When asked, “What’s your presentation about?” most people answer with a phrase like “Software updates.” That’s not a big idea; it’s a topic (because there’s no clear point of view, and no stakes).

Change it to something like, “Your department needs to update its workflow management software,” and you’re getting clearer. You’ve added your point of view, but the stakes still aren’t clear. So try this instead: “Your department will struggle to meet key production deadlines until we update the workflow management software.”

Here’s another great example. If you say your presentation is about “the Florida wetlands,” that’s also just a topic. Add your point of view and what’s at stake. For instance: “We need to restrict commercial and residential development in Florida’s wetlands, because we’re destroying the fragile ecosystem there and killing off endangered species.”

People will move away from pain and toward pleasure. In the previous example, it prods them (with words like “struggle” from the first example; “destroying” and “killing” from the second) so they feel uncomfortable staying in their current position. Lure them toward your idea with encouragement and rewards, which in this case was the promise of meeting deadlines; protection of endangered species.

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