One of my favorite scenes from Mad Men comes at the end of season 1, when Don pitches Eastman Kodak using a slide show from his own life…

There are many things I like about this scene. One of them is that Don knows his audience has a question (“What does this story about Teddy have to do with me?”), but for a full minute and fifty seconds (1:50), he does not answer that question. Only he knows the answer is going to come, and only he knows it will be worth the wait. While he tells the story he just has to have the confidence that he can carry the audience through to the answer.

Last week I gave this speech at Istanbul Toastmasters…

In the hours leading up to this speech, I kept telling myself, “Channel Don Draper, channel Don Draper,” because I was going to tell a story and, for five minutes and forty-five seconds (5:45), leave the question, “What does this story have to do with anything?” unresolved in the audience’s mind. I was going to have to have the confidence that I could carry the audience through to the answer.

A technique like this is risky because if you don’t pull it off, the audience will be more confused than if you never told the story. On the upside, if you pull it off, the audience will remember your point far better than if you didn’t tell the story. In the words of Don Draper, this technique is “delicate, but potent.”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.