3 Keys to Having Fun With Content As a Subject Matter Expert

How many times have you gone to a conference, looked through the schedule and only found boring topics and titles? Worse yet, you discovered a session that sounded intriguing—but the title ended up being the only good thing about it?

Well I’m about to share three tips to help you avoid putting audience members through the same exact experience the next time you present. You’ll be able to grab their attention and deliver something truly unforgettable.

That’s When It Hit Me!

A few years ago, I was preparing for a presentation and began thinking about two masters—Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds. Pondering an angle I wanted to take, I dug up a video on YouTube for some inspiration. It was actually a presentation by Garr Reynolds at Duarte, Nancy’s studio in Northern California.

Watch the first 5 minutes, until Garr discusses life before Powerpoint…a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away….

Garr Reynolds at Duarte

That’s when it hit me! Plain as day, I saw a way to have fun with my content that both entertained and educated. This opened the door to some killer presentations that audience members still rave about today.

Going Beyond A Catchy Title

An engaging presentation title is only the tip of the iceberg. You need to quickly pull attendees into the material. Sure, great content is essential—but it must be packaged in a unique way. This keeps people on the edge of their seats while listening to your message. Not to mention, it practically creates a title that writes itself and gets people excited about the session.

Three Keys To Having Fun

1. Wrap content in your passion. As a subject matter expert, you’re naturally passionate about your expertise. That alone will not captivate your audience. You must find something quirky or fascinating that resonates. Garr Reynolds blended his love of Star Wars (make sure you watch the first 5 minutes of the video) to both convey and illustrate his message. Taking this approach a few years back—I utilized my appreciation of old school hip-hop to teach marketing strategies and tactics. Audience members said the following:

This was one of the best sessions I attended. An excellent way to connect education with something interesting—I was captivated!!

The energy in this session drew everyone in—quite a coup for the time of day.

That’s how a presentation should be done. Engaging and exciting.

2. Keep things grounded. While this approach can empower the creation of compelling content, it can also get out of hand real quick. Gushing about the latest Netflix series with very little connection to your message will foster an awkward situation. Keep things relevant with key learning objectives—audience takeaways you’ve identified in advance. Use that Netflix series to illustrate the narrative arc of your content. What lessons can be learned? What quotes could be highlighted? What clip might you play to drive home a certain principle?

3. There’s a time and place for everything. You must know your audience. Have fun and be interesting, but also be respectful. Some things might not fly with certain audiences. Don’t assume your unique interest will resonate with all people. Dial yourself into the needs and desires of the specific group of folks coming to hear you. Old school hip-hop may resonate with Gen X-ers from the early MTV era, but might fall flat with Baby Boomers who have the soundtrack to Forrest Gump on repeat. Thoroughly think through what’s most appropriate for the venue.

Be Intentionally Creative

When you do this, I promise audiences will be enchanted.
I’ve used things like Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, Walt Disney’s innovations, Steve Jobs’ product launches, and of course—old school hip-hop. I didn’t jam these interests into my presentation without thought. Take the time to layout a compelling case using wonderfully charming stories and illustrations. When you do this, I promise audiences will be enchanted. They’ll reference your presentation when tackling the problem you’ve helped them solve. They’ll also remember it for years to come.


What passion or interests do you have that will delight, entertain, and educate while conveying your message with clarity? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook.


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