2 Nov 2010
For most of us, bar codes are eye-wateringly dull. But they don’t have to be that way.
As these pictures show, you can do anything you like with a barcode, as long as the electronic reader can still recognise it.
You can see loads more examples here.
That got me thinking. Many presentations are to tell people about why something is changing. And most of the time, you want to convince people that it’s a change for the better.
You could use these examples as background slides, and say something like, “We don’t have to do things the traditional, boring way. Like these barcode designers, we’ve taken a fresh look at an old problem – and here’s the result.”
It’s a neat, visual way to get your point across. And it makes it memorable, too.
Don’t forget to credit the Japanese design company, D-Barcode, in the small print at the end of your presentation. Not only do they deserve the exposure, but they charge $1000s for each image. You don’t want them chasing you for money!
29 Oct 2010
Yesterday’s video post on Seth Godin and his remarkable presentation style has generated loads of hits – you can see it here. So here’s some more from Seth, this time on how to use PowerPoint.
You can read his excellent blog at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog
Perhaps you’ve experienced it. You do a presentation and it works. It works! That’s the reason we keep coming back for more, that’s why so many of us spend more time building and giving presentations than almost anything else we do.
Here are some steps to achieve this level of PPT nirvana (Your mileage may vary. These are steps, not rules):
- Don’t use Powerpoint at all. Most of the time, it’s not necessary. It’s underkill. Powerpoint distracts you from what you really need to do… look people in the eye, tell a story, tell the truth. Do it in your own words, without artifice and with clarity. There are times Powerpoint is helpful, but choose them carefully.
- Use your own font. Go visit Smashing Magazine and buy a font from one of their sponsors or get one of the free ones they offer. Have your tech guy teach you how to install it and then use it instead of the basic fonts built in to your computer. This is like dressing better or having a nicer business card. It’s subtle, but it works.
- Tell the truth. By this I don’t mean, “don’t lie,” (that’s a given), I mean “don’t hide.” Be extremely direct in why you are here, what you’re going to sell me (you’re here to sell me something, right? If not, please don’t waste your time or mine). It might be an idea, or a budget, but it’s still selling. If, at the end, I don’t know what you’re selling, you’ve failed.
- Pay by the word. Here’s the deal: You should have to put $5 into the coffee fund for every single word on the wordiest slide in your deck. 400 words costs $2000. If that were true, would you use fewer words? A lot fewer? I’ve said this before, but I need to try again: words belong in memos. Powerpoint is for ideas. If you have bullets, please, please, please only use one word in each bullet. Two if you have to. Three never.
- Get a remote. I always use one. Mine went missing a couple of weeks ago, so I had to present without it. I saw myself on video and hated the fact that I lost all that eye contact. It’s money well spent.
- Use a microphone. If you are presenting to more than twenty people, a clip on microphone changes your posture and your impact. And if you’re presenting to more than 300 people, use iMag. This is a setup with a camera and projector that puts your face on the screen. You should have a second screen for your slides–the switching back and forth is an incompetent producer’s hack that saves a few bucks but is completely and totally not worth it. If 400 people are willing to spend an hour listening to you, someone ought to be willing to spend a few dollars to make the presentation work properly.
- Check to make sure you brought your big idea with you. It’s not worth doing a presentation for a small idea, or for a budget, or to give a quarterly update. That’s what memos are for. Presentations involve putting on a show, standing up and performing. So, what’s your big idea? Is it big enough? Really?
- Too breathtaking to take notes. If people are liveblogging, twittering or writing down what you’re saying, I wonder if your presentation is everything it could be. After all, you could have saved everyone the trouble and just blogged it/note-taken it for them, right? We’ve been trained since youth to replace paying attention with taking notes. That’s a shame. Your actions should demand attention (hint: bullets demand note-taking. The minute you put bullets on the screen, you are announcing, “write this down, but don’t really pay attention now.”) People don’t take notes when they go to the opera.
- Short! Do you really need an hour for the presentation? Twenty minutes? Most of the time, the right answer is, “ten.” Ten minutes of breathtaking big ideas with big pictures and big type and few words and scary thoughts and startling insights. And then, and then, spend the rest of your time just talking to me. Interacting. Answering questions. Leading a discussion.
Most presentations (and I’ve seen a lot) are absolutely horrible. They’re not horrible because they weren’t designed by a professional, they’re horrible because they are delivered by someone who is hiding what they came to say. The new trend of tweaking your slides with expensive graphic design doesn’t solve this problem, it makes it worse. Give me an earnest amateur any day, please.
Anyway ditch powerpoint and use a flipchart see the new Nobo Kapture flip chart and send your flipchart ideas straight to your PC or laptop.
28 Oct 2010
Seth Godin is one of the world’s great presenters.
He’s also a beanpole American with a nasal, rather annoying voice.
So what makes him so brilliant? This video shows you. And it’s a funny and informative way to spend a few minutes.
How does he do it? Here are some of his methods…
- His approach is to make you laugh and think at the same time
- His slides aren’t the best-looking – but they get the message across perfectly
- He uses a lot of open-palmed gestures. When he uses the word ‘listen’, he points to his ear. ‘Think’ and he points to his head. There’s a lot of movement and activity
- He continually surprises, both with what he says, and with what he does. For example, there’s no music for most of the presentation – then it suddenly starts blaring out. He doesn’t use props – until he suddenly does
- To get his points across, he tells stories about people doing remarkable things
If you have time, watch the full 17 minutes: it’s all about how to get noticed by being remarkable, and we all want to be noticed. But even if you watch only a minute, you’ll pick up powerful presentation tips that you can use again and again.
18 Oct 2010
Apple boss Steve Jobs is widely held to be one the best presenters around. It helps, of course, that he has interesting things to say (after all, an iPhone is a lovely piece of kit – watch him launching the iPhone 4 here). And it also helps that he has the might of Apple behind him when it comes to slick visuals – you don’t get the impression he was up til 4 a.m. wrestling with his PowerPoint slides.
So, how does he do it?
Businessweek magazine got communications coach Carmine Gallo to analyse a Steve Jobs presentation. The result is a ten-point guide called, unsurprisingly, Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs. You can use the framework to wow your own audience.
It isn’t rocket science. Demonstrate enthusiasm. Don’t put too much on your slides. Make numbers meaningful. But what comes across most of all is that Jobs really, really believes in what he’s saying. He isn’t flashy; he’s certainly no Barack Obama or Winston Churchill when it comes to language. But you can tell that he’s sincerely proud of what his team has achieved, and he genuinely wants to tell people about it. He may be a great salesperson, but you can’t fake that sort of enthusiasm.
Hope these tips help you with your next presentation.
28 Sep 2010
Sir John Harvey-Jones was chairman of UK chemicals giant ICI from 1982 to 1987. He was probably best known for his BBC television show Troubleshooter, in which he advised struggling businesses.
Don’t be afraid to state what is obvious to you. It may not be obvious to the audience.
Give them passion.
28 Sep 2010
Famous explorer and former SAS officer Ranulph Fiennes led an expedition that discovered the lost city of Ubar in Oman. He joined with nutrition specialist Mike Stroud to become the first to cross Antarctica unaided. Their journey of 97 days is the longest in South Polar history.
- Don’t treat every audience to the same presentation as though they were all mere listening machines. Wherever possible, make each audience think you care about them and you feel lucky or honoured to get the chance to address them.
- Don’t go on for too long!