The 4th P

Although the title of this post would make a great title for a crime novel, it’s actually a follow-up on the most visited article that I have published on this blog to date. In “The 3 p’s of a professional public presenter” I argued that in this era of content, communication, conversation, and customer experience, a marketer’s capability to create a decent message house, translate it into a captivating story, and use it to engage with a specific audience is probably more essential than mastering Jerome McCarthy’s 4 P’s: price, promotion, product and place.

And then I introduced an alternative “3P” model that summoned business presenters to take control of their pitch, their preparation, and their presentation. Well, I was wrong or, rather, incomplete. The desirable speaker’s mix consists of four P’s – not just three. I realized this when reading a biographical article about Beethoven, in which I found this quote attributed to the German composer:

“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” ― Ludwig van Beethoven

You may now have guessed that the 4th P stands for passion. And though it’s less tangible than the 3 other ones – a skill that can’t be acquired by training and a genuineness that can’t be rehearsed – it’s probably the P with the biggest impact on the outcome of your presentation. Passion is the x-factor that sets you apart from the average speaker, that leaves your audience with an authentic impression, and that creates an incentive for them to engage with you.

(photo: John Belushi as Beethoven)

Just like enthusiasm, passion is contagious. Combined with an appropriate pitch, a thorough preparation, and a well-rehearsed presentation, it provides you with a unique set of chords to compose, conduct, and perform your next master piece.

“From the glow of enthusiasm I let the melody escape. I pursue it. Breathless I catch up with it. It flies again, it disappears, it plunges into a chaos of diverse emotions. I catch it again, I seize it, I embrace it with delight… I multiply it by modulations, and at last I triumph in the first theme. There is the whole symphony.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

 

Making the volcano

I once started a presentation workshop with this exercise: “Describe how you would use a volcano as a metaphor for presenting your business plan to investors?”

As I wrote in my “begin the beginning” post, a query or a poll may be a good means for grabbing your audience’s attention. So the question resulted in an active brainstorming session, and the answers from the group included statements such as “it’s about fire and passion”, “an eruption of words”, “a mountain to climb”, “need to assess the risks”, …

Then I came up with my “volcano making kit”, a construction toy with fast drying plaster and paint that I found on the internet. I actually used it as a metaphor myself for introducing a series of tips, tools and best practices for preparing and delivering a business presentation – the kind of topics I frequently write about on this blog.

volcano_making_kit

And also my call for action at the end of the training stayed within the perimeter of the volcano, since I finished with one of my favorite Tom Peters quotes:

Tom_Peters_passion

Enthusiasm can be contagious

“From the glow of enthusiasm I let the melody escape. I pursue it. Breathless I catch up with it. It flies again, it disappears, it plunges into a chaos of diverse emotions. I catch it again, I seize it, I embrace it with delight… I multiply it by modulations, and at last I triumph in the first theme. There is the whole symphony.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

Maybe you remember an earlier post that I published on this blog, titled: “Playing at a theater near you“. But last week I actually delivered a presentation in a real, authentic, former-GDR movie theater (as shown on the photo below).

intrel14

Although I have given quite a few public talks for quite large audiences in quite nice auditoriums before (I once presented in Henry VIII’s bedroom – without losing my head), this cinema location gave me a very special kick. And although I talked (as usual) about a technology related topic, in this theater environment I felt more visual storyteller than ever.

Sure I am aware that I’m a rather enthusiastic speaker by nature, but this special place probably boosted the passion in my talk even more. It is said that enthusiasm is contagious, so it was not a (very big) surprise to me that the audience shared my mood, and even reported this on their feedback forms.

QED – a cinema is a place for stories, and as a B2B storyteller I am already looking forward to presenting in such an inspiring place soon again!

Read also these blog posts:

Profession: storyteller

“The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often.” — Hugh MacLeod in “How to be Creative

The quote above, also known as Hugh MacLeod’s Sex and Cash theory, says it clearly: you need a job to earn your living, and “being creative” is not always on top of the list of an employer’s expectations. The ideal occupation, of course, is when you can follow your passion, leave your mark on the world and at the same time make money. But, there’s some good news for the creative among us…

A study carried out by the French ManpowerGroup has identified three emerging job profiles for the future: the Protector, the Optimizer and the Storyteller.

The latter one, the Storyteller, is described as  a “craftsman of engagement”. He or she gives meaning to (or renews) the company’s engagement in times of crisis and communicates with all stakeholders through dialog and social media. In today’s organizations we often find these creative people in marketing and communications functions such as “Content Marketer”, “Digital Brand Manager” or “Community Manager” and in business supporting roles, including “Innovation Valorization Managers”, “Business Evangelists” and “Cultural Engineering Consultants”.

storyteller_bizcard

Although I have met only very few people with “Corporate Storyteller” on their business card (some companies have seen the light, and e.g. SAP hired “Chief Storyteller” Julie Roehm about 20 months ago), storytelling is becoming the new gospel of business. And those creatives who can create compelling stories, get their message across, and inspire audiences’ passion will stand out in the new era of content and meaning.

Other articles about this topic that are worth reading: