Making the volcano

I once started a presentation workshop with this exercise: “Describe how you would use a volcano as a metaphor for presenting your business plan to investors?”

As I wrote in my “begin the beginning” post, a query or a poll may be a good means for grabbing your audience’s attention. So the question resulted in an active brainstorming session, and the answers from the group included statements such as “it’s about fire and passion”, “an eruption of words”, “a mountain to climb”, “need to assess the risks”, …

Then I came up with my “volcano making kit”, a construction toy with fast drying plaster and paint that I found on the internet. I actually used it as a metaphor myself for introducing a series of tips, tools and best practices for preparing and delivering a business presentation – the kind of topics I frequently write about on this blog.

volcano_making_kit

And also my call for action at the end of the training stayed within the perimeter of the volcano, since I finished with one of my favorite Tom Peters quotes:

Tom_Peters_passion

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.