How to Win Over Your Audience? Be Unexpected

January 12, 2015

slideshare-images-unexpected-blogOver the holiday break, my wife and I took Southwest Airlines to visit family in San Diego – the choice of airline was one of love/hate. Their low fares are great, but we are seated like cattle. However, love them or hate them, one element of their service I never get tired of are their announcements.

Here are a few examples of their personality:

"We love you. You love us. We're much faster than the bus. We hope you enjoy our hospitality. Marry one of us and you'll fly free."

"Sit back. Relax. Enjoy our hospitality. Or you can sit up and be tense, that choice is yours."

"Position your seat belt tight and low across your hips, like my grandmother wears her support bra."

So, why do people enjoy this so much?

It’s unexpected.

When thinking about your next presentation for this year, I want you to look for opportunities to do the same -- to be unexpected.


Let’s break this down in more detail:

The Element of Surprise

Think about some of your favorite movies or television shows. I absolutely love the TV series Friday Night Lights. It’s five seasons of solid scriptwriting, acting, and cinematography. It basically showcases the life of a high school football coach and his ups and downs with his Dillon Panthers football team. Without giving away too much for those of you who have not seen the show, a reversal happens at the end of Season 3, where Seasons 4 and 5 are almost a completely different show. It’s still the same quality television program but it takes a direction you never expected. It’s exciting. It’s engaging. It’s completely surprising.

Love the Gaps


Humans love to think in patterns. Your objective as a presenter? Break them. You want to create gaps by posing questions or even allowing moments of silence to create a disruption. You are then presented with an opportunity to fill those gaps with your knowledge and expertise. This discovery process then creates an element of unexpectedness for your audience.

Facts First

Similar to the above, Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, recommend that you lead with facts. They encourage us to look at the local news where an anchor may lead with something like:

"There's a new drug sweeping the teenage community -- and it may be in your own medicine cabinet! The story after these ads."

It’s simple. It’s powerful. And, it creates an amazing gap where unexpectedness soon follows.

If there is only one thing you remember from this post, remember this:

Humans love to be surprised. If you can be unexpected, you’ll win their hearts.

Author Bio

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO ofEthos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run. Scott lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs. He has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University.

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