March 19, 2012 fm

How To Make The Intangible More Tangible

Entrepreneurs are great. They are so full of spirit, passion, and healthy ambition. The other week I helped a number of Barcelona-based entrepreneurs improve their investor pitch presentations.

One of the guys presented a promising project in the field of sustainability. At one point he mentioned the annual amount of wastepaper in Catalonia – 428,000 tons.

Now – have you ever seen 428,000 tons of wastepaper? Can you picture one single ton of paper? What size would it have? How much space would it occupy?

Big numbers are mental curve balls for your audience.

A trick is to offer analogies that everyone in the audience can easily relate to.

In our example, the entrepreneur could have said, “428,000 tons of wastepaper is the equivalent weight to 428,000 Volkswagen Polo cars.” Most of the people have seen a VW Polo, but only very few of us have ever seen one ton of wastepaper. By comparing an intangible amount with a concept your audience understands, your message becomes more understandable and more memorable.

If you speak, for instance, about half a million liters of tapwater, show a 0.5 liter bottle of water and say, “One million bottles like this one we flush down the toilets in our city every day.”

Everytime you plan to mention big, intangible numbers and amounts, give it a second thought. For sure, those investors appreciated that VW Polo analogy. What will be your analogy that everyone in your audience can understand more easily?

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