Educational classes don’t have to be Death by PowerPoint
Industry conferences, by their very nature, are boring – especially in the IT world where bits and bytes are thrown around with acronyms like PSTN, QoS, VoIP, QoE, MOS, just to name a few.
Starting Sunday we’ll be exhibiting and presenting at Avaya’s @IAUG #CONNECT2014 in Dallas, TX (Info). We were selected to present one of the five topics we submitted. Now the way I see it, either the people on the selection committee don’t have much of a sense of humor, or they like death by PowerPoint. Here are the titles of the four topics we submitted but were not accepted:
Si v. PSY: You Can’t DUCK New Technology! Embrace it Gangnam Style!
BIG LOVE – why you don’t have to be married to the same technology forever.
8 Simple Rules for Dating my IP system
Unified Communications – Finally smarter than a 5th grader
The one they did select is How to Make Sure Your BANDwidth is Not a One-Hit Milli Vanilli Wonder! We thought it would be fun to use some of our favorite bands as key references to talk about bandwidth. Our premise it that your technology should rock like a Hall of Fame band! And since REO Speedwagon is the closing act at the show, isn’t this a perfect tie-in?
So why weren’t the others selected? Are they too edgy? Last year we did the “Finally Smarter than a Fifth Grader” class and had over 60 people and received great reviews.
“Presentations are meant to inform, inspire, and persuade audiences. So why then do so many audiences leave feeling like they’ve wasted their time? All too often, presentations don’t resonate with the audience and move them to transformative action.” This is from a fantastic book we love called resonate. We love its take on making a strong connection with your audience and leading them to purposeful action. Sometimes it’s more like hand holding, but it’s never about slides full of words that your audience or – even worse – the presenter reads.
What makes VXSuite presentations difference is we engage the audience by using pop culture references, we tell lots of stories, and we make sure to interact with the crowd.
People are comfortable with things they know. And for some reason we know pop culture like nothing else. Americans are obsessed with music, television shows and celebrities. We reference movies to make a point. For the Big Love presentation we certainly aren’t condoning polygamy, but using that to talk about the hybrid environments so many customers are facing helps drive home the point.
Have you heard Doug’s @tolleylama ‘Socks in the Drawer’ story? It’s famous (if only in our office) about the division of responsibilities in his home. We tell it at shows and it was a big hit at our partner conference #VXMadness last month. The point is, people remember it when thinking about taking credit for the jobs they’re doing. We find our partners are working hard for their customers, albeit behind the scenes, to make their networks and phone systems perform well. If they don’t stop and tell their customers about the job they’re doing, the customer might jump ship.
Engaging the audience can also be a presentation win. For ‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader’ we do it in the style of the popular TV show to make the audience part of the presentation. Not everyone participates, but I guarantee you no one falls asleep. There’s no death by PowerPoint in VXSuite classes. Join us Wednesday, April 30th at 3:15 PM @IAUG for a fun time.
Amy Bailey is the Director of Content for VXSuite. She has been with the product line for almost 10 years. She’s the mother of one baseball-playing, Boy Scout son. Lover of the beach, the outdoors and anything to do with water.