Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Power Button

The Power Button is the other punch to engrave key points on the audience's mind. It introduces your Power Line to the audience, by set them up to listen to you. 

Last week I wrote about James Humes' Power Line as the first punch to engrave your key idea in the audience's mind. The second punch is the Power Button and it is the launcher of your Power Line. In the words of the author:
The Power Button says to the audience "Ready—Set—Listen" to set them up for the Power Line that follows.
I heard a very well known professor in the field of applied math using this Power Button back in 2009 in the Netherlands. Almost two year later I still remember his Power Button. Unfortunately his presentation was bad, but with the (perhaps unconscious) use of the Power Button he engraved in the mind the idea that 
Tangential interpolation methods are the only possible set of method to attain H2-norm optimality.
Nevermind that his means, I just want to point out this Power Button worked.  So, what there exactly his words?
This is the only way [pause] I repeat, [pause] the only way to obtain H2 optimality.

Comparing this Power Button and Line with the ones presented by Humes, I understand why they worked. First the pauses, second the  repetition of the word only  and third the emphasis on the word only in the second part of the line. Actually the pauses surround the word repeat leveraging it and graving the attention of the audience. The use of the word only was also striking because in the context of applied math it is seldom that there is only one way of doing something.

Here are other examples of Power Buttons from the book of Humes
Let me again assert my firm belief [pause] that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. -Franklin D. Roosevelt
 And so my fellow Americans: [pause] Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.
- John F. Kennedy
 The Power Button is underlined, the Power Line is italicize.  Note the presence of pauses in the three examples. As I mentioned some time again, pauses draw attention and tell the audience something special or important is about to happen. Also note that in the use of the words repeat and again. The content of the Power Line is not new to the, but it is a power cap. Kennedy also summarizes with this And so my fellows americans
This double punch, Power Line-Button, is an extremely effective rhetorical tool to delver your key message.  There isn't any excuse anymore, go and engrave your ideas on your audience.

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