How do I make boring data interesting?

Last night I heard the young tenor Juan Gambina sing here in Washington DC. It was a small gathering, and so we were able to sit close to him. What caught my attention – in addition to his great voice – were the intensity of his facial expressions, and particularly the range of movement of his eyebrows. I am not trying to contradict yesterday’s post, and argue for increasing the importance of body language. Instead I want to suggest that his face and body expressed a passion for the music that was inside him, rather than something he does primarily for effect.

But it’s easy to be passionate when your material is inherently fascinating – in this case some of the most beautiful music the world has ever heard. What do you do when you’re dealing with boring data?

And the answer – I think – is that the interest is not in the data itself, but in what it allows your audience to do. Every presentation you make should be focused on helping to solve a problem that your audience has. Instead of just presenting some research describing customer preferences, for example, concentrate your presention on explaining how your audience’s products aren’t currently meeting customer preferences, and what they can do about it. If you’re trying to solve a problem for them, then whatever you give them is going to be interesting to them.

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