Which brings me to last week or actually a few months before that, when I agreed to present a topic at Sage Summit in Atlanta. The topic they wanted me to give was “Stimulating Compliance”. It would be delivered to customers who used one of Sage’s products (Peachtree, MAS90,Accpac, MIP, or ACT! to name just a few). The moment I sent off my e-mail agreeing to the topic, I began to sweat. It wasn’t a hot flash. This was pure fear.
This session was to cover all of the regulatory compliance issues that are faced by businesses today plus a few tidbits from the Stimulus Package. I was going to be talking about tax law and government regulation for a solid hour. How exciting.
I spent days researching the laws that would impact a business owner, and let me tell you there a ton of them, but I had one heck of a time finding anything that had a speck of fun, interest, or excitement in it. And what’s more, people really needed to hear about some of this stuff as it could have serious implications for their business. I was absolutely stumped. I needed to provide some useful information but how could I make it interesting for them?
I decided to explain the rules and regulations and then identify ways that technology would help a business owner comply. I would attend the trade show at the conference ( the day before my session) and interview solution providers to find a compliance-related angle for their product. Needless to say, the vendors were just thrilled to talk about their product in a boring regulatory compliance light. But I trudged on with my mission and after a couple of hours of going booth by booth, I had enough technology to cut through almost all of the red-tape on my list.
I structured my presentation this way : area, problem, automated solution; area, problem, automated solution; repeat until I had worked through every area from Income tax to CANSPAM rules. But hey, you’re thinking. Where’s the interesting part?
I knew all of this automation could free up a lot of time for a business owner. So I made it my mission in the presentation to offer alternative uses for their newfound time.
All I can say is thank goodness for the Internet. I searched on “weird sports” – and found “Extreme Ironing.” Who doesn’t want to earn a gold medal in that? So I changed my structure to include area, problem, automated solution, thing to do in your spare time. The weirder the diversion, the funnier it was when I flashed a picture of the activity on my screen. I suggested activities ranging from “take up a new sport”, to “learn a new skill (fork bending)” to “start a collection”.
You can see a PDF of the presentation here if you want to see for yourself if I delivered on my promise.
This is a trick you can apply in almost every presentation. Use a diversionary tactic to add some sizzle/fun to your presentation.
For now, I’m just happy that I don’t need to change my tagline to : “I make almost any boring subject interesting.“