Influential Messaging

3 Steps to Your Most Influential Demo Ever
Influential Messaging

[Updated January 23, 2024]

On a beautiful warm day in Surrey years ago in my psychology class at Farnborough College, a spark ignited a love of learning WHY people think what they think, say what they say and do what they do.

The psychology behind crafting an effective message is what gets me out of bed every day. A bold statement indeed, but to wield the ability to connect successfully with other people feels like a superpower, and one I’m lucky to have.

It’s shaped my whole career, and today, I’m sharing my passion with you. Here’s how I use data, persuasion, ethos, pathos, and logos to reach the goal we’re all trying to achieve: Profit.

Step 1. Bryan Stephenson – Combining Data and Persuasion for Peak Influence

More than 10 years ago, I released myself from the confines of IT and moved into presales, where my passion for customer service and effective messaging flourished. In presales, I found an ever-expanding role where connecting with people is as important or more important than the technology itself.

But you can’t leave out all technical aspects when delivering product tours. Customers demand data, even when that data might be hard to hear.

In 2012 Bryan Stephenson, lawyer and long-time advocate of social and legal injustice, crafted his message around the hard truth millions of Americans face in the justice system with emphasis on its inequality for racial incarceration all wrapped up in America’s unexamined history.

It’s a somber and thoughtful message made more powerful by interwoven stories of his grandmother and Rosa Parks. He made his point clearly and left the audience eager to make sure we learn from his findings and change the future for the better.

“Death penalty in America is defined by error. For every nine people who have been executed, we’ve actually identified one innocent person who’s been exonerated and released from death row. A kind of astonishing error rate — one out of nine people innocent. I mean, it’s fascinating. In aviation, we would never let people fly on airplanes if for every nine planes that took off one would crash. But somehow, we can insulate ourselves from this problem. It’s not our problem. It’s not our burden. It’s not our struggle.”

Bryan Stephenson, Public Interest Lawyer

But it wasn’t a purely emotional talk. Bryan’s presentation contained a wealth of information, statistics and stories. When the 4057 words he used were analysed, he stuck to the most impactful mix of credibility, data and emotion. It  was later voted one of the most ‘persuasive’ talks ever on TED.com.

While the demos we deliver don’t have the same emotional impact or polarizing effect, we still need to deliver a mix of compelling storytelling with evidence-based proof as we talk with our customers. 

This is especially true when we use demo creation software to make automated demos. The goal of these demo videos and interactive product demos is to educate in such a captivating way that potential buyers not only watch it themselves but they send it to others in the buying group. 

This gives buyers a leg up on upcoming sales calls and uncovers hidden stakeholders earlier in the cycle.

Step 2. Aristotle – The Master of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

Widely regarded as the founding father of communication theory, Aristotle’s work on Ethos, Logos and Pathos argues that these 3 aspects should make up every influential message.

What’s more, now research builds on his theory showing 10% Ethos (credibility), 25% Logos (logic/data) and 65% Pathos (appealing to emotion) provide the most impactful connection time and time again.

(In case you’re wondering: Bryan Stephenson’s talk matched these exactly. So if you’re crafting your message using something else, you and your audience are missing out!)

It doesn’t matter if your presentation is 2 minutes or 20 minutes long or whether it’s delivered live or through a sales enablement tool, when you put your message together, remember you should stick to this rule to be persuasive and influential.

10% Ethos

Don’t just talk about why you’re credible; show them. Why should they listen to you? Perhaps you’ve worked with many companies over the years that your listeners can relate to or maybe you’ve collected a lot of authentic reviews on review sites such as G2.

Proving you’re worth listening to doesn’t have to be a list of CV-worthy items, but people love hearing from other customers or people who have been where they are now.

25% Logic

Use statistics, facts and numbers in your presentation. This is the raw data that backs up the message you’re telling.

Just try to center it around something relevant to the people you’re talking to.  If you don’t have any data for their specific pain point, help them connect the dots between the data you do have to their situation.

Bringing people new information about a related subject they’re interested in helps keep them engaged and believe the story you’re telling has meaning and real-world impact.

65% Empathy

This, above all else, is the most important aspect of any presentation or talk. Stories have been the bedrock of our society for 1000s of years so it’s an irrefutable truth that our brains are wired to engage far better with stories than with any other type of message.

People even train themselves to remember the exact order of random number lists or a shuffled deck of cards by telling a story about which card is in which room or shop as they walk down the street  (or the order of the planets or mathematical equations, or anything you need for that test you put off studying for).

Personal stories make people engage more than any other type, so you’ll connect with your audience far better if you take them on a little journey of your own examples. And it’s not just engagement. People will remember the information you deliver more accurately if they can tie it to a story.

Just don’t embellish too much. The human brain is wired to spot authenticity so belief in what you’re talking about also helps – if you don’t believe it yourself, why should someone believe you?

Step 3. Profit

Remember, you can use this effectively to help sell yourself or your products, and you can practice straight away.

When you’re next putting together a presentation, whether it is live or recorded, look at which slides fall into which category: credibility, evidence and emotional appeal. The goal is to get the split to be as close to 10%, 25%, and 65% in the respective areas as possible.

Perhaps you have some that show your company’s stats, profit, employees, etc. Some may reference customers who have experienced similar issues to the ones your customers are facing. Some may walk through how you can address their pains in ways that connect directly to their desired outcomes.

These processes work because they are based on how the human brain understands and recalls information, and how that information is stored by our brains. Today, scientists have proven using MRI machines the blood flow activity in different parts of the brain changes when we listen to stories.

The results are clear; if you want to craft a message with maximum impact, remember the 10%, 25%, 65% rule.

How will you use some of these ideas in your next presentation?

Consensus is Intelligent Demo Automation that scales your presales function.