Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Beginning And The End Of Narrative.

In school, they teach you that the most important parts of essays are the introduction and the conclusion. They even suggest you compose them after you've completed the rest of the argument so that the whole thing flows. Performers know all about this, but many business people seem to have forgotten it.

The most obvious manifestations for me have been innumerable presentations that start and/or end apologetically. Too often, the start is either a fumbled vote of thanks for a pointless, overblown introduction or that interminable rundown of what's about to be presented. The end amazingly is either the self-effacing "that's all I've got to say" or a re-run of that interminable rundown of what's just been presented.

This in an industry where narrative is so loudly touted. So, time for a couple of performers to remind us how to do it.

From Bill Hicks, here's all you need to know about the opening.

"NEVER ask the audience “How You Doing?” People who do that can’t think of an opening line. They came to see you to tell them how they’re doing, asking that stupid question up front just digs a hole. This is The Most Common Mistake made by performers. I want to leave as soon as they say that."

In other words, begin like you know where you're going and take your audience with you. Don't ask them a question, remind them of one they want to answer and then tell them how you can answer it.

And from Chris Rock, here's the way to end.

That's not the best example of the mic drop (there's one TV special where I'm sure the camera lingers on it on the stage), but you get the message. There's nothing more to say, it's all been said and there will unequivocally not be a diluting and embarrassing encore.

In other words, end on your terms. Get your points across, have the confidence that that's more than sufficient and don't be tempted to tag on some parent company logo or rushed details of some new discount.

And don't think that this has just been about presentations. These errors pervade all forms of communication and marketing.