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?

ten_years_after_the_big_banghandpicked cherriesmaking_the_volcano

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.

Easy as cherry pie

A few blog posts ago, I talked about using metaphors as a means to talk about complex technical topics to non-technical audiences. Throughout my career as a presenter, I have used figure of speech at many occasions. Here’s another example of a public talk I gave a few years ago (together with a colleague from a partner company) at an industry conference.

Throughout my career as a presenter, I have used figure of speech at many occasions. Here’s an example of a public talk I did a few years ago (together with a colleague from a partner company) at an industry conference.

As the subject of the presentation –a  configuration management and audit tool for IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) networks– was rather technical (and probably rather boring for some part of the audience too), I decided to surprise and entertain the crowd with a story about the challenges of baking a cherry pie…

handpicked cherriesCherrypicking” is a term that is often used in the ICT industry to describe the practice of buying and integrating a number of best-in-class or best-in-price components that are often supplied by different manufacturers. So, the implicit message behind the presentation’s title is that you cannot simply drop multi-vendor equipment into a network and expect everything to work fine… And as such you need to adopt a lifecycle management approach supported by proper configuration management and audit tools.

As the cherry theme provided me with good visual material, that could support different facets of the key message, I used it as a fil rouge throughout the whole slideshow.

cherry theme

You may view the original presentation on SlideShare.

Guidelines for finding the right metaphors to spark your presentations and using them effectively can be found in these Way Beyond Ordinary and SOAP Presentations blog posts.