Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Injecting Humor in a Presentation on a Dry Topic; Eric Schurenberg Shines

Clients often tell me that one of their biggest challenges is inserting a bit of humor into their presentations, especially if they are speaking on something “dry” or very technical. In response, and somewhat reflexively, I remind them about the power of metaphorical language. Of course, there are other ways to enliven a dull topic.

This morning, while reviewing the Oct. 13 edition of PBS’s highly-regarded “Nightly Business Report,” recorded during my recent four weeks of travel, I burst out with laughter when I heard Eric Schurenberg, editor-in-chief of, utter the words shown below in Italics while speaking about an unusual estate-tax avoidance opportunity that exists this year:

"2010 offers a tax-avoidance opportunity that is to die for, literally. This year, for the first time since 1916, the families of people who die will face not a penny in estate taxes. Draw a breath in 2011, however, and under current law your heirs will owe the government 55% of your taxable estate of above $1 million. Out of that ..."

It’s a fantastic example of how a bit of imaginative wording can animate something dry and desiccated.

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