Wanna create impact? Play all senses!

How stepping away from a PPT overload can help us create more impact. While we are all known to use our 5 senses intuitively while perceiving data from the world around us, we usually tend to trust the sense of sight when sending information in our job as market researchers. The estimation is that, on a daily basis, 30 million PowerPoint slides are created by people all over the world to get a message across.
At our internal InSites Consulting Galvanize Congress last week, the importance became very clear of choosing wisely as to what senses to use in order to have an impact on an audience and it even triggered us to promise to fully ditch PPT by 2020.
Keynote speaker Bernard Lahousse from Foodpairing started off by talking about the science behind top chefs’ recipes across the globe. He proved to us that when tasting an ingredient or dish, the sense of smell is actually more important than the sense of taste. He made us pinch our nose while pouring some sweet granular content in our mouth, instantly recognized by all of us as sugar. Only after releasing our nose were we able to tell that the sugar also contained some cinnamon. A first sign that triggered us to realize that we should sometimes use different and maybe more unconscious senses than the obvious ones that we use to perceive the outside world.

It wasn’t until Farrell Styers, Senior Research Manager at InSites Consulting, took the stage that we started thinking about the impact of choosing wisely as to what senses to use when sending out information. Unlike the other 30+ fabulous contributions of the day, Farrell did not use a PowerPoint presentation. The lights were dimmed and we could simply listen to a podcast produced on the spot. A soothing voice supported by compelling music and sound bites filled the auditorium (I’m finally getting why these venues are called that :-).
A new experience that really enabled us to just focus on the story he was telling. A great story on how to unlock the innovators in ourselves is of course bound to resonate in a company like InSites Consulting, but we were all convinced that the format he chose to catch our attention played a major role in his huge success. A standing ovation was definitely what he deserved, which made us realize that this is what we want our audience to experience when we come and present our research results.
Listen to a short excerpt of Farrell Styers Galvanize contribution:

Audio proved to be an impactful sense to play upon in many more presentations, specifically when music was involved. Linking key takeaways for galvanizing our research to the way Bruce Springsteen is handling his career and his E-street band became impactful, as we were immersed in numerous of the Boss’ greatest hits by our UK Managing Director Tom Goderis. Britney Spears helped us understand our IKEA client case much better, presented by Kaat van Damme and Pieter de Vuyst. The emotions which music lets us experience, strongly contribute to the impact these stories created.
So…is PowerPoint dead? No, I wouldn’t say so. A great picture still tells more than a thousand words, as our CFO Tim Duhamel proved that up, close & personal pictures of colleagues are excellent conversation starters.
InSites colleagues pictures
But I do think that all of us researchers should think more & better of what senses to play when bringing a story. Impact is a trending topic in our industry nowadays and apart from using impactful content and thinking about potential consequences on the business, I think we should add a component on format and medium, unlocking experiences in our audience that do not just make them see, but also make them feel, hear, taste and who knows, even smell our story.
At InSites Consulting, we embraced this part of creating impact by agreeing to the fact that we will start sending our proposals to clients in short video formats, allowing them to take just 3 minutes to watch a video rather than having to go through a multi-pager PPT. As in today’s world, we are so accustomed to watching videos (people watch hundreds of millions of hours of YouTube content every day), it’s actually quite strange we still expect our clients to grasp the content of a proposal or report, just from reading a slide deck. And yes, our BHAG for 2020 is to no longer use PPT, but that’s also related to the fact the robots are coming our way…
But more on that in another blogpost!

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