Transcript: Carmine Gallo Discusses Three Secrets All Inspiring Messages Share at Stanford

In this lecture, I’m going to show you a clip. He started with a story about his grandmother. He tied it into the theme, the power of identity. He says a lot of poor, underprivileged kids in a lot of communities across America don’t have identity. So how do you connect that with your audience? Let me tell a story about it. So he tells the story of his grandmother, who when he was 11 years old, I believe, pulled him aside and said, “Brian, I think you’re special”. And then she asked him to make a promise. The promise was never to drink alcohol. He said, hey, I was 11 years old, I didn’t have anything to lose. Sure, why not? “I’ll never drink alcohol, Grandma”.

Here’s how he picks up the story.

[Video Clip Starts:

I grew up in the country, in the rural south, and I have a brother a year older than me, and a sister a year younger. And when I was about 14 or 15, one day my brother came home and he had this six pack of beer. I don’t know where he got it. And he grabbed me and my sister and we went out in the woods. We were kind of just out there doing the stuff we crazily did. And he had a sip of this beer and he gave some to my sister. And she had some, and they offered it to me. I said no, no, no, no that’s okay. Ya’ll go ahead, I’m not going to have any beer. My brother said, come on we’re doing this today! You always do what we do. I had some, your sister had some. Have some beer. I said, no I don’t feel right that, ya’ll go ahead, ya’ll go ahead. And then my brother started staring at me. He said, what’s wrong with you? Have some beer. Then he looked at me real hard, he said, oh I hope you’re not still hung up on that conversation mama had with you. I said, well, what are you talking about? He says, well mama tells all the grandkids that they’re special. I was devastated. And I’m going to admit something to you. I’m going to tell you something that I probably shouldn’t. I know this might be broadcast broadly, but I’m 52 years old, and I’m going to admit to you that I have never had a drop of alcohol. I don’t say that because I think that’s virtuous. I say that because there is power in identity.

– Video Clip Ends]

Not going to talk about body language today, but look at that body language. That’s strength. There’s power in identity. So he’s reinforcing his Twitter headline, his key theme with body language as well, and he’s tying stories into it. See with communication, folks, I don’t just make this stuff up. I’m trying to learn from the best. And if someone can successfully argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, and when I asked him, what’s your secret? And he goes, I don’t know, I tell stories. What else am I supposed to expect? Stories. Story telling.

Great communicators tell stories. Just like Marissa Mayer. You can use stories in a presentation, or you can tell personal stories. Stories are what are called emotionally charged events. When the brain detects an emotionally charged event it releases dopamine into the system which acts as a mental Post-it note saying, remember this.

Stories connect with people. What stories can I tell? And the only other technique that I want to leave with you today, this is very important for all of you giving presentations. How many of you give like PowerPoint presentations, day to day or frequently? Okay, so most of you, right? When you tell those stories, make sure that you’re thinking visually, because the one thing that’s going to ruin the impact of those stories, is putting up a slide like this. Okay, that’ll be it. That’s the end of your story. That’s a real PowerPoint slide, by the way.

So they mentioned I wrote this book Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. This came out several years ago. I taught a lot about the visual display of information. Steve Jobs didn’t create it, but he happened to use it very, very well. And a lot of — I’ve been really gratified, because ever since then a lot of business people, some very well-known that have touched your life every day that you know very well, have called me or they sent me emails. Or they send me their slides ahead of time. And they’re showing me how they’re incorporating visual design.

So whether you read my stuff, or Nancy Duarte who spoke here, Garr Reynolds, there’s so many different resources out there, but the point is start learning how to think visually. This is called Picture Superiority. Picture Superiority simply means that, when I deliver information verbally you remember about 10% of it. If I can add a picture though, retention goes up to 65%. The average PowerPoint slide is 40 words. That doesn’t surprise me. When I first heard I thought that’s too much. Actually no, it’s not; it’s very close to reality.

Great communicators, it’s hard to find 40 words in like ten slides of their presentations. When Tim Cook at Apple has a number, when he wants to just introduce a big statistic or a number, that’s all you got to have on the slide is the number, 5 million. If he wants to talk about a product, it’s the product. You don’t need to clutter slides with bullets and texts and bullets and texts. Especially when you tell stories.

Let me give you one example that I actually delivered here a couple of years ago. Remember I told you about the MacBook Air, the world’s thinnest notebook? Well if I’m going to tell you it’s the world’s thinnest notebook, boy, that’s clear. Why would I clutter a slide and make it look as ugly as this? This is what I think most people would’ve done when they introduced a new product like the MacBook Air. Let me put all the specs on one slide. And, by the way, I heard Carmine mentioned something about visual design, so why don’t I add some clip art, clip art of a battery up there? And there you have it. That’s a pretty ugly slide.

Steve Jobs and Apple they thought about it. They thought creatively. Well if it’s that thin, it kind of fits inside one of those envelopes that you see around the office. Well why don’t we just show that? Oh, isn’t that so much more powerful than this? That’s memorable. That’s emotional. It makes a connection with you. But that takes work.

Thinking visually takes work. And it also takes collaboration as well, so but that’s okay. Collaborate with people who might be better at something than you are. There are many people who are better designers than I am, so I collaborate with them. I’m very good at telling them the story. They collaborate, we came up with some pretty interesting slides, or images for certain events. But think visually.