November 22, 2010

Brands. Door. Money.



I, like many people these days, DVR as much of my TV watching as possible, in order to avoid commercials. But from time to time, I catch a glimpse of something as I'm fast-forwarding through them that makes me stop and watch. Yes, I actually choose to watch an occasional commercial.

TV commercials are mini-presentations. Each commercial is trying to get a message across and influence those watching to do something, whether it's buy (most commercials), join or give.

Just like presentations, some commercials are engaging, some are boring, some are just idiotic. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking and some leave us angry.

But one thing all commercials have in common is their brevity. Commercials range from 15 seconds to a minute, with the majority falling into the 30-second range. You struggle to get your message across in ten minutes or an hour? Commercials don't have that luxury (when they do, they're called infomercials, but that's not what I'm addressing here).

What's the difference between your presentation and a commercial? Not much. Both must engage, inform, influence, and entertain. People act out stories in commercials, and presenters tell stories. Both use visuals, sometimes but not always.

Presenters can learn a lot from commercials, especially about getting your message across in a concise and brief manner.

Here's a favorite for brevity and conciseness. There's nothing superfluous here. There's no confusion about the main points or message. Visuals are simple and so is content. And yet, it catches your attention with both its simplicity and its originality. And it's only 15 seconds long.



What commercials have going for them is that those who produce them are expected to be creative and imaginative. Creativity is not only expected but welcomed and celebrated. This is not the case with many presentations, whose producers seem to believe that there is no place for creativity in a business setting. Hence the dry and boring presentations we are subjected to on a daily basis.

What can you learn from TV commercials and implement in your presentations?

How can you apply creative ideas and ingenuity to your presentations so they don't blend in with every other drab presentation your audiences are victims of?

How can you use brevity and conciseness to get your most critical points across with nothing extraneous or irrelevant to cloud your message?

What commercials have you enjoyed as good presentation models?

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