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.


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.





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.

Mr. Watson, come here!

Although one always has to be cautious when using humor in presentations (read my “monkey see, monkey do” post  for an example on how not to do it), a well-chosen joke can be good to (re)gain the audience’s attention and a cartoon is sometimes a welcome alternative for boring stock clip art.

One of my favorite resources to tap from for business presentations is of course Dilbert, a recognizable stereotype for tech-company employees (that often happen to be in the audiences I present to…). Also Randy Glasbergen offers a large catalog of great cartoons.

I am also lucky to have a professional cartoonist among my friends, that once created a few exclusive drawings for one of my conference talks. The full slide show is available on SlideShare, but telecom industry outsiders may need some explanation about the dialogs below.

As my presentation addressed the evolution of telecommunications services from traditional voice telephony to text messaging, video and multimedia, I first showed a takeoff on Alexander Graham Bell, who once invented the first telephone.


As early as in 1876, Thomas Watson, assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, had the dubious honor of being the first worker ever summoned by his boss via the phone. Through the famous words “Mr. Watson, come here.” Can you imagine this same scene more than 130 years later, when voice communication has (partly) been taken over by video? (note that I created the original presentation for an industry event in 2009, and that the 2013 Mr. Watson would probably show up on a mobile device rather than on a PC screen.)


The last part of my talk was addressing a roadmap for the replacement of old telephony (also known as the Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN) by next-generation multimedia services, offered through an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). An operation that takes time (actually, this migration is still going on today), and assumes a temporary cohabitation of the old and the new communications infrastructure and services (as shown in the 3rd cartoon, with sincere apologies to my mother-in-law.)


As a final note, never forget to mention the cartoonist and acknowledge his copyrights. My sincere thanks to Carré Cartoons, and keep up the good work!

Other articles about Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson:


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.