How to Spoil Your Audience

I’m an addict for television spoilers for many of my favorite shows. (I’ve been doing confessions a lot lately, but they are fun). It makes me crazy to not know idea what is about to happen to my favorite couple or if the loner character will finally find love. I have to know everything – it gets me invested, it gives me something to look forward to. It makes me want to count down the days until the show premieres. It’s a reason why season finales are often filmed with cliffhangers – because it generates the “oh my God I can’t wait” factor for the audience. Take my brain candy show, Gossip Girl, for example: at the end of the last season, the final scene was a shot of a positive pregnancy test, but no clues as to who it might belong to. I have been biting my nails all summer and with spoilers coming out, I’ve been hoping for some clues. (Alas: there are none. This secret is locked up tighter than Fort Knox.)

Create that nail biting experience for your audience.

Take it from Alan Ball – it’s all about marketing. The Trueblood writer is a genius at cutting and editing his promos to get you excited about next Sunday. When you start planning the meeting, event, or conference call you have to give the potential attendees the highlights and move on. You want them to read a headline or a bullet point and wonder, “What’s that all about?” They need to want more.

Don’t be afraid to tell them why it’s worth their time.

Most shows start to advertise messy promos reminding you of the new season before the new season starts to film. The team over at the CW Networks will take the most delectable highlights from the recently concluded season and use them as a marketing tool so that you have the show on your mind. In your reminder emails, send out highlights from a previous event, the link to the old live blog stream, or a compilation of what other people said about your event.

Sneak peeks are the spoiler junkie’s favorite thing.

I love that Grey’s Anatomy releases a number of sneak peeks the week before an episode airs. A lot of times, for season premieres or finales you will get to see the first 5 to 8 minutes, but they always cut off at the part where I’m on the edge of my seat, about to scream at the screen. In invitations or reminders, include enough attention, but back it off. You want them to bite their nails, remember?

Above all – deliver.

If you’re going to promise me an “awesome” promo or an “unforgettable” episode – you better deliver; otherwise, I could be tempted to think twice about choosing to watch your show the next week. The same goes for your presentation – you can spin it, build it up, tease that it’s awesome all you want, but if you get in front of the audience and it isn’t exciting, then you’ve let the audience down and they will think twice about attending your next event.

As a spoiler addict I want – no I need – to prepare myself for what to expect on my favorite shows. I can’t stand watching most shows without something to look forward to. Your audience wants to look forward to something too, so give them that little something. What are you doing to spoil your audience?

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AccuConference | Rethink Your Web Conferences Slideshow

Rethink Your Web Conferences Slideshow

I've talked quite a bit before about web conference presentations, PowerPoint presentations, and even PowerPoint presentations for your web conferences.  We've looked at "Zen” presentations, using black slides, telling stories, and of course, the "Less is More” rule.

Bad Powerpoint

Well, I'd like to add to that illustrious list today with the help of a .pdf "ReThink!” PowerPoint presentation by Oliver Adria.  The link puts you at the beginning of his slideshow that demonstrates as it explains a newer, more interesting kind of presentation.  And following the eternal, Less is More, there are 76 .pdf pages, but they comprise at most 30 "slides.”

Adria breaks his presentation into three sections, Old Habits, One Message, and One Story.  For this post, we're going to concentrate on what he suggests to do with Old Habits… namely, dump them.

What does it mean to get rid of old PowerPoint habits?  It means abandoning rules like, 7 words for each line, 7 lines for each slide, and only display each slide for 40 seconds each.”  (Now, if you've been following this blog, you're allowed to feel smug that these rules haven't been your rules for a while.)

My favorite part is .pdf page 20 where it shows a PowerPoint slide template, then tells you to forget it.  I am not ashamed to admit that there was a time when I was a slave to that template.  So seeing a blank page as the suggested starting point felt good.  The trick now is what to do with that empty canvas.

One idea of course is to use Adria's theme which is to not have a theme.  His slides contain large fonts and small.  His words appear in the right corner, left, bottom, top, and basically anyplace but where they're expected.  Pictures are used, but only occasionally and sporadically, and I think this increases their impact.

Abandoning old habits is difficult, but at least with PowerPoint habits, starting with a blank slate is already exactly what you have to do.

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