Posted by on Aug 30, 2015 in Blog, Context | 0 comments

What makes a baseball game and presentation interesting and memorable?

Baseball games and technical presentations can both be incredibly boring. But there’s something that can make both a ball game and presentation interesting and memorable.

And no, it’s not a cold beer (although that might help in both situations).

In 1967, I was a geeky kid growing up in Boston who memorized the stats of my favorite Red Sox players. I thought I could impress my junior high classmates by reciting Carl Yastrzemski’s Triple Crown numbers (.326 BA, 44 HR, and 121 RBI in case you were wondering). They weren’t impressed – they were bored by numbers that had no meaning to them.

Ten years later, I was a geeky engineer at Motorola who presented technical specifications like they were baseball stats. I thought I could impress my customers and colleagues by memorizing and reciting specs. At first, I couldn’t understand why my presentations were greeted with yawns and bored expressions.

It took me a long time to realize the error I was making.

Here’s what baseball taught me about transforming a dull technical presentation into an interesting and memorable talk. The numbers only matter when you add context.

When the ball game’s on the line, the manager needs information to make an informed decision. It’s the context of the situation – the big inning – that makes statistics meaningful. A pinch hitter’s past performance with runners in scoring position against left handed pitchers becomes significant if, and only if, your team is in that situation.

Are you adding enough context to your technical presentations? Here’s a tip to help make your next talk a hit.

Instead of going through a list of features and specs, think of a situation where the managers in your audience need to make a choice. The more urgent the circumstances, the better.

Can you find a situation that’s their “big inning”? It doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a World Series game, but be sure to pick something where the outcome of the decision makes a difference. You need context to show them why the technical specs of your offering make it the best choice in their specific situation.

Watch the short video below (it’s only 99 seconds long) to learn more about adding context to a technical talk.

Here’s the takeaway: Add audience-specific context and you’ll walk off with a winning pitch.