The way we interact with each other has been completely redefined by technology. We no longer call our friends to tell them the latest news, but we send them a text, a Facebook message or a tweet.
If we want to congratulate someone on an important milestone, we like or favourite their status update and if we are upset, we vent our anger on social media. Intimate, personal interactions have been replaced by quick-fire, digital messages and reactions. This has had a significant impact on our attention spans and decision-making processes. The attention span of most people is only eight seconds these days, which makes it much harder to grab the attention of the modern consumer and influence their decisions.
Marketing and sales professionals are forced to re-evaluate how they can communicate most effectively with their audiences and ensure the message they want to get across, really sticks. In today’s hyper-connected world, where consumers have short attention spans and are used to instant gratification, messages need to be more than just short and simple to be compelling. They need to be genuine and create an emotional connection with the recipient, which means one-dimensional presentations and pitches will become a thing of the past. Today’s winning formula of successful pitches is made up of emotions and trust.
Emotions lead to action
Emotions define people’s characters and shape their personalities. A sad movie, a happy song or an outrageous statement by a politician all make us feel genuinely involved in the activity we are undertaking, and sometimes even trigger us to take action. We rarely – if ever – manage to make a connection on such a deep level if no emotions are involved. The general consensus is that people can feel 6 basic emotions: Anger, disgust, happiness, sadness, surprise and fear.
A successful pitch tells a coherent story, so marketers should pick a dominant emotional theme for their presentation depending on what kind of response they want to trigger. That’s not to say that pitches need to be heart-breaking, deliberately euphoric or maddeningly angering in order to be successful. But marketing professionals should keep them in mind when preparing their presentations if they want to connect with their audience on a deeper level and initiate that important decision-making process.
Trust leads to conclusions
However, initiating this process is only half the battle won. The next, and equally-crucial step is to get people to commit to taking action. We are inherently critical beings, which means just telling us what to do is rarely enough to convince us to actually do it. We like facts and figures, stats and evidence that support us in our decision-making process. This validation is important and marketing professionals should be aware of this when creating their presentations.
As important as emotional storytelling is, the overall call to action needs to be underpinned by sound reasoning. Not only does it get people to take action, it also builds a rapport between marketing professionals and their audiences. If a presentation is supported by facts, people are much more likely to trust the presenter and take on board any suggestions or recommendations they might have.
Pitching is no exact science and there will always be new and improved ways of doing things. But one thing is clear: the time for marketing professionals to abandon old-school presentation styles and move to a more genuine, interactive and engaging form of presenting has come. By telling a story and underpinning it with strong facts, marketing professionals will develop a new kind of relationship with their audience that is built on trust and a strong emotional connection.
By Spencer Waldron, European Regional Director, Prezi