Making it Concrete with Cookies

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How can you bring pizzazz to a presentation that focuses primarily on financial or numerical data? Here’s how Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s did it.

To get people’s attention, he created an animated short in which he described the deficit in terms of Oreo cookies and emailed it to a small group of people –  who then forwarded it on to their friends because it made fiscal policy accessible and easy to understand.

In his presentation Ben equated one cookie to 10 billion dollars. Using this formula, he stacked 40 cookies to represent the Pentagon’s yearly budget of four hundred billion dollars. To show how the government could address other pressing issues, Ben took 5 cookies off the pile and recommended using 1 cookie to rebuild schools, 1 to eliminate our need for Mideast oil, and 2 to feed the six million children around the world who go hungry. Then he split the last cookie in half and suggested using half to provide health insurance and a quarter to provide Head Start for every child that needs it.

In closing, he told his audience that they could eat the remaining 1/4 cookie, but not to choke because it represented 2.5 billion dollars.

More than 300,000 people signed up to receive more information, largely because they didn’t want to miss an entertaining and informative animation. So whether you use Oreos, animation, graphics, or handouts, treat your audience as people who like to be entertained.

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