Regular readers of my columns will know that my articles about conferences and presentations sometimes turn into dirty laundry airing sessions. It’s a fine line (no pun intended).
But recently 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 authentic, humble and self-deprecating 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 preened, polished and perfect and I really hope it stays that way, because they speak in a truly authentic, human, 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 short message (a few words at most) screen-printed 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).