7:15 am conversation with my son:
“If you keep your fingers out of the bowl I will let you keep your cereal. If you don’t I will take it away.”
7:48 am text to my husband, Scott:
“A friend of mine invited me to a Pampered Chef party at her house tonight at 6. Do you mind if I go? I should be home about 7:30 and I can get you something….”
I started formulating my blog post this morning and before I hit the office I had two solid examples of the “What’s In It For Me” topic in action.
What are WIIFMs?
“What’s In It For Me” – the cool kids call it WIIFM – is a basic negotiation tactic people use to get what they want. And typically both parties give something up in order to gain something else, because in good negotiations both parties win.
WIIFM is the method I use to get my kids to behave at the grocery store (“You can pick out something at the end of the trip if you’re good”), it’s the way we incent employees (“If you are a high performer you will get a raise and a good review”). WIIFM is the proverbial carrot…and they’re everywhere.
The key to the WIIFM negotiation is that from the start both parties know what their potential benefit is and they know what they have to do to get that benefit. My kids know they can choose something at the store if they behave, staff know that if they do a good job they will likely be rewarded.
Reaching back to the examples I kicked this post off with, Scott knows that if he watches the kids while I go to the party he will get a new set of Pampered Chef barbecue tongs, and my son knows that if he uses his utensils he can keep his cereal.
WIIFM in Presentations
The WIIFM negotiation exists in presentations too. We – the presenters – ask the audience to give up their time in exchange for their attention. And in exchange for their attention the audience wants the presenter to provide them with useful information.
If you’ve been reading our blog – even a just little – you know we build our presentations around our audience. Clearly articulating the audience benefits – or the WIIFMs – is our secret weapon to building audience-centered presentations. Once we know the clear benefits our information will have on our audience (once we know what the WIIFMs are) we can build a presentation that supports them at every turn.
But identifying the audience benefit isn’t enough. We need to go further.
Remember that line a few paragraphs up?
“The key to the WIIFM negotiation is that from the start both parties know what their potential benefit is and they know what they have to do to get that benefit.”
In the presentation negotiation it is implied that the audience will give their attention to the presenter. But how, from the start, does the audience know what benefits they will receive from the presentation?
Easy. Because the presenter tells the audience within the first 90 seconds of the presentation what their benefit will be (“Today you will learn ‘x’, and you can use that information to ‘x'”). Then the audience knows up front what they are exchanging their attention for.
But audience attention can be a fickle thing (face it, we’ve all got a lot going on), so it’s not enough for the presenter to mention the audience benefit once and be done with it. At regular intervals the audience will question whether they should continue to give their attention, so in order to keep audience attention from the beginning of the presentation to the end, the presenter must continue to make connections between the material and the benefit to the audience.
WIIFMs should be sprinkled throughout the presentation like Hansel and Gretel spread breadcrumbs on the forest floor. Except birds don’t eat WIIFMs.
The idea behind WIIFMs is pretty simple. In exchange for their attention, give the audience information that benefits them. And in order to keep their attention throughout the presentation you must keep telling them the benefits. If at any point your audience begins to question what’s in it for them, their minds will wander.
WIIFMs in Action
Ready to try it?
First, identify the clear audience benefits by asking yourself these questions:
- What’s in it for the audience?
- Why should they spend their time with me instead of on something else?
- Is there a problem I can solve for them?
- What are they going to do with this information?
- Is there a call to action – something specific I’d like them to do with the information I am providing?
Move through your sections and ask yourself how the material in each section benefits the audience. You may find that you have more than one benefit, or that your key points collectively build a case for one big benefit. Either scenario is ok. The important piece is to uncover those benefits. You should be able to clearly articulate connections between your material and why that material matters to your audience.
Need some musical inspiration for this section? Try Janet Jackson’s “What Have you Done For Me Lately?”
The next step is to take those benefits – the WIIFMs – and weave them into the appropriate narrative locations throughout the presentation. So, for each key point you want to make the connection between the material and the benefit. You want to be able to tell the audience – at regular intervals throughout the presentation – why the material is relevant to them and what benefit they are getting from it.
Some good phrases to use in your narrative are:
- “This matters because…”
- “You should care about this because…”
- “This is important because…”
Or you can be more subtle:
- “A lot of people don’t think this is important but it is because…”
- “Most people think (one way), but something else is actually happening and that matters because….”
How you choose to phrase your WIIFMs is a matter of style. Some people (me) like the direct approach. Others (Robin) prefer the subtle approach. The important thing is that your audience, without working at it, understands the connection between the concept and how this concept is going to have some benefit to them.
Need musical inspiration for this section? I like “Tell Him.” It reminds me of the presentation standard rule we’ve talked about in other posts: tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.
Unlike many things in life, WIIFMs are pretty transparent and straightforward. Figure out what’s in it for your audience, and then tell your audience what’s in it for them.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of life’s negotiations were this easy?