Friday, April 25, 2008

Presentation Zen

Isn't it pain to sit through everyday presentations where the bullet points are read from slide after slide? Why is the presenter required, when you can read it yourself? Moreover, reading and listening at the same time distracts you, that’s if you are awake!
But that’s the easiest way, in the form of ppt you have the handout, document for later reference and also no preparation required since you always have the ppt to fall back on and read through.
Sounds ridiculous? But that's how 99 out 100 presentations are done and unfortunately that's how we present too.
Because that's normal practice!
While it's easy to fall into this trap, here comes a masterpiece.
It says use slides as visual aid. Don’t be used by the tool, use it.
While those innumerable features, like arrows, bullets, cheesy clip arts and sound etc can be blamed for forcing these bad habits to an extent, you still can improve and be different says Garr Reynolds the author of Presentation Zen.

Zen is about simplicity of life, presentation is an art.

This beautiful book has the following sections.

Introduction: Presenting is transfer of emotions, in today’s ‘Conceptual Age’ where right brain thinking is as/more important than left brain thinking.

Preparation: Start with a childlike wonder/enthusiasm. Do not force thoughts, take time away, solitude energizes your creativity. Then plan analog, use pen & paper/whiteboard and let the ideas flow.
What’s your point, why does it matter?
Think from audience’s point of view, keep asking ‘so what’ while you prepare.

Design: Simplicity is the key, learn from the comics. Lengthy is better, is so old school, use pictures, tell a story, cut the fluff and leave audience wanting more.

Delivery: ’The highest level of martial and spiritual skill is only attainable through No Mind’. Be totally present in the moment, connect with the audience, be passionate and more importantly lighten up.

Next step: The journey begins.

When presenting about pollution in your city, what is better
a) Four bullet points about pollution data
b) Photo of bunch of dead birds, and talk give this information enclosed in four bullets.

If the answer’s b), then this book’s for you.
I guess the book's not in India yet, being a fan of his blog I managed to get a copy. The least you can do is to go here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Snapshot from ‘Life at a Traffic Signal’ :-)

That evening I was driving back from office and waiting at the signal.

There were office buses carrying the stressed out people back home. There were overloaded trucks and city busses.

Left to me was a young chap in a swanky BMW with a sexy babe.
Lucky bastard!
Right to me was an old man on a bullock cart carrying Iron rods, with a little boy sitting on it.

Also there was Ratan Tata's inspiration for Nano, a family on two wheelers, husband, wife, luggage & 2 children.

Then I noticed the Auto, first, the smoke coming out like a chimney, and then, the young couple in it getting cozy unaware of the surroundings, in their own world. Hello!

The line of vehicles behind was growing as far as I could see.

There were beggars, transgenders and people selling some stuff, knocking hard on the car window.

There was a sense the frustration in the air.
Out of the crowd around, ironically, the old man, with sweat & dust, looked more at peace, with a look of detachment on his face.
Everybody seemed to be in a hurry, trying to squeeze ahead in whatever the little space available.

Two wheelers were moving ahead in footpath harassing the pedestrians and the few stuck up were taking rest removing their helmet (the ones who were wearing).

The uncle on scooter was busy talking or rather screaming trying to beat the noise!

I tried to move ahead a bit to get a better view of a pretty girl in the two wheeler ahead. :-)

But no, there was no sign of moving ahead, looks like there's some minor accident & showdown on the road.
Btw you can hardly spot spotless vehicles in Bangalore.

There were hoardings of products and banners of politicians.
People were crossing the road, getting into/down from vehicles.
Aunty was fighting the auto driver on fair/change.
RJ on the FM was giving traffic update in between blabbering about her show.
I could as well turn off and listen to the music from punk fellow's loud music from the car ahead!
And then there's this new car, complete, with plastic covers on the seat, L board and at least a week old garlands!

Finally the vehicles seemed to start moving & there was collective sigh of relief.
The cab behind me started honking even though I was nearly 20th in the line!
By now uncle had done with the phone call & struggling to kick start the scooter.
Right in this chaos someone had coolly parked the vehicle and nowhere to be seen, invoking different kinds of honking.
As I started to move, the chap on the left most with his right indicator on and loud musical horn, frantic waving of hands, wanted to take a right turn & proceeded halting everybody.
Thanks to the experience of driving in Bangalore traffic for years, from being frustrated I have developed a Zen like calm :-)
As I almost made to the signal, the vehicle in front of stopped suddenly.
I just stopped too, ensuring I didn't hit him and no one banged me from back!
With a sense of irritation as I was figuring out the cause of this sudden stop, I couldn’t help a smile
It was a bunch of cows crossing the road, obviously not reading the signal lights and not caring about the poor traffic police's attempts to stop them. Holy :-)
Pizza man in front of me somehow made space between the cows & rocketed ahead!

Then I moved....well, to the next signal...