WIIFM Principle: The Secret To Grabbing Audience Attention

6 Min Read · Aug 30, 2015 · by Henry Low


What is the secret to getting attention from your audience?

It is not an easy question to answer.

However, I am sure you know some presenters who just seem to be able to grab their audience interest in every presentation they give.

How do they do it? Do they know some secrets that you don’t?

The honest answer is Yes!

There are certain principles they observe while preparing and delivering their presentation.

And today I am going to show you one of those principles which I believe is one of the most important among all.


What Makes People Listen Attentively To You?

With all the talk about presentation tips and tricks, it is easy to forget a little thing that happens to be the foundation of all presentation: Audience.

I am not exaggerating when I say that without the audience, there is no presentation.

But too many presenters seem to forget about that.

Many revolve their presentations around themselves, their company, their products, their achievement etc.

As an audience member, why should I care? I only care about how the information will benefit me.

They need to tell their audience what they can do for them, not what they do. Their audience is only thinking about “What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM)”.

Observe this principle in your next presentation and see how your audience give their full attention to you.


Creating Slides Using WIIFM Principle: A Mini-Case Study

In many sales presentations, there is always a slide on About Us providing some information about the company.

It is one of the most non-audience centric slides in the whole deck.

It contains information like how long the company has been around, how many branches they have, their staff strength etc.

The sad truth is those information may be interesting to you as a sale person but it is something your customer is least interested.

Am I suggesting that you should skip that slide? Absolutely not.

Let me show you a better way to approach the About Us slide using the WIIFM principle.

Case Study Scenario

John is the sales director of NutriFood and he is about to give a presentation at an annual Gourmet Food and Wine Expo. He will be introducing his company’s fruit jams to a group of food connoisseur.

This is how his About Us slide looks like.

Like most people, John is likely to end up reading through each of his bullet point on the slide.

These facts may be significant to John but it has absolutely nothing to do with the food connoisseur listening to him.

Those facts may be impressive as an achievement from the company point of view but the food connoisseur will not get impress.

They need to understand what those facts mean to them and why it is important to them.

Always tell people what is in it for them. Never tell people what you do.

It is so important to start talking about the benefits rather than the facts about your company.


The 2 Step Approach to WIIFM Principle

Slide makeover using the WIIFM principle involved two simple steps.

Step 1: Translate fact into benefit.

Step 2: Enhance with visual.

Let me show you each step in more detail…


Step 1: Translate fact into benefit

There is no shortcut here. Go through each of your bullet point and think why it is relevant to the audience and how they can benefit from it.

For example, the first point in the case study is

“NutriFood is a privately owned family company since its founding in 1976.”

The audience do not really care when the company is founded and whether it remains a privately owned family business.

What the audience will be interested is whether the brand is reputable.

Let us rephrase this point from that angle. I will transform it into

“A reliable family brand you can trust.”


Let us try again with the second point.

“We produce 8 types of organic fruit jams.”

It is important for John to mention the number of products he is offering. However, can we do better than that?

In this context, the product is something that people eat in the morning during breakfast. Having a good breakfast to start a day is what most people would like to have.

I will transform the second point into

“A healthy start to your day”

You may be asking this: “But I still need to mention about the 8 types of fruit jams?”

Do not worry. I have not forgotten about that piece of information. Hold on for a moment and I will come back to that in step 2.


Let us continue with the second last point.

“Our production facility is located in the Aquitaine region of Southwest France.”

As a consumer of the product, they really do not bother with the location of the factory unless it has an impact to the product quality or taste.In this example, Aquitaine region is an area known for its culinary excellence as well as the famous wines of Bordeaux.

Locating in this region allow easy access to the best and freshest ingredients to make the best jams possible. This is something that the consumer will care for.

Thus, I will transform this point into

“Bringing you the finest jams from the Aquitaine Region”


Finally, here is the last point.

“We have obtained GMP certification and have awarded an ‘A’ rating.”

Having a GMP certification is a big achievement for the company. However, for most consumers, they are unaware about this certification, let alone appreciate the benefit it brings.We have to translate this point into a direct benefit for them.

Having a GMP certification indicate that the company has a system to ensure the products produced are consistent and adhere to a high quality standard. The consumer will enjoy a high quality product consistently. I will word this point as

“No compromise on your product quality and taste.”

Let us look at the slide after translating the fact into benefit.

Look better?

We are not done yet … Moving on to the second part of the transformation.


Step 2: Enhance with visual

In this step, create a slide for each of the bullet point.

Here is an example for the first bullet point. Next, add in some visual to aid in bringing the message across and to beautify the slide.
Here is the final version for the first point. Repeat the process for the rest of the 3 points.
Here is the completed slide for the second point.
Here is the completed slide for the third point.

Here is the completed slide for the last point.

All the makeover for the About Us slides is completed.


Which Version Do You Prefer?

Which of those slides would John rather use in his next presentation?

Do you want to use the original single slide or do you want to use the transformed slides based on the WIIFM principle?

The WIIFM principle works for one simple reason:

It creates an audience-focused experience that will set you apart from the other presenters.

Remember, always ask yourselves these questions:

What’s in it for my audience?

What will my audience take away from it?

Why is it relevant to my audience?

Why will my audience find it interesting?