Presenting is Selling: What We Can Learn From Advertising

photo: The Lane Team

Presenting is never just about talking, it’s about making your message memorable, it’s about making your product or service desirable, it’s about selling your ideas to your audience.

What better way for us to learn how to sell our ideas than to study an advertising master?

One of the most successful and respected advertising executives was David Ogilvy, he has been called “The Father of Advertising” and he can teach us all a lot about getting our audience to buy into our message.


It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.

Every great speech should have one big idea, one core idea that the audience can grasp and understand.

Find your big idea.


Good copy can’t be written with tongue in cheek, written just for a living. You’ve got to believe in the product.

As mentioned in my Five Elements of the Perfect Speech, being visibly passionate about your topic is essential to get your audience to accept your message. Following the same logic, it is necessary for your audience to see that you believe in your message and the ideas that you’re presenting to them.

If you believe then they will be more likely to believe.

Speak in Their Language

I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.

In order to connect with your audience, the most effective way is to make it relevant to them. Use their language, use ideas and experiences that are familiar to them, bring your message into their world.

Make it Concrete

The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.

As we learnt from “Made to Stick” in order to make your message more real for your audience you need to give more information, to make it concrete. The more details you give, the more tangible your idea and like Doubting Thomas, if they can see it and touch it, they can believe it.

Make it Personal

I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive.

We know that telling stories can create a connection between you and your audience, the stories stimulate their imaginations and gets them emotionally involved with your message but if you tell them a personal story not only will they connect emotionally with your message but they will also connect emotionally with you as a person because you are no longer a voice with a message but instead a real flesh-and-blood person like them. By making yourself real to them, they connect to your message through you, making it all so much stronger.