Wise men say

For the past decades I have worked and presented in the very fast-moving telecommunications environment (not only FMCG is moving fast…), which is driven by technology innovation and the need for more speed, capacity and bandwidth. A world where you have to deal with audiences of highly skilled engineers, that often get carried away by jargon, acronyms and the nitty-gritty details.

So, how do you open or broaden a high-tech conversation? Sometimes it helps to use a quote. Here are a few ones I have used to catch the attention of (or provoke or challenge) the people in the room.

Moore’s law is probably the best known “forward-looking statement” in the history of computing hardware. Around 1965, Intel founder Gordon Moore made the observation that there is a continual increase in the density of electronic equipment (“doubling each 18 months”). Although originally formulated for the number of components in integrated circuits, the prediction has turned out to be applicable to processor speed, hard disk capacity, network bandwidth, and other ICT domains too, and –which is most remarkable– it is still holding true after more than 4 decades!

This is why I often quote Gordon Moore to set the tone for debates about product evolution. As Moore’s law is telling us that the increase in capacity and performance (combined with the decrease in size and cost per unit) is a given fact, we should not worry too much about the availability of enabling technology for future products, but rather focus on how we are going to create value from it.

About 2 years ago, I discovered this fruity statement on Twitter. It’s a great quote about the changing end-user devices offering, and the complexity it brings to service providers and application developers. I have used it several times to shift the conversation from “creating complexity” to “dealing with opportunities”.

Here’s another one. In 1977, the year the Apple II was introduced, DEC founder Ken Olsen predicted that computers would never make it to our living room. Today’s reality is that most of us have at least one (and often more than one) personal computer, laptop or tablet on hand and that personal computing has become a multi-trillion euro market.

I am using Ken Olsen’s quote to tell my audience that there is no crystal ball and that even the brightest people sometimes hit the ball wrong. A good lesson on modesty, as well as an excellent way to lead people into a (sometimes very productive) “what-if…” exercise.

If you got inspired by the sayings of these wise (and less wise) men, then give it a try and add an appropriate quote to your presentation. It may help you to lead your techy audience into a broader conversation about “how can we work together to shape the future” and lift the dialogue above technology features, product details, network architectures and solution roadmaps.

More tips & tricks on the use of quotes in your speech can be found in a recent Six Minutes article by Andrew Dlugan.


5 thoughts on “Wise men say

  1. I love the way you’ve formatted those slides, Marc, and they make great illustrations for your post.

    In business presentations, I believe using quotes (well-chosen and well-presented) is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. As such, it’s one of the tips in a presentation approach I call the FiRST framework.

    You can get an overview of that at http://remotepossibilities.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/5-ways-to-be-a-top-presenter/

    Keep on blogging!

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