Communication Skills: Amplify Your Message Through Contrast

When coming up with content for your presentations, try brainstorming ideas around polar opposites such as these:

  • The past and present vs. the future
  • Need vs. fulfillment
  • Speed vs. endurance
  • Ambition vs. humility
  • Stagnation vs. growth
  • Roadblocks vs. clear passage
  • Sacrifice vs. reward
  • Budget vs. quality

Suppose you manage an airline’s maintenance division, and you’re asking for money to invest in analytics. Here’s a pair of opposites you might explore as you figure out how to make your case:

You can share customer complaints by saying, “We’re getting low ratings on customer surveys because of flight delays and missed connections due to simple maintenance issues.” and then contrast that with a picture of what customer satisfaction could look like, saying, “What if we could better schedule our planes’ maintenance by digging into our repair data?”

After that, dive deeper into the source of customer complaints by stating, “We currently follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule—and it’s not sufficient. Planes get held up at the gate while mechanics do routine repairs.” and then demonstrate how analytics would help improve customer satisfaction by saying, “By tracking and studying how often we actually perform certain kinds of repairs, we can create a schedule that’s more realistic. We’ll be able to prevent problems instead of fixing them when they pop up.”