Jul 6, 2022

How to Persuade While Moving Fast

How to Persuade While Moving Fast

How to Persuade While Moving Fast

Nathan King

No one makes money by waiting for perfection. First versions of products notoriously demonstrate that truth. The first version of the iPhone didn't even have copy paste. Barbaric.

It's the Good Enough, not the Perfect, that results in revenue generation.

Successful business executives and entrepreneurs get their work out into the world imperfectly. They've adopted a value, monetize the first draft. The best draft can come later.

Action more likely leads to success than revision.

Business people cultivate a bias for action. This leads to an acceptance of imperfect products, services, and projects. But they go too far, relying on incomplete ideas even when something more is needed.

The First Draft Has a Job

Professional writers distinguish the concept of a first draft from a final draft to acknowledge a tolerance for the imperfect. Otherwise, a second paragraph couldn't be written because the first paragraph would be refined and refined before going on. There will be a second draft, and success won't depend on the first version.

Often times writers get stuck tinkering because they have in their mind perfection.

The result? They don't finish anything. A writer for writers named Ann Lamott recommends a simple mental tool for those who become trapped in that mindset. She suggests that they focus on creating a "Shitty First Draft" (SFD) so that they can get something into the world.

By aiming for the imperfect, something gets done.

Successful business people have made the concept of the SFD habitual at an unconscious level. It is a way of being.

But the First Draft Isn’t the Only Job

Another way of saying that a habit is a way of being is that when all I have is a hammer, everything is a nail. The hammered object most painful to look at is the PowerPoint presentation. If PowerPoint is a canvas for the "art of business," most completed presentations only show the outlines of the work – they lack color and detail.

My favorite satirical example of a PowerPoint is the rendering of the Gettysburg address in PowerPoint: what if Lincoln had created his most remembered address as a series of slides? Here's a sample:

It illustrates the reliance on a base structure as an almost finished piece of content. The author only has to supply a few bullet points and move on. Action over revision.

The downside of such work is that it has limited capacity to persuade many people.

The audience must persuade itself. The power of the presentation rests on the strength of the idea, and the credibility the author brings with that audience. For the energetic business leader whose bias towards action has resulted in success in projects, or products, or other solving complex problems, their hastily constructed presentations are forgiven because of the credibility they already have.

The problem? They set a standard of mediocrity that people without such a track record – earlier in their career, or unlucky, or with a less refined bias towards action – use when they create presentations. And with those hastily constructed presentations that the audience must persuade itself on, nothing happens.

To persuade, to get your audience to buy into your ideas, move beyond the first-draft-mindset by adding a few tried-and true steps that add up to a technique. Yes, it adds time, but not a lot of time. Think of it as a small investment in getting people to buy in.

The Four Appointments for a Better Draft

1. Schedule 4 different appointments in your calendar to create the presentation.

You WILL procrastinate...er, I mean, discover that important, urgent needs pop up that prevent you from spending the time you want to spend on it.

2. The first appointment is the SFD session.

No one is in this session but you. In it, make your presentation - pull your data, create your graphs, define the narrative that supports it, build your slides. Use all the bullet points. This session will feel familiar to you, because in business this is usually the only one we attend to.

3. The second appointment is to finish the SFD.

The first session is never long enough. The purpose of this session is to complete your SFD and address some of the confusion you no-doubt uncover from the contents of your first session.

4. The third appointment is the reality check.

Think of a colleague who is familiar with your situation but not closely involved. Invite this person to the appointment. You are going to present your SFD to her.

Sit down with her, explain what you want to accomplish, who you are going to present to and each of your slides.

By the very simple act of talking, you will discover unclear parts of your presentation, and that will make it better. Your trusted colleague will also point out challenges and shortcomings of your presentation. Between what you notice in yourself and what feedback you get from your colleague, you will have a fresh understanding of how to make it better, and you will have a list of edits.

Something to pay attention to during this session: your first draft undoubtedly resulted in a lot of bullet points. As you walk through this, what image or graphic can you incorporate that represents your idea? Your audience has been worn down by all of the bullet points they've seen from miscellaneous presentations. Since you want them to buy into your ideas, honoring them with something interesting would go a long way.

5. The Fourth appointment, final edits.

Make the edits that you identified in your walk through. Incorporate visuals as you can. Clarify confusing points. Move things around.

Make Your Ideas Better

A bias for action can live alongside refined ideas. By adding a couple of hours to the presentation creation process, you can stand out and get things done at the same time.




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