Can you give me one good reason?

number 1

I was in Malaysia and Singapore this month to give some mini-workshops on sales presentations. During one of the sessions I asked my audience, who was very engaged, to “Give me one good reason” to buy their product.  Most of the attendees struggled to come up with an answer.  I thought it may be an ESL (English as a second language) issue since things get lost in translation, but even the English speaking members were not having an easy time.

I used this “one good reason” exercise when I was discussing the need for a concise, clear message in sales presentations. I thought it would be a good place to start, something everyone could relate to.  But I was wrong, it was not that way at all. Coming up with 10 or 12 reasons why customers should buy their products was not a problem, however coming up with one reason was difficult.  Was this because they knew their products and services so well, in so much depth, that they could not get beyond the specifications, features/benefits mode … a case of “You can’t see the forest for the trees”?  Maybe it was another version of the Curse of Knowledge? (Curse of Knowledge)

This can also happen to presenters. You know your content, your idea, so well that you can’t seem to condense it down to its basic core. The core message of a presentation should answer a simple question: what is your point?  It should give the audience one good reason to act on what you are presenting. It’s been proven that people can only remember a couple of points, not the dozens presenters typically throw at them.

So, if you want one good reason to follow this blog, here it is:  An impactful presentation is key to moving your idea forward (or selling your product).  In this blog I explore how you can create that impact.

Any ideas on how to better help people develop a core message for their presentations?

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring

What’s your point? 4 tips on writing the message for your presentation.



whats your point

Think about the last presentation you attended; what was the presenter’s point?

Designing a presentation around the most important point (the message) greatly increases the chances that the audience will remember it over time. This is why presentation design starts with crafting a clear concise message. One mistake presenters make is to assume an audience can remember multiple “takeaways”. The old saying is true; if everything is important then nothing is important.

I follow a message crafting framework that is taught by Dcode communications ( in their presentation training program called Wavelength. They recommend crafting your message by completing the statement What I really want you to understand is _______ .  The you is the audience for the particular presentation you are working on; the what is the one thing you need them to remember after you finish.

It sounds easy but it isn’t.  A couple years ago my wife asked me to help her design a presentation on writing for (academic) publication; it took a lot of discussion and questions (from me) for her to identify the most important point she wanted the audience to take away. During our discussion her “message” often blended with the learning objectives of the presentation, but there is a difference. For even experienced presenters it can be challenging to boil down the content into a single message; the content supports the message.

Here are my tips for writing a presentation message:

Figure out your point, as in the question, “So what’s your point?” Your point is not your goal – your goal for the presentation is the result of the audience understanding, and acting on, your point.

Try and write your message in one clear and concise sentence, “What I really want you to understand is …”. If you are a Twitter user, think of it as a 140 character tweet.

Use the words “you or your” in the message. (Remember the You factor from a previous blog)

Don’t assume your message is obvious – is it obvious for everyone in the audience?

State your message early and late in your presentation but don’t actually say “What I really want you to understand is…” Design everything in your presentation (content and visuals) around supporting your message. As the folks at Dcode say, “Presentation is driven by message, not content.”

So remember, presentation design starts with crafting a clear concise message. Designing your presentation around your message will greatly increase the chance that your audience will remember it long after you leave the room.

What do you think?


Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring

Try writing a logline for your next presentation

A dashing archaeologist must reunite with the ex he dumped if he is to beat the Nazis to find the all-powerful lost Ark of the Covenant.  

Do you recognize this? It describes the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark; that is its logline.  Loglines are used by screenwriters to describe their film’s story in a sentence or two; the rule is 27 words or less. A logline answers the question, “So, what’s your film about?”

Screenwriters create a logline at the beginning of the writing process in order to test their story concept.  They need to break down a complex book or story into simple components in order to fit the length of the average movie.  If the story concept cannot be clearly communicated in 27 words, it is likely too complicated to fit into the typical movie timeline.

Another reason to write a logline at the beginning of a project is that the logline will provide a basic framework to follow; it can keep the screenwriter on track during the writing of the script.  A good logline should answer the following four questions: who is the story about, what do they want, what’s keeping them from getting it, and what’s at risk.

If we apply these four questions to presentation design we can ask: who is the audience, what does the audience need/want, what problem is being addressed, and what happens if the audience doesn’t accept/implement my idea, concept or product.

Here is the logline for a presentation I give called “A Presentation about Presentations”.

When presenters make important presentations they must overcome the risk of “death by PowerPoint” in order to ensure their presentation will have an impact.

Writing a logline before you design your presentation will help keep you on track to make sure you deliver the message you intend.  It will also help you stay in storytelling mode rather than “data-dump” mode.

So, what’s your presentation about?

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring


For more information about writing a logline visit