Superior Presentations 72: Build your presentation argument on...

Build on what they already know

When you are introducing a new idea or concept to an audience you will have better success if you build on what they already know.

Teachers often review the key points from the last class to start on familiar ground and build upon it.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone he related to objects that people are already familiar with. He even showed an image of a mobile phone with a dial. He did that for two reasons: to get a laugh and to demonstrate that the iPhone was simply the advancement of a familiar tool.

Albert Einstein explained his theory about relativity by using the analogy of a man walking on a moving train. People were familiar with train travel so they felt comfortable listening to the rest of his analogy. That analogy clearly explains the relationship between the speed of light, time and space. (It's worth reading)

When molecular scientist Neils Bohr first described the structure of atoms he used the structure of the solar system as a model. The sun represented the nucleus while the planets symbolized orbiting electrons.

The retention of old skills is often likened to "like riding a bicycle".

This is not about talking down to people. It's about connecting with them by starting with familiar territory and mindset then bridging to where you want to take them.

This technique also helps when persuading people to accept a different way of doing things, especially if you want them to abandon the established norm.

You might start your argument by confessing your past belief in the status quo until an accident provoked you to investigate other possibilities. You fought change but finally accepted the new reality. This approach allows the audience to follow your path of discovery without feeling foolish or defensive.

Introducing new ideas? You can't stand on the other side of the chasm and tell people to jump. If you want to move your audience to new ground you must first go to them and lead them across the bridge.

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