Hans Rosling talks about the magic washing machine. How does he get and keep the audience’s attention?
Washing machine? What does a washing machine have to do with economic growth?
And how do you tie a washing machine into reduction of energy we use? Sounds crazy doesn’t it? If you have a seemingly boring topic, how do you bring it to life? You use the power of the disconnect.
So what is the disconnect?
Let’s say I’m about to talk to y0u about pricing strategy. What are you expecting to hear? Why ‘pricing strategy’ of course! And that’s the biggest reason why I should disconnect. The disconnect instantly wakes you up. Instead of pricing, I’m talking about ‘New Zealand’. Or ‘lampshades’. Or about ‘conveyor belts at airports’. Now you can’t help but pay attention. Now you’re locked into the speech, because frankly, you have no other option.
What helps tremendously, is turning that disconnect into a story
So Hans talks about the washing machine. But he doesn’t restrict to two lines. He builds it up. To quote: “I was only four years old when I saw my mother load a washing machine for the very first time in her life. That was a great day for my mother. My mother and father had been saving money for years to be able to buy that machine. And the first day it was going to be used, even Grandma was invited to see the machine. And Grandma was even more excited. Throughout her life she had been heating water with firewood, and she had hand washed laundry for seven children. And now she was going to watch electricity do that work.
My mother carefully opened the door, and she loaded the laundry into the machine, like this. And then, when she closed the door, Grandma said, “No, no, no, no. Let me, let me push the button.” And Grandma pushed the button, and she said, “Oh, fantastic. I want to see this. Give me a chair. Give me a chair. I want to see it.” And she sat down in front of the machine, and she watched the entire washing program. She was mesmerized. To my grandmother, the washing machine was a miracle.”
There are a few elements to that story that you need to pay attention to…
It’s not just a story. It’s a story that’s building up. There’s a definite sequence and drama. First the washine machine. Then the grandma. Then the mother. Then the grandma. It’s impossible to not be fascinated when the story pulsates with a life of its own. But there’s another side to the story. It’s not just a story.
It’s a story of YOUR life.
You’ve been there before. You’ve had a situation where a new gadget was brought into your home. Maybe a stereo, maybe an iPad, maybe a new computer—some gadget or the other. And in the far recesses of your brain you can remember how you crowded around the gadget in wonder.
That’s what Hans Rosling is using to maximum effect! He’s using the power of your own memory to make the story utterly unforgettable.
So we’ve seen just the start of a great presentation.
In under one minute and thirty three seconds, Hans Rosling and his magic washing machine have the audience rapt with attention. And you can do it too. But let’s go over the few steps that we’ve learned so far.
- Step 1: Disconnect. Surprise the audience with a concept they simply would not have considered.
- Step 2: Tell a story. A story gets the audience’s attention faster than anything else.
- Step 3: Tell a story that’s powerful. (We’ll go into this in the following post).
- Step 4: Tap into the memory banks of your audience to make the story unforgettable.
So how do we make a story unforgettable?
Read the next part in this series. But for now, get yourself a story. Any story. And then let’s work towards making it absolutely unforgettable!
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