Start thinking like a burglar

Having company over is fun, except when they show up unexpectedly. Or worse, if they turn your whole house upside down.

That happened to me not so long ago.

It took me by surprise, but it did also provide me with an excellent analogy.

Burglar & Spider by Megan CoughlinHere’s the story:

I was informed by my local police office that a burglary prevention specialist would be coming by to share some tips on better securing my home.

This guy turned out to be a real expert, his goal being to turn the tables on the burglars.

‘Start thinking like a burglar’, he said confidently.

The Burglar
For a burglar outside the window frame is higher than for a person standing inside.

‘Locksmiths don’t understand this. Look at this window framework. They install locks at shoulder height, with the idea that burglars will use their shoulders to break open a window.

The problem is that you shouldn’t be measuring the burglar’s shoulder height within the house, but rather on the outside. These two could be at the same height, but often not.’

The police officer has already discussed this issue with several locksmiths, but their answer is always: ‘That’s just how I do it!’

What can this teach us about presenting?

Start thinking like your target group.

It’s all about how your audience perceives your presentation, and not so much about what you think about it.

How can you apply this to a presentation?

I once attended a presentation on the topic of time adults spend on sports. One of the slides read:

‘Office workers have less than 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week’

How would you improve this sentence?

The presentation was aimed at a broad audience. Keep in mind the burglars!

You could improve this sentence in various ways, but there is one key aspect that draws my attention:

the 150 minutes.

How many hours is that?

Right. Two and a half hours.

That did require some thinking.

So then, why say ‘150 minutes’, and not ‘2 and a half hours’?

Because researchers think in minutes, not in hours.

When presenting data, keep in mind your audience

Ask yourself: is this information meaningful, or could I present it differently, in a clearer way, to my audience?

Why not say this instead:

‘Office workers get less than 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week’

Turn the tables on those burglars and boost your presentation.