Choosy About Choosing

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 1 comments

choosy“CEOs make many decisions every day, and 50% of them are made in less than 9 minutes”.

This research is cited by Sheena Lyengar, a psycho-economist who gives a fascinating presentation on the ‘choice overload problem’ that we so often experience when making decisions. Not only a fascinating message, it is also a great example of practising what she is passionate about: “Less is more”.

http://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_choosing_what_to_choose.html

Sheena’s presentation is clear, concise and thought-provoking. She uses some of the techniques we do when creating presentations. There are good case studies to support her stories (a powerful and highly effective tool) and those of you who have been on my courses will understand why they appeal to me so much!  And there is one case study with a very clear value proposition: ‘Increase sales and reduce cost’.

Most of her visuals are also good, particularly the graphs. One is a really good example of how to present data on a graph: first, show only the axis, and then, on a build, the data appears in harmony with her narration. She also excels at not reading the text on the visuals.

It is so common, particularly when a bid team is involved in creating content for a pitch presentation, to put too much information into it. Just think how often you have seen a team working late into the night on the eve of a major pitch, and they keep coming up with suggestions of more content instead of rehearsing… Sheena’s comment of, ‘get rid of extraneous and redundant options’ rings so true with this, as she goes on to say ‘we cannot handle a lot of the information that we think we can’. This links so closely to the research on cognitive load (and the pitfall of ‘overload’), and the limitation of working memory.

A technique I believe that is highly engaging when delivering presentations is to use rhetorical questions, and to use them in a positive manner. Audiences can then associate the message with their issues and opportunities. Sheena uses this when she says, ‘think about the positives of your choice…’ and backs it up with research showing that decision makers were 20% more likely to buy when they have thought about the positives.

I applaud her advice to ‘make it real’, and the tip that I would give to Sheena is to make it real but more importantly, make it relevant. When you do get the golden opportunity to pitch to a CEO on a major initiative, make it relevant, and  be very choosy; only give them five key benefits of why they should choose you in a time much less than nine minutes.

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1 Comment to Choosy About Choosing

  1. #1

    Ronan Kinahan

    5:47 pm, May 1st, 2012

    Chas
    Terrific insight on all counts -nice one Chas