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The World’s Greatest Pitchman

Making a speech? Study this guy. No kidding

April 1, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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Picture this scenario in a packed auditorium:

  • A presenter carrying a laptop walks to the podium and begins to fiddle.
  • A long pause occurs as the big screen goes blank.
  • Then on-screen is the giant boot-up pattern of the speaker's laptop.
  • After fussing with the cursor, the speaker clicks on an icon.
  • What follows: a series of slides, bulleted points, charts and graphs—all in mouse-type.
  • Not even those seated in the first row are able to read what's on-screen.
  • The speaker—with eyes glued to the screen—reads the mouse-type in a halting monotone with zero audience eye contact and zero enthusiasm.
  • "Power corrupts," said professor Edward Tufte. "PowerPoint corrupts absolutely."

TV's Greatest Pitchman
I vote for Kevin Trudeau.

Working from a home office, I frequently take a break and head for the kitchen—coffee or a bite of lunch. For company, I turn on the TV and channel surf.

Years ago an infomercial starring Kevin Trudeau would invariably come on screen.

Trudeau was selling books with titles like:

  • "The Weight Loss Cure (They Don't Want You to Know About)" 
  • "Debt Cures (They Don't Want You to Know About)" 
  • "Natural Cures (They Don't Want You to Know About)"
  • "Free Money (They Don't Want You to Know About)"  

As a salesman, Kevin Trudeau was mesmerizing

  • He did not use PowerPoint.
  • He was natural. I could not tell if he used a teleprompter.
  • He talked to a live audience, but his manner was so intimate I felt he was talking to me through the TV set.
  • Trudeau did not have a little microphone pinned to the top of his shirt. Nor was he wired-up with one of those weird ear attachments from which a distracting microphone hung next to his mouth.
  • Instead, a hand-held microphone was his one prop. It was the same model as those used by pop singers. However, musical performers frequently hold the mic right up to the mouth and scream into it. Not only loud, but their faces are mostly half-covered.
  • Trudeau kept his microphone at bay, always showing full face with many endearing expressions and never shouting.
  • Above all, he was enthusiastic, believable and radiated honesty.
  • Kevin Trudeau made millions. His weight loss book alone sold 850,000 copies and generated $39 million in revenue.

Takeaways to Consider

 
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