July 16, 2016 fm

Generic Is Dead Long Live Specific


The longer I deal with the art of speaking, the more I’m frustrated with people’s incapability to give specific examples. Specific examples are more tangible, more relatable and they increase your logos value. More logos, more persuasive power. Contrariwise, generic content is as useless as a deaf spy.

For 3,013 days I worked as a business consultant. I experienced 128-slide business presentations. I attended endless business meetings. And for 3,013 days I said… nothing.

How do business presenters speak about business issues? They speak like this:

  • We help our clients to achieve their goals.
  • We create events that exceed the expectations of our clients.
  • We add value to our clients’ businesses.
  • We know all relevant value drivers of this industry.
  • Our new device helps patients to detect cardiovascular problems at an earlier stage.

Generic, generic, generic.

Generic is dead, long live specific!

One of my clients is from the pharmaceutical sector. A training participant presented a new app that improves the communication between health professionals and patients. She talked about the four benefits of that app (Great! Sell benefits, not features!). She talked about flexibility and follow-ups and convenience and quality of life. It was a professional and proficient presentation. Business as usual, but very well done.

Now imagine she’d done it differently. What if she’d turned all that generic content into one specific example? What if she’d introduced one of her real life patients? Like Mrs. García from Barcelona, 78 years old.

She could’ve said,

Mrs. García from Barcelona is 78 years old. She lives in the Barrio Gótico, on the fifth floor of a building without elevator. When she started to use the app, she struggled at first. But then her grandson Pedro showed her everything. Now, thanks to the app she can send messages directly to Dr. Alfonso Sánchez. Thanks to the app Mrs. García doesn’t have to take the stairs, two buses and the tube every week to get there. Not even mentioning those long hours in that congested waiting room. Also, thanks to the app she doesn’t forget to take her medicine anymore. The app reminds her every time with a loud shrilling sound. According to Mrs. García her quality of life has improved tremendously. She says that she’s very happy with the new solution.

She could’ve said all that. We would’ve pictured one of our own family members. We would’ve felt Mrs. García’s pain of taking the stairs and public transport and spending long sweaty hours in the waiting room. It would’ve been more personal, more relatable and definitely more logical (logos). But not only that! It also would’ve increased the level of pathos (emotion) and ethos (credibility) because it’s an example of personal care and empathy.

Next time you present something in a business context, stop talking about value chains and excellence and win-win situations. Start giving specific examples with specific solutions for specific problems. Your persuasive power will increase like the number of app downloads of Pokémon Go.

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