First up was the gymnast. Her job was to perk up the audience. It was 9am and it was the first day of the conference. The music was fun and the stretches felt good on the back and the butt. The woman next to me refused to play, I guess, thinking she was already perked, but really she seemed to be most in the need of perking.
Next up was the researcher. She started by sweetly thanking the committee for placing her right after the gymnast. It got a laugh – obvious and vulnerable truth always will – and then she went on. Brilliantly.
Rather than simply spew meaningless research, before providing “answers” she asked questions. Kind of like Jeopardy but totally different. She said: Tell me what you think. Do you think X went up or down? Do you think Y was better or worse? Do you think Z was more prevalent or less? After each question, she waited. And you know what happened? The 750+ attendees answered. Down. Better. Worse. And then, with her data, she confirmed or corrected. With her data! She spent 2 -3 minutes, talking to people who just expressed their opinion, and then wanted to find out if they were as smart as a 5th grader or not, explaining the research findings. She could have talked to us for 10 minutes or 20 about each point. But then, no one would have cared.
She involved us and then she taught us. Genius!
How do you make data interesting? How do you involve your listeners? How do you keep from being boring?