2 3 live&learn&rejoice: commit to not boring people in 2011 and beyond

January 10, 2011

commit to not boring people in 2011 and beyond

Isn't it curious that as we start 2011, conferences and board meetings continue to be plagued by presenters who insist on mind numbing traditional PowerPoint slideshows? What's up with that? Do these people still use rotary telephones and typewriters? Do their secretaries continue to depend on carbon copies? Is a mouse for them only something that scares you scurrying across the kitchen floor (okay, maybe that's only my house...)

Edward Tufte long ago demonstrated how to package even dense quantities of complex information in eye-catching designs and since then we've had Slideology, presentationzen, and goodness knows how many other books giving basic guidelines for how to avoid boring the audience and how to use basic tools like PPT to create effective and powerful presentations. Of course in Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore demonstrated how to do a kick-ass presentation. While the scale of that obviously isn't doable as a norm, still the goal is in that direction and not in bulleted lists for infinity (unless your objective is to get the audience daydreaming about their next vacation, really skip any semblance of a bulleted list.)

Apps on the iPad like fluid or carp point the direction for presentations of the future. I don't have a clue how to create those kinds of effects but I know enough that I want to learn how to use the existing technology to the best of my ability to incorporate new things into my presentations. You do cool things not to show off your talents (okay, well maybe a little) but you do these things to complement your argument and to make your presentation more persuasive and more powerful -- because you have a msg that you want to get across not because you have 15 minutes to fill.

So let's all learn how to do better presentations and stop boring the audience in 2011. A simple guideline to start, less is more on the slide. Take a cue from the traditional Japanese scrolls and learn to embrace space: less=more.

The concept might successfully be applied to the length of time presenters talk as well. Just because you are allotted 15 minutes doesn't mean you have to take it all for your presentation...just a thought.

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