Of S.T.A.R.s and Mosquitoes

In our slide:ology training seminars we teach people about S.T.A.R Moments. S.T.A.R. stands for “Something They’ll Always Remember” and S.T.A.R. Moments refer to the memorable moments in a presentation that stick in the minds of your audience long after the presentation is over.

You know, it’s the “I have a dream” phrase in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech.  It’s that “oh, and one more thing” dramatic moment that Steve Jobs incorporates into his memorable keynotes. It’s the thing—repeated phrase, prop, emotional moment, etc.—that they’ll remember from your presentation and be talking about at the water cooler the next day.

In a recent presentation to the TED community, Bill Gates utilized a S.T.A.R. Moment to help his audience identify with people who suffer from the mosquito-spread disease Malaria.

“Now, Malaria is, of course, transmitted by mosquitoes,” said Gates. “I brought some here so you could experience this.” Unscrewing the lid to the mosquito-filled jar, he continued, “We’ll let those roam around the auditorium a little bit. There’s no reason that only poor people should have the experience.”

Bill Gates Releases Mosquitoes at TED 2009

Bill Gates Releases Mosquitoes at TED 2009

It was clear from the nervous laughter and delayed applause that the audience got the message. Bloggers began typing furiously and it was not long before the mainstream press picked the story up and circulated news of how Gates released a “swarm of mosquitoes.” It was so memorable and powerful that Gates (who did not exactly receive a warm reception the last time he was at TED) was given a standing ovation.

You want to be remembered. You want investors, or a committee, or customers to remember you when it comes time to make a decision. Consider putting a S.T.A.R. Moment into your presentation so that you stand out from the monotonous masses. Perhaps it will be a swarm of mosquitoes. Perhaps it will just be a part of your presentation where you turn off your slides and speak directly to your audience from your heart.

Whatever it is you choose, make sure that it will leave a lasting impression in the minds of your listeners, not their bloodstreams.

Other presentations with S.T.A.R. Moments:
John Doerr (emotional moment)
Jill Bolte Taylor (prop)
Steve Jobs – iPod Nano introduction (theatrical demonstration)

More information about the Duarte and TED connection.

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