Why explaining to a six-year-old really works

In the early 1980s, Richard Petty and John Cacioppo developed a model called Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) describing how persuasion alters attitudes. Without delving into too much detail, ELM proposes that if your audience possesses both the motivation and requisite skills to understand your message, they are influenced ‘centrally’ or by what you present. On the other hand, if your audience lacks either the motivation or skills, they can still be influenced ‘peripherally’ or by how you present.

This highlights two seemingly competing objectives presenter’s face. The first is to maximise your ability to centrally influence your audience by distilling and simplifying sophisticated messages ensuring your audience has both the motivation and skills to understand it. Albert Einstein famously said, ‘If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself’. The second objective is to influence your audience with an engaging presentation at least peripherally.

Satisfying both goals is easier when you have a repeatable technique to structure and script your material. Make your next webinar, video and presentation great with an engaging introduction, an easy to recall structure and a professional presentation technique.