Powerful presentation supporting fire sprinklers stuns legislators

Blog Post created by freddurso Employee on Jul 27, 2015


I wanted to resurrect a 2011 post from blogger Brad Phillips, since its message is timeless.


The way you present home fire sprinklers to the public or decision makers is just as important as your content. Captivating presentations keep your audience engaged, and have the power to affect change. 


Such was the case for Rob Feeney, a burn survivor who was at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, when a massive fire injured him and killed 100 people, including his fiancée. Following training by the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, Feeney has since advocated for sprinklers in a variety of settings, including new homes. Feeney delivered this emotional presentation in support of new sprinkler requirements in Tennessee:



As for why this video was so effective, Phillips offers these tips:


1. He began with a powerful analogy. Rob was only allowed three minutes to testify, so he began his testimony with this sentence: “The irony is that in three minutes…96 people in the Station Nightclub fire lost their life …including my fiancée and two of our friends.”

He continued to use that analogy throughout his testimony. Thirty seconds into his testimony, he talked about what was happening in the nightclub at the 30-second mark, and he continued to use that powerful device throughout his testimony.


2. He started small, then zoomed out. Toward the end of his testimony, Rob listed a series of major fires with their related death tolls. But that list wouldn’t have been effective if he had started with it. Instead, Rob started “small” – with his personal story – and then zoomed out to the larger picture. By beginning with something concrete, it made it much easier for the audience to understand the abstract. 


3. He was emotional. Rob’s emotion underscored just how “real” this issue was. But what struck me was how he managed it. When he got overwhelmed, he just put his head down, paused for a few seconds, and resumed when he was ready. Perfect.


4. He was on message. Even though he was emotional, Rob never lost sight of his objective. Everything he said was intended to convey that message to the members of the City Council.


Media professional Brad Phillips has worked closely with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivorsto help its advocates spread messages on burn injury and prevention, including the importance of home fire sprinklers. He is the author of The Media Training Bible and the Mr. Media Training Blog.  

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