Word Of the Week #39: Presentation

April 21, 2009 by  

Presentation: the ability to paint a picture with your words.

Does your job entail selling something to your customers, guests, or members that they can’t see? If so, I believe one of the most effective ways to do that is to be able to “paint a picture” with your words. Fifty-five percent of the population receives information visually. So if they can’t see it, you need to create a visual with your words.

Nile Souvenir Salesmen

Nile Souvenir Salesmen

My last job as a server was in 1983, at Fedora’s Restaurant in Kansas City. Our menu consisted of various items typically found in European restaurants. There was no restaurant like it in Kansas City. We had an open kitchen, however, we did not use dessert trays or have any way of showing the food to our guests prior to them receiving it. An example of a restaurant with visuals would be Morton’s Steakhouse. They bring a tray with all of the types of meat they serve. Denny’s and a lot of other restaurants have pictures on their menus, so people can see the item.

If your operation is like Fedora’s, then you need to create descriptions so your servers can “paint a picture” with their words. I will give you two examples of excellent descriptions that allowed me to sell an appetizer and a dessert. The first item I sold tons of was Carpaccio which I described as, “Paper thin slices of raw top sirloin on a plate that has been brushed with a garlic Parmesan sauce.” The second was Tartuffo which was, “A scoop of white chocolate ice cream rolled in chunks of Ambrosia white chocolate on a plate of homemade hot fudge.”

Do you see how each description paints a picture? If you don’t have great visual descriptions, it makes it much harder to sell something you can’t see. This week focus on creating more effective presentations.

Reader Responses

“Right on again! I use this technique all the time and I express it with passion and a little theatrics. It also goes back to your prior WOW Word of the week that talks about “If you don’t like this meal, it will be on me.” — Don Vance

“Your word today gives a whole new meaning to a picture paints a thousand words. And, the fewer the words the better. The use of picture images everyone can relate to make it easier for people to see in their mind’s eye what it is one is describing. In my first book, “You Can Call Me Al: The Colorful Journey of College Basketball’s Original Flower Child, Al McGuire,” Coach McGuire admitted that he was not a good speller and did not have a poor vocabulary.  The latter could be a problem for a former coach who went into broadcasting. But because he utilized rich, visual imagery in his commentary, along with his own “language,” people understood exactly what he was explaining while broadcasting a game.  For example, one of Coach Al’s players, Ric Cobb, could jump higher than anyone else on the team. He called Ric, “Elevator Man.” When he could tell that the game was, in effect, over Al would say “Curtains.” One of his greatest players, Dean “The Dream” Meminger was especially quick. He referred to Dean as “quicker than an 11:15 mass at a seaside resort.” Those expressions, in addition to “Hail Mary Pass,” “Thoroughbred,” “Dunkirk,” were McGuireisms that made him famous as a basketball broadcaster. But they endeared him to basketball fans and others who really did not know the game, but could relate to the imagery.  So, presentation is incredibly important. We want our customers and friends to “see” what it is we are describing.” — Joe Moran.