Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

That idea goes to the persuasive value of keeping your message to three simple points. Simplicity makes people think, “This person has thought this through. He has distilled the message to the essence. I trust him.”

With that in mind, early in your presentation, say something like:

I’m going to touch on three key things:

  • The value of our plan.
  • The cost of our plan.
  • How easy it will be to implement.

That simple approach will start to get people on your side.

There is plenty of modern science to indicate the persuasive value of simplicity.

In 2005, the Journal of Cognitive Psychology published a study where people judged the intelligence of writers who wrote complicated sentences versus those who wrote simply. The simple writers were judged smarter.

My favorite study was published in 2010 in the Journal of Cognition and Emotion. It studied people’s faces when they viewed things that were easy to pick up versus those that were difficult to pick up. Then they measured the facial expressions. When people viewed things that are easy to pick up, they smiled.

For example, if they saw a pen, they would smile. That’s easy to pick up. But they wouldn’t smile if they saw a porcupine. That’s hard to pick up.

And that’s exactly what happens when you stand in front of an executive who is expecting you to deliver a complex spreadsheet. When your presentation says, “The data points to three key things,” deep down he is smiling. You’re making it easy for him or her.

Joey Asher

Joey AsherJoey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”