Every speaker dreads the signs of audience disengagement. They appear nine minutes and 59 seconds into the presentation, according to academic researcher and best-selling author of Brain Rules John Medina.
That’s when people’s brains need an emotional charge, something different from the rest of the talk yet integral to the topic. Medina calls them “soft breaks”, and he says they’re required every 10 minutes if you want to keep things lively.
Visual narratives – or comics for communicators, if you will - make ideal soft breaks, inviting them to identify with the issues you can solve. Show your audience a single panel or short multi-panel narrative and watch them get involved. (Here's a quick example http://bit.ly/1CrM5Va) Then pull them back to your presentation by asking: "When have you felt like this?"
I collaborate with you to develop characters and events that dramatize and humanize key segments of your presentation. These scenarios use emotional triggers to reinforce ideas you've already conveyed.
I'm no artist, but I'd like to show you how the visual language of comics can efficiently communicate about problems your customers may not yet have fully grasped. That's often the case with disruptive products.
Let's pretend - and I'm making up this whole scenario - you are introducing a new biochip that runs just as many samples, at the same precision and accuracy, as the competition. Your chip has one big advantage. It comes with a compressor device that allows the user to miniaturize the chip and conveniently file it away after the test. That's important, because in your customer's line of research, sometimes samples tested in one chip need to be harvested and retested in another. Hence the importance of tracking the 100s of 1,000s of chips used in a year. Perhaps storage of used chips is not today's hot button issue, mostly because a solution has been out of reach.
Here's where a Narrative Snapshot can make your point more vividly than words alone. In the words of cartoonist Roy Paul, "The strength of an editorial cartoon lies in it's analogy. The best editorial cartoons do not depict a problem in literal terms. They liken it to something else and invite readers to stretch their imaginations."
You've probably been there yourself. You've watched the dramas unfold. Maybe, you've even been the guy or gal who stands on the stage delivering a two-minute pitch to the row of VCs in front of you.
And, you probably remember their questions:
"As an investor, I'm still a little confused. Help me understand why you're different? Who's your customer and why would they want to pay you?"
How mortifying to confront the fact one's 10 slide deck failed at its most fundamental purpose--clarifying the value proposition.
The problem, I believe, is that many pitches rely on facts, flow charts, and lists of product features to make a lasting impression in a short time. We all know telling a story humanizes these abstractions, but illustrated scenes have the power to solidify your customer's dilemma in the minds of investors in a way words alone can not. So, expend resources up front drawing the perfect picture. Then, experience joy when your investors "get it", in under two minutes.