Avoid the Data-Dump Doldrums

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data-dump headerData-dump presentations are guaranteed attention-killers. Information is important, but storytellers make that information meaningful. Add PowerPoint slides full of tables and tiny type to create a particularly excruciating audience experience.

The following statements are true. The description is accurate. But something’s missing.

WordPress is a content-management platform used to drive over seventy-five-million websites. Written with open-source technologies like PHP and MySQL, this free software is supported by a huge developer community that extends its functionality through thousands of free and commercial plugins. The aesthetics of WordPress sites are controlled by an endless selection of “themes”—templates that can be installed with a click.

Asleep yet? This technobabble might be understood by people who already know what WordPress is (and who therefore won’t benefit from the presentation), but as a data-dump, it fails to deliver meaningful information. Instead of explaining what WordPress is, this speaker would better serve an audience by explaining how WordPress will help them on their own content-sharing, storytelling journeys.

Imagine being able to create your own web content without having to write code. Over seventy-five-million web publishers have embraced a free technology called WordPress. A massive selection of add-ons known as “plugins” empowers you to add almost any functionality you can think of to your website. Want a shopping cart, an e-newsletter with a mailing list subscription form, a booking calendar, or an animated slideshow on your website? Plugins allow you to accomplish anything short of scratch-and-sniff. And when it comes to design, you can choose from thousands of WordPress “themes” that instantly change the look and feel of your message. Many allow you to customize colors, fonts and other design elements with an easy-to-use graphic interface. Share your message without battling technology. Give WordPress a try.

The rewrite isn’t about technology; it’s about people who have a conflict. They want to tell their stories, but they see technology as an intimidating obstacle. They don’t care about scripting languages or database technologies. They don’t care about the developer community. They’ll pay attention when they see that the presentation offers a solution to their problems. And to ensure they do pay attention, the conflict is stated in the opening line.

At the end, there’s a call to action. Readers are encouraged to “Share your message without battling technology. Give WordPress a try.” Though nothing is being sold in the commercial sense, the reader is asked to “buy” the idea.

A data-dump without context is not meaningful. Understand your listener’s story. Present your information as a tool they can use to journey from the stormy seas of conflict to the safe port of transformation.

 
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Dave Bricker: StorySailing®