Stand Out

On the Golf Course…

Who has the harder time finding their golf ball on the course – you or me? It's a trick question because I don't golf. But if I did, I'd win. You know why? Well the first reason is likely because I'd barely hit it in front of me (like 30 – 50 feet) – making it very easy to find. You, on the other hand, likely would shank it sideways and go looking in people's backyards, right? Come on, I know you!

In this hypothetical discovery of lost golf balls the reason I'd have an easier time is because I would never buy a white golf ball. Because everyone golfs with white golf balls. And that would confuse me. I'd want to use a different colored ball so it would stand out – making it easier for me to find it.

The Main Point

It's a pretty simple concept: when you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to surprise them. You will never surprise anyone by doing what everyone else is doing.

Applying Contrast to Presentations

What I want to do today is just give you three simple ways to stand out when presenting – from the context of the conference I was just at: Pressnomics.

Your Story:

The other day I watched about 6 presentations in a single day. When that happens I notice something else happens: all the presentations blur together. They're so similar that they often feel like a band's album where I'm hearing the same song over and over (even though they're different).

How do you do things differently? Tell a different story. Take a different angle on your content. This past weekend, a friend (Cory Miller), presented a talk to a bunch of entrepreneurs. But he didn't tell them that business is war. He didn't tell them how to optimize their business. Nope, instead he talked about family. Yup – family. He used words like love and care. He took such a different approach that of course he stood apart from everyone else.

So tell a different story that everyone else.

Your Set Up & Substance:

Another presentation helped ZenDesk CEO (Mikkel Svane) stand out from everyone else. But not because of his story – which was a classic “we didn't know how we were going to scale until we suddenly got venture capital” story. But clearly his prep was different than most. Partly it was because he has had to create these kind of presentations far more often than the rest of the presenters at the conference. But regardless of the reason, Svane showed up not just with slides, but with two videos. His substance was different. He had a polished presentation and he knew where and how to roll in his videos. And because no one else used videos, his presentation stood apart from everyone.

So use different medium than everyone else.

Your Style:

The first presenter on Thursday was someone I didn't know. But that didn't matter. I'll likely never forget his presentation. Why? Because he had no slides (different set up & substance). But more than that. His style was different. He was brash. Now I'm not saying I liked the presentation. But I won't forget it. You may not like red golf balls, but that doesn't mean you'll have trouble finding them on the golf course. Remember, the point is standing out. And if everyone is polite, then having someone a bit brash will stand out. On the other hand, if everyone is expecting fast-talking brash presenters, developing a calm and conservative persona may be the way to go.

So develop a style that sets you apart.