What if your next presentation was like a boxing match?

I got a text from a friend the other day that said: “Did I tell you about the conference in Mexico which was set up like a boxing ring? Looked authentic, even had a ‘showdown’ fight (of words) with the presenters in boxing robes… by far the best conference design I’ve ever seen.” 

And he sent this photo:

Boxing Presentation

It got me wondering: why don’t we have more presentations and training programs like this?

Companies subject their employees to presentations about new policies or computer systems all the time. What if the old policies and computer systems were able to fight back? After all, if the company is so invested in new policies or computer systems that they’re making everyone change, then these new policies or systems should be able to handily defeat any obsolete, aging challenger, right?

Can you imagine? An all-staff presentation with the hoopla and fanfare of a boxing match?

“In this corner, hailing from the files of ‘we’ve always done it this way’, the reigning champion… Microsoft Excel spreadsheets!”

“And in this corner, from Silicon Valley, California… the heavyweight challenger: Saaaaaaaaaaaaalesfooooooooooorce!”

Instead of a boring, traditional spec sheet or God forbid death-by-PowerPoint presentation, show the “Tale of the Tape” that allows people to see the key advantages that each, in theory, hold over the other.

Organizational change can be stressful for individuals and often yields resistance. Laying out the case for change in a fun and holistic way, where both sides can be fairly represented and where one side (hopefully the new policy or system) holds a clear advantage, organizations may be able to reduce that resistance to change.

Beyond policies and systems, there’s a long list of presentations I’d love to see in the world of learning and development with a boxing match format:

  • PowerPoint vs. Flipchart
  • Mr. Sketch Markers vs. Sharpies vs. Dry Erase (a 3-way grudge match!)
  • Elearning vs. Classroom-based Instruction
  • Elearning vs. Webinar
  • Designing using Lesson Plans vs. Throwing a Presentation Together using Only PowerPoint
  • Masters program vs. Professional Certification
  • Traditional LMS vs. Embedded Performance Support tools
  • Smile Sheet evaluations vs. Pre/Post-testing vs. On-the-Job Performance Observation
  • Lecture vs. Gamification
  • Desktop vs. Mobile Learning
  • Formal Training vs. Performance Support
  • Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

How about you… are there any workplace concepts or debates you’d like to see square off in the ring during a presentation or industry conference?

2 thoughts on “What if your next presentation was like a boxing match?

  1. Love the idea of a creative approach to communications and presentations – both need extra energy in the workplace. The challenge with the boxing example is that it can come across fairly masculine/Western culture. I might try a game show format with similar battle of wits instead. And how about machine learning vs. instructor led training?

    • Thanks for the comment… and the reminder to ensure that training design does not unintentionally exclude people from wanting to engage. I absolutely see your point about the connection between boxing and a more masculine/testosterone-laden approach.

      At the same time, I wonder if an approach that gets some excited and pushes others who are not as familiar with the approach (in this case, a boxing-style presentation format) out of their comfort zone can actually be a good thing?

      For example, when I was designing a multi-day workshop in India, I was repeatedly reminded to integrate lengthy tea breaks into the schedule. This was decidedly not a western-style approach to presentation design/scheduling and yet by embracing something a little more unfamiliar, we were able to build opportunities to network and grow relationships. Is it possible that as long as the design is intentional and consideration has been given to the fact that not everyone would be comfortable with an activity, that it can actually be a blessing in disguise?

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