How Would Hemingway Present Your Research?
I’m working on a presentation with a research colleague at Wells Fargo for the upcoming ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) Re:Think 2015 conference. The challenge? Getting it streamlined and condensed so that we can deliver the whole thing within a strict timeframe. All the research, all the insights, all the business outcomes from a huge national project—we’ve got to say it all in just ten minutes.
It has me thinking of Earnest Hemingway’s eloquent perspective on editing and brevity:
If a writer . . . knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.
Beautiful. But does that apply to marketing and research presentations? I think so, and there is research to prove it. For example:
1. A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that presentations showing only the very strongest data (and omitting other supportive data) are more persuasive than they would be otherwise. (See our article: Don’t Bare It All with Your Data.)
2. New research published in the Journal of Marketing shows that when communicating value propositions or benefits claims, the optimal number of positive claims is three, with additional information triggering skepticism. (See our article: The Most Persuasive Messages Make Three Claims.)
As researchers, we tend to overwhelm our audiences with details and too many numbers, which makes sense because we work with so much data, all of which is potentially valuable. But when presenting our work to others, and persuading them to act, less is definitely more.
So here comes ARF Re:Think 2015 in just two weeks! We’ll do our best to engage, enlighten, and inspire with a tight presentation that would make Hemingway proud.