The Cherokee, the wolf and the three C’s of presenting


Julkaistu 31.10.2017

When you want to sell your idea and aspire action, the three C’s you must work on are concept, contrast and call to action. But what does a Cherokee and a wolf have to do with it? Don’t worry, I’ll get there in a moment. Now let’s start with concept.


Communicate your concept like a designer

Everyone sells something to someone all the time. If it is not a product or service, it is an idea or perspective, a thought or concept. You sell thoughts constantly at work, at home and to your friends. If your thought is simple enough, you have a shot at getting it understood and bought.

This is especially relevant for leaders, influencers and sales people to be good at.

The presentation designer and the concept

Aim to sell one idea at a time stripped from everything unnecessary. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who was a writer among other things, said

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Keep this in mind the next time you want to persuade someone. Tell them the idea, your perspective of it and what is at stake if you or they do not act accordingly.

Read more here about the ten commandments of good (presentation) design.

Use contrasting to really nail the point down.


Create contrast like the Cherokee

Use contrast to describe all the good things that can come of making the wise decision of acting on your idea and all the bad things that can come from failing to do so.

Certain word choices virtually scream the pitting against of the two choices. Play around with the contrast. See how far you can take it while still keeping it credible.

Contrasting is all about painting a mental picture of the pain or pleasure, or the fear or faith one can feel. And this is where the Cherokee and the wolf come in. I found this story in the book The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. I recommend the book and I recommend you read on.

An elder Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people

The two wolfs in the Cherokee is a metaphor for contrast in a presentation

“My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern, uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision and inaction. The other is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement and action.”

The grandson thought about it for a moment and then meekly asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”

Decide what you want your audience to feel and feed that feeling

Feed faith by telling your audience what better is ahead for those who dare to make the journey as you propose it.

Tell the audience what they risk to lose and what kind of pain they are in for if they don’t change, or what they can gain and what kind of pleasure they can enjoy once they have changed and followed your way.

Once your audience feels what you feel, they are ready for a call-to-action. As William Magee from Operation Smile, says:

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Read more here about how emotions can never be wrong in presenting.


Call to action like Nancy Duarte

Now that you’ve set the stage for action through painting a picture of the pain or pleasure and brought out some emotions, you’ve prepared your audience to make a decision and take the next step.

Tell your audience clearly what you want them to do and when. Writer, speaker and CEO – or as I refer to her – the presentation guru, Nancy Duarte explains each type of an audience member in the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.

Nancy divides all audience members into four categories: doers, suppliers, influencers and innovators. You may have some or all of them in your audience. And you can decide to speak to only some or all of these roles also in a sales meeting.


Let’s say you are selling expertise or a B2B-service. In your audience…

  • The Doer can help move things concretely forward by making sure any activities you have agreed upon will get done.
  • The Supplier can provide you with any resources you need to get forward, such as materials or right people to speak with.
  • The Influencer can act as your evangelist if you’ve managed to persuade her.
  • And finally, the Innovator can take your idea and run with it, and come up with a way for their organisation to get the most out of your idea, expertise or service.


Prepare to speak to all of these roles and you will be able to address the right roles with the right calls to action, once you’ve identified what type of role you have the pleasure of doing business with that day.

Starts applying these tips today! And if you want me to help you with it, book a chat with us here!

The audience of your presentation


P.S. The linked posts are both inspired by our Master the Art of Presenting speakers John Zimmer and Florian Mueck.