Friday, December 17, 2010

Back to School

Since the new website was rolled out last week, we have had a few questions about the SP presentation workshops or schools, or whatever you would like to call them. Admittedly, this section of the website is lacking and is currently undergoing a rebuild and restructuring. The workshops are going to be really beneficial to our clients, but to many others as well. It will be clearer soon, I promise.

For now, though, I'll attempt to provide a bit more clarity here, for those who have asked.

No, these aren't classes to teach you how to use Powerpoint or Keynote. We're going to assume you have at least a basic, working knowledge of those tools. Sure, there will be some tips and tricks along the way, but these are NOT tutorials on how to import images or how to change the color of text.

No, we're not going to bring you into a big auditorium and lecture you on public speaking. Actually, we are creating a very warm and comfortable environment, that will make our classroom sessions not only very personal and casual, but limiting each class day to a small number of people at one time, it will be a very hands-on and direct approach to interactive learning.

So here is the nitty gritty of these workshops—we're basing the whole concept on the human brain.

It's accepted that each hemisphere of your brain serves different types of thought. The left side of the brain serves thought in a linear fashion—logic, rational, structured and tactical. It takes in verbal commands and organized structure. The right side of the brain serves creative and holistic thought, and tends to absorb input via imagery and ideas. Both process information differently, and most people are dominant to one side or another.

In any audience, you will have BOTH types of people, so you need to not only consider that in your presentation to them, but as you build your own ideas, as well.

So each day will focus on the left- and right-brained parts of developing brilliant presentations. Day 1 is the right-brained part that speaks in ideas, concepts, pictures and imagery, and Day 2 will focus mostly on the verbal, linear and logical development of the presentation, through speaking and orator development. They both MUST overlap, though, so we will cover both sections on both days to some degree.

These are 2-day workshops—you can do one, or the other, or both—it's up to you. Each day will have a different emphasis. The first day will be the "Creative" day. Roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Well, not really. But you will learn to re-think the ways you have been developing and designing presentations.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, we're going to teach you a different way to think about developing a presentation visually and verbally. No more template-driven, bullet-riddled litanies of copy to have your audience read from while you recite exactly what's up on the screen. We're going to start from the beginning, and that doesn't mean the slide template. We'll also discuss subjects such as identifying your audience, identifying your message, creating a plan and concept around that message, building the presentation structure, working with (and around) brand guidelines, typography, image sourcing (and legalities), and some basic design theories to help you lay out at least interesting presentation slides. The "creative" side of this is not only about the slide backgrounds your audience sees—it is SO much more than that.

In our Creative session on Day 1, we will also touch on the SquarePlanet presentation philosophies and how they differ from the status quo currently plaguing the corporate and university world today. With that, we will also spend a bit of time on the aspects of the actual verbal presentation, and how you can help your audience interact and retain your messaging better. It doesn't hurt to have a bit of speaking help, too, so we'll touch a bit on that during Day 1.

Day 2 will have a small bit of overlap for those who can't make it to the Creative workshop, touching on our philosophical concepts and ideas on how to develop memorable presentations. This will include a brief overview of the creative side of the process, for anyone only focusing on the verbal side of presentations.

The "Presenter" workshop will dive into tips on getting comfortable in front of a crowd of any size, the power of the pause, the SquarePlanet 4 keys to a successful presentation (authenticity, personal, simplicity, restraint) and many other topics that face anyone standing up in front of an audience. We will develop your skills as a presenter, and teach you what you need to know to develop a presentation that is clear, concise, captivating and memorable.

These schools will be held in the middle of the week, in the middle of each month, and they will fill up quickly. If you would like to get a seat for any of these workshops in the next few months, don't hesitate to contact us through the website. We're really excited about what we can offer you and your company.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Dumb Dome

My beloved Bears failed to show up at snowy Soldier Field yesterday. While one loss is no big deal, is does dampen some of my enthusiasm for the upcoming Monday Night match-up against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome.


I'm not making this up. Due to massive snow storms, the teflon roof of the 30 year old Metrodome failed, forcing the NFL to re-schedule this weeks game to Detroit. This is a big deal! 70,000 people are suddenly holding tickets to a game that now must happen 5 hours away. Both teams are affected, massive dollars are lost to the local economy, the TV crews are scrambling, etc, etc.

So, if you were to guess the spot with the latest, most up-to-date, most complete coverage of the roof collapse, what would you come up with? Well, if you're like me, you would think the official site of the Metrodome would be the spot.

Guess again!!! It's almost laughable how woeful the site is and continues to be in reporting the problem. The officials of the dome are making a presentation, albeit an awful one, but a presentation nonetheless.

They have failed to offer clear, reliable information. They have failed to offer any personal account or information beyond phrases in the form of a PDF news release. They used too much restraint, holding any and all information close to the vest, so much so that they are no longer a credible source.

So, the morale of the story is, don't make inflatable domes in bad-weather cities and remember that what you say, and sometimes what you don't say matters. WE deserve better! And as I have four tickets for next Monday's scheduled game inside this now open-air venue, I demand better. need help. LOTS of help. Go Bears.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ohio...I love Ohio!

Hi all.

So, just to be clear, while I like Ohio and some of my most favorite people are from Ohio (Walsh, Close, Janning) I have no reason to actually be pointing to Ohio.


Ohio is the home of Dean Martin, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Goodyear Blimp. What's not to love? I'm glad that so many of you noticed, that said, come visit SquarePlanet right here in good ol' Chicagoland.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

full circle. but square.

It's amazing to think that this whole thing has really materialized in the span of about 2 months, but it has. A phone call on a Tuesday night in October has given birth to a fresh new idea and a fresh new company based on the experience and talent of 2 life-long friends. In retrospect, I guess the whole of our careers has really just prepared us both for this new project.

Brian and I have known each other since kindergarten, which was about 35 years ago or so. Too long to remember, but this whirlwind has stirred up a lot of childhood memories, which is why you will see a lot of references to our past, including the use of our elementary school throughout our website. You'll probably get sick of the 70s and 80s pop culture references, too, but that's who we are so we don't plan to hide any of that.

So stay tuned, there is a lot of really interesting things planned for this space and this new company. We have more ideas than we can even convey to each other, so there won't be a shortage of things to discuss here. We also both talk a lot, so there never will be a lot of dead air. We have a lot to say.

One of the great things that w are doing right off the bat with this company is the development of the SP Presentation Workshop/School program. We're still at odds on what we're calling it, so you will see it referred to as a school or classroom or workshop, but regardless, they will be 2 separate but content-overlapping days of presentation theory and practical application development in an intimate environment within the SquarePlanet workspace once a month. Two days—one for creative endeavors like design, layout, typography, brand management, concept development and writing—and one day for presenter education, like getting comfortable in front of a group, the structure of a good presentation, techniques for powerful speaking, interacting with an audience, thinking on your feet and other techniques. Both days will include a bit of overlap from each session so you can focus on one part of your presentations, or you can attend both classes and get the big picture thinking that will make your presentations worth sitting through.

These are beginning in the middle of January, and will be in the middle of the second week. Seats are already almost filled for January, so if you are interested, drop us a line. We're still working through the details of the pricing, but figure in the range of $750 per day per person.

I think we also might be offering a FREE seat in the January 2-day school in a Facebook contest soon, so if you are interested, definitely pay attention to our other social media outlets.