It is the early 1960’s and Boeing is ready to launch a new building effort to create a new plane. The managers need to create a compelling goal that will resonate with thousands of employees and contractors. They need to create a vision that will stick. They have a choice of strategies… they can take a conceptual route or they can take a more concrete approach.
The conceptual vision is simple… Build the best passenger plane in the world. These 8 words would be included in all documentation and preached to all groups from the corporate pulpit.
The second approach is much more concrete. Lay out three compelling milestones that must be reached to have a successful plane. Each of these objectives is clear and focused.
The 727 must seat 131 passengers, fly nonstop from Miami to New York City, and land on runway 4-22 at La Guardia
Put yourself in the audience and pretend you are an engineer hearing this message for the first time. Which message would stick in your mind? Which message would help you get to work quickly on the goal?
While the first message is somewhat lofty and motivational, the second, more concrete message, will get you to work much quicker than the first.
After all… what does the best passenger plane in the world look like? How big is it? How far will it fly? How much fuel will it carry?
The second message is much more definable.
To get a plane to carry 131 passengers it must be a certain size, but not too large or it will not be able to land on the short 4-22 runway at La Guardia. It must be able to carry enough fuel to make the flight from Miami to New York.
In the early 60’s, these 3 concrete goals helped thousands of different contractors and engineers to come together quickly and put together a workable design and implementation plan. The 727 came to market in a timely fashion and was a huge success.
When you put together a Powerpoint presentation, think about your audience. What do you want them to come away with? If you want them to take action you’ll need to give them some concrete steps to take. In their landmark book, Made To Stick, authors Chip & Dan Heath devote a whole chapter to Concreteness.They give many examples and their book will make a great addition to your presentation library.
So what makes something concrete? Chip & Dan explain…
If you can examine something with your senses, it’s concrete.
A V8 engine is concrete. “High Performance” is abstract.
Example: A Concrete Powerpoint Presentation
Look at the following two slides…
A bicycle is concrete
It has handle bars, seat, pedals, and wheels with spokes. It is instantly recognizable and will easily stick in the minds of your audience.
Self Esteem is abstract
What is self esteem? How do you describe it? It may mean different things to different people. Abstract concepts can be very hard for people to remember.
When you put together your presentation, put yourself in the audience and ask the question… Do I understand what is being presented?
Make sure to add enough concrete to get your message to stick!
Question: Have you ever created a concrete Powerpoint presentation?