Air­ing your dirty laun­dry at con­fer­ences

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Andrew Klein, pro­fes­sional MC and pre­sen­ta­tion skills speaker and di­rec­tor of SPIKE Pre­sen­ta­tions, presents his front line ob­ser­va­tions on con­fer­ences in a reg­u­lar fea­ture in BEN.

REG­U­LAR read­ers of this col­umn will know that my ‘Con­fes­sions’ ses­sions some­times turn into dirty laun­dry air­ing ses­sions. It’s a fine line (no pun in­tended).

But last week at a con­fer­ence in Dar­win, I wit­nessed one of the sim­plest, most cre­ative and in­spir­ing pre­sen­ta­tions that I had seen for a long time which lit­er­ally in­volved the pre­sen­ters air­ing their dirty laun­dry.

Or­ange Sky Laun­dry is the world’s first free mo­bile laun­dry ser­vice for the home­less. Their laun­dry vans op­er­ate all over the coun­try, run by a huge crew of vol­un­teers. Im­por­tantly, this won­der­ful ini­tia­tive does not just clean the clothes of home­less peo­ple, thereby pro­vid­ing them with dig­nity, it also pro­vides con­ver­sa­tion for the home­less in the hour it takes to wash and dry their clothes. Last year, the two young twenty-some­thing cre­ators Nic March­esi & Lu­cas Patch­ett were hon­oured as the first ever dual re­cip­i­ents of the Young Aus­tralian of the Year Award.

Putting aside how two au­then­tic, hum­ble and self­dep­re­cat­ing these guys come off on stage (think an in­tro­verted Hamish and Andy) what struck me was that their con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tion dis­played a bril­liant ex­am­ple of how to present in­for­ma­tion dif­fer­ently and sim­ply – putting their prod­ucts and ser­vices at the cen­tre of the de­liv­ery.

Given that ‘cre­at­ing con­ver­sa­tions’ is just as im­por­tant part of their com­mu­nity ser­vice as laun­dry, they com­bined the two on stage. The two guys ap­peared to be hav­ing a very re­laxed con­ver­sa­tion, with each other and with the au­di­ence, in which they ba­si­cally just told their story. Their de­liv­ery was not pol­ished and per­fect and I hope it stays that way, be­cause they are speak in a truly au­then­tic, home-spun, cap­ti­vat­ing style.

And their master stroke? They schlepp a make-shift hills-hoist on stage, with pegged laun­dry items hang­ing off it. Each time they told a story or high­lighted a key mes­sage, a cloth­ing item would be un­pegged and held up to the au­di­ence, each item fea­tured a cor­re­spond­ing 1 or 2 word mes­sage screen­printed on the shirt, t-shirt or tracky-dack. Sim­ple. Colour­ful. Mem­o­rable. And im­por­tantly from a pre­sen­ta­tion per­spec­tive, dif­fer­ent!! Not one tired Pow­erPoint slide in sight.

A per­fect ex­am­ple of pre­sent­ing your key mes­sages in a novel style. I strug­gled to think of the last time I saw any­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent dur­ing a con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tion? For two hum­ble guys who are giv­ing all their time, money and ef­fort to grow­ing their im­por­tant and in­no­va­tive ini­tia­tive, I hope they clean-up on the con­fer­ence cir­cuit (pun def­i­nitely in­tended).

If you are looking for an MC for your next con­fer­ence or a speaker/trainer on pre­sen­ta­tion skills or pitch­ing skills, email andrew@lunch.com.au or visit his web­site at www.an­drewk­lein.com.au.

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