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.

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