The big bang metaphor

This past Tuesday was a glorious day for astrophysicists. Observations by a telescope on the South Pole revealed the Big Bang’s smoking gun, providing mankind with a better understanding of the cosmos’ very earliest history and opening the door for more theories about the past and the future of our universe.

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But the Big Bang phenomenon is also a great metaphor to be used by presenters, as it stands for disruptive innovation, expansive growth and speed of execution.

In my blog posts “Highway 61 revisited” and “Easy as cherry pie” I have already given samples of how I use metaphors in my presentations. Here’s another one: “10 (Light) Years after the Big Bang” was the title of a talk I delivered at the 2005 Voice on the Net Conference, in which I elaborated on some radical changes that were rolling out in telecom networks.

I chose the Big Bang metaphor to illustrate how the legacy voice infrastructure was (literally) blown to pieces, with space related images explaining how technology and market disruptions had given birth to a new communications universe, ruled by a new architecture, with new applications and new business opportunities.

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You may view the full presentation on SlideShare. Please note that the deck is almost 9 years old, and that the market, my company, and the technology and product related content have obviously evolved since then.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Whenever a book has been issued, the first that meets the eye is the cover. The same counts for the title page of any presentation you deliver.

In one of my earlier posts I wrote about grabbing your audience’s attention by intriguing, surprising of provoking them. So let me try to intrigue and challenge you today. Based upon their titles and cover images, what topics would you imagine being addressed by the three presentations below?

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Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can also not always predict a presentation by its first slide. So here is what I actually introduced through the above visuals:

  • 10 (light) years after the “big bang”. From around 1995 onwards, traditional circuit switched telephony has been taken over by Voice over IP (VoIP) networks. Preparing a presentation to be delivered at the 2005 Voice on the Net conference in Stockholm, I decided to build my story around similarities between the evolution of the universe and the evolution of the internet. (view the full presentation on SlideShare)
  • Why do hand-picked cherries provide no guarantee for a tasty pie? If you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you may have seen that slide before. The subject of the presentation was a management tool for IMS networks. A rather technical topic that I introduced through a story about the challenges of baking a cherry pie… (view this presentation on SlideShare)
  • Making the volcano.  Inspired by a “volcano making kit” gadget I discovered while surfing the web, I once started a presentation skills workshop with a group discussion on “Why is a volcano a good metaphor for preparing and delivering a presentation?” Not an obvious exercise for the students in the room, but certainly a good starter for the seminar.