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Make People Listen: Know Your Big Idea

Posted Feb 23 2009 9:42pm

David Ogilvy wrote the book on modern advertising methods. The impact of his pioneering work still registers more than 50 years after he began helping his clients become household names. (How embedded in your mind is Dove Soap, IBM, American Express, Nestle, Liquid Paper...?)

A core principle for great advertising is what Ogilvy called the “Big Idea” and it fits perfectly for meetings and presentations, too. This is why I’m always buzzed to guide my clients through a sequence that will Planning take them there.

How to Get to Your Big Idea

1. Wade through the facts, figures and themes of a topic until you can distill it to the point where it can be expressed in fewer than 10 words.

2. Shape your message around those 10 words.

3. When your audience hears your presentation, what is it you want them to remember above all else?Tell them the name of your Big Idea and that that is what you want them to remembe r.

It Helps You, Too

Why is this useful? For starters, it’s the core of your presentation and the reason you’re speaking in the first place. All of your remarks will focus on The Big Idea. Did you ever wonder how to tie in all of that supporting data your boss insists upon seeing? Simply relate each bit, explicitly, to The Big Idea.

Audiences typically remember as little as 10 percent of a presentation if they are only exposed to the information once. Recall increases with repetition of key words; in this case, The Big Idea.

Think about this: You stand a chance of achieving more of what you want by saying it in 10 words or less.

Synthesize. Your audience will be happy to analyze for you.

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