Power of Examples

The power of examples is huge, and it’s probably underestimated.

Recently, I went to a private equity firm. They were asking me to help sell a portfolio company that they owned.

Of course, the presentation was really slick. They had a bunch of financial terms: EBITDA, CAGR, P&L for almost every month that the company had been in existence. It was a highly quantitative, highly mathematical presentation, and when they finished delivering it to me, I said, “I have two concerns.”

Here is what my concerns were.

First, they did not make any claims about the value or greatness of the company. Second, they didn’t have any sort of examples in the presentation to evoke the culture of the company.

So I asked them, “What’s the biggest message you want to deliver?”

They said, “That’s simple. We have an unrivaled foundational I.T. infrastructure that nobody in our industry can compete with.”

“Well, good, that’s one. Find two others,” I suggested. To jump start the process, I said, “Give me an example of something you are proud of in your company.”

They said, “Every year we get trophies coming in the door because of the speed of our delivery. We out-Amazon Amazon in terms of speed of delivery.”

And I said, “Well, that’s it! Let’s get more of those things into this presentation. And I bet you, you’ll sell your company for a higher price than you would expect.”


In conclusion, putting examples into a presentation is important, but it is especially critical when you need to deliver a lot of data.

For my clients, I tell the people working in finance and pharma how essential this is to their ability to persuade others. The data is what drives their work, but the examples help hook the listeners and provide a framework. In short, examples help make the data more “human.”

All in all, the power of examples isn’t a mystery. Stories allow people to see how the company ticks, and they let listeners see who you really are.

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