Delivery Message Video

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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  • ade

    Nice blog Eric.

    Now I have to go and think of what will be my S.T.A.R. Moment in my next presentation. Sadly the only mosquitoes in my area lethal malaria infested ones!

    Maybe Bill Gates ought to start a program to inter-breed the malaria free mosquitoes with the infected ones. Who knows in time, all of them might become malaria free.

  • ade

    Nice blog Eric.

    Now I have to go and think of what will be my S.T.A.R. Moment in my next presentation. Sadly the only mosquitoes in my area lethal malaria infested ones!

    Maybe Bill Gates ought to start a program to inter-breed the malaria free mosquitoes with the infected ones. Who knows in time, all of them might become malaria free.

  • Dalin

    I always find it kind of ironic how people reference Kings “I Have a Dream” as a STAR moment or well executed moment. He didn’t plan it. It was the start of a complete deviation from the speech. It’s all about being flexible!

  • Dalin

    I always find it kind of ironic how people reference Kings “I Have a Dream” as a STAR moment or well executed moment. He didn’t plan it. It was the start of a complete deviation from the speech. It’s all about being flexible!

  • Ron Quintero

    Dear Nancy and the entire Duarte Team,
    I want to thank you for a life and career changing workshop. If you feel any of my comments would be helpful to share with a person ever questioning the quality or content of the workshop and are not sure if they should commit, please forward this to them.
    A little background to hopefully add a little creditability and at the same time a confession. I have been conducting seminars and workshops since 1994. Actually my first public speaking adventures started back in 1987 holding recruiting workshops every Wednesday evening except holiday weeks for three years . I own a marketing and consulting firm. I am a huge student and raving fan of Six Sigma. In 2008 I conducted over 100 speaking engagements to attorneys, mortgage lenders and Realtors® in over 70 cities throughout the country. At many of my seminars I have said “if you think the cost of education is expensive, TRY IGNORANCE.” I have been flying completely blind.
    I somehow thought because I had conducted so many seminars and have created a darn good living doing it that I must know what I am doing and I must be an expert. Although there are many things I have done right, there is MUCH room for improvement. Currently I conduct 6 to 8 live events per month, a weekly webinar featuring both audio and visual content.
    I shutter to think of the millions of dollars I have literally spent (what currently feels like I wasted) on travel, facilities, marketing, etc. to conduct these events. Not only have I spent the hard dollars to conduct the events, but what I really cringe over in looking back are the missed opportunities. I had to have left as much revenue behind as I have received due to my presentation mistakes. I have committed every presentation violation possible.
    I will never look at a presentation nor even a print advertisement the same again. The best thing you and your team did was to make me put away my computer. It forced me into the moment. The only suggestion I would recommend is to create a little area with cubby holes and encourage people to turn off their cell phones and personal communication devices as well and ONLY allow people to access them during the breaks. That might be as difficult as taking a pacifier from a baby. When my team could not reach me via email, they started texting me. During the lunch break I reflected on the first half content and said to myself, “turn off your cell phone dummy, the challenges and opportunities will be their when this is done but I will miss this if I don’t” so I did.
    I cannot tell you happy and excited I am that it is supposed to rain this Friday through Sunday. I will be in absolute lock down with my grid’s, post it’s, relearning what I thought I knew. I am going to the white board, I am reformatting, reorganizing my message, I am throwing STUFF out that I thought was important and as I reviewed it at the airport last night flying home, well, let’s just say I have some work to do.
    I admire and respect your accomplishments. I read your book and the other book you referenced throughout the workshop twice and I thought beforehand the workshop may be a regurgitation of the book, it was not. You made a few references to the book but I did not know how to SEE what I was READING. At the first break when the person that introduced me to your group, Dave Savage, came up to me and said “so what do you think so far?” I said to him “90 minutes into this and I can leave right now and feel like I got more than my money’s worth, I have some work to do.” It was a LEARNING experience. It was a perfect learning environment, your staff was friendly, polite, helpful, you even fed us. To an ex-Realtor® that is important.  I HIGHLY recommend your workshop to ANYONE wanting to advance their career, anyone that is responsible for group or one-on-one presentations and communication.
    Your Newest Raving Fan,
    Ron Quintero

  • Ron Quintero

    Dear Nancy and the entire Duarte Team,
    I want to thank you for a life and career changing workshop. If you feel any of my comments would be helpful to share with a person ever questioning the quality or content of the workshop and are not sure if they should commit, please forward this to them.
    A little background to hopefully add a little creditability and at the same time a confession. I have been conducting seminars and workshops since 1994. Actually my first public speaking adventures started back in 1987 holding recruiting workshops every Wednesday evening except holiday weeks for three years . I own a marketing and consulting firm. I am a huge student and raving fan of Six Sigma. In 2008 I conducted over 100 speaking engagements to attorneys, mortgage lenders and Realtors® in over 70 cities throughout the country. At many of my seminars I have said “if you think the cost of education is expensive, TRY IGNORANCE.” I have been flying completely blind.
    I somehow thought because I had conducted so many seminars and have created a darn good living doing it that I must know what I am doing and I must be an expert. Although there are many things I have done right, there is MUCH room for improvement. Currently I conduct 6 to 8 live events per month, a weekly webinar featuring both audio and visual content.
    I shutter to think of the millions of dollars I have literally spent (what currently feels like I wasted) on travel, facilities, marketing, etc. to conduct these events. Not only have I spent the hard dollars to conduct the events, but what I really cringe over in looking back are the missed opportunities. I had to have left as much revenue behind as I have received due to my presentation mistakes. I have committed every presentation violation possible.
    I will never look at a presentation nor even a print advertisement the same again. The best thing you and your team did was to make me put away my computer. It forced me into the moment. The only suggestion I would recommend is to create a little area with cubby holes and encourage people to turn off their cell phones and personal communication devices as well and ONLY allow people to access them during the breaks. That might be as difficult as taking a pacifier from a baby. When my team could not reach me via email, they started texting me. During the lunch break I reflected on the first half content and said to myself, “turn off your cell phone dummy, the challenges and opportunities will be their when this is done but I will miss this if I don’t” so I did.
    I cannot tell you happy and excited I am that it is supposed to rain this Friday through Sunday. I will be in absolute lock down with my grid’s, post it’s, relearning what I thought I knew. I am going to the white board, I am reformatting, reorganizing my message, I am throwing STUFF out that I thought was important and as I reviewed it at the airport last night flying home, well, let’s just say I have some work to do.
    I admire and respect your accomplishments. I read your book and the other book you referenced throughout the workshop twice and I thought beforehand the workshop may be a regurgitation of the book, it was not. You made a few references to the book but I did not know how to SEE what I was READING. At the first break when the person that introduced me to your group, Dave Savage, came up to me and said “so what do you think so far?” I said to him “90 minutes into this and I can leave right now and feel like I got more than my money’s worth, I have some work to do.” It was a LEARNING experience. It was a perfect learning environment, your staff was friendly, polite, helpful, you even fed us. To an ex-Realtor® that is important.  I HIGHLY recommend your workshop to ANYONE wanting to advance their career, anyone that is responsible for group or one-on-one presentations and communication.
    Your Newest Raving Fan,
    Ron Quintero

  • ade, Dalin and Ron, Thank so much for your notes!

    ade, yes, it is probably best that your S.T.A.R. moment not literally slay them in the aisles.

    Dalin, you bring up a good point! Technically, a S.T.A.R. moment doesn’t necessarily have to be something planned. For example, if a bird flew in the room during your presentation, it would definitely be something that they would always remember (“remember that bird presentation?” they might say afterward). Obviously you would want to control the memorable moment so that it achieved the affect you wanted. Even if Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t plan that as part of his speech, it is still memorable and is a something that can still inspire us to think about what we can do in our presentations while at the same time showing us that sometimes it makes sense to be flexible enough to go “off script” when necessary. Thanks!

    Ron, Thanks so much. It was great to have you and we are glad that the day was of value. We hope that it will help you achieve even more success than you have already had!

  • ade, Dalin and Ron, Thank so much for your notes!

    ade, yes, it is probably best that your S.T.A.R. moment not literally slay them in the aisles.

    Dalin, you bring up a good point! Technically, a S.T.A.R. moment doesn’t necessarily have to be something planned. For example, if a bird flew in the room during your presentation, it would definitely be something that they would always remember (“remember that bird presentation?” they might say afterward). Obviously you would want to control the memorable moment so that it achieved the affect you wanted. Even if Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t plan that as part of his speech, it is still memorable and is a something that can still inspire us to think about what we can do in our presentations while at the same time showing us that sometimes it makes sense to be flexible enough to go “off script” when necessary. Thanks!

    Ron, Thanks so much. It was great to have you and we are glad that the day was of value. We hope that it will help you achieve even more success than you have already had!

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