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Arouse curiosity, then fill it

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

In the book Don’t Be Such a Scientist, author Randy Olson urges scientists to improve their communication skills. He advises readers who want to convey powerful messages to arouse and fulfill—meaning arouse the audience’s curiosity and stoke their desire to listen before you supply important information.

The same principle applies to managers who want to give great presentations. Rather than flood listeners with reams of data and fact-filled slides, begin by planting seeds of interest and putting a human face on the subject. Tell a captivating story, pose a riddle or appeal to emotion by describing a dramatic set of events.

If you skip this step and rush to fill your audience with evidence and statistics, you risk driving them away. They may lack the curiosity to wrap their minds around your hard data.

One of the best ways to arouse people is to open with a vexing puzzle. You want them thinking, “Gee, that doesn’t make sense” or “Something doesn’t add up.”

If you brief the top brass on your cost-cutting proposal, for instance, begin by listing a series of wasteful procedures.

Then say, “We identified these pockets of waste in 2007 and have spent $560,000 addressing them.” Then pause and add, “But as of this month, such waste has actually increased 22 percent.”

Now you’re ready to fulfill expectations! Head honchos will hang on your every word.

If you’re going to arouse and fulfill, make sure to deliver the goods. Address the core issue in a cogent, compelling manner. Use sound logic and airtight support so that listeners agree with you.

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