tests it was determined that the typical bag of popcorn had 37 grams of saturated fat. Considering that the recommended daily limit was 20 grams, it seemed pretty incredible.

Silverman’s prepared for a presentation where he needed to communicate in the most engaging way possible. Think about it. Most of us probably have shown some sort of graph like this:

I can envision a slide flashed up on a screen and the presenter saying something like, "look, it is almost twice the recommended limit!" The reaction would likely be, "isn’t that interesting," or even "that’s a surprise!"

However, Silverman had a better, more powerful method. Instead of a chart, he had food on display that looked something like this:

He explained that a medium-sized butter popcorn contained as much fat as a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac with fries, and a steak dinner — combined! With such a powerful prop, the reaction was beyond interesting or surprising. Instead it was something like, "you have got to be kidding me," or "we’ve got to do something about this!" And that kind of reaction prompts action.

Action indeed. The story immediately spread and movie theaters were pressured to change the type of oil they used which dramatically reduced health risks. Powerful message, engaged audience, action prompted, results delivered.

So what are your most intriqing customer insights? How can you present customer satisfaction and loyalty data in a powerful way to prompt action and results? For your next presentation, think beyond charts and graphs to really engage your audience.

About the Author

Patrick Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons

As Principal and Senior Vice President of Marketing for Walker, Gibbons has global responsibility for definition, branding, and promotion of the company and its solutions. Gibbons has published and/or contributed to a number of articles, papers, and blogs on customer intelligence topics and has a regular column in CRM Magazine. He has been a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences, and has produced a series of educational events for customer experience leaders.

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