Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How much is too much?

I'm working at the Gaylord Palms hotel in sunny Florida, just a stones throw from what's supposedly the happiest place on Earth. Yeah, I'm not totally down with that.

Anyway, we're producing a number of elements at this large conference, about 4000 attendees, and one of the featured speaker sessions really caught my eye. The first thing was the presenters title. Below is his actual title, taken directly from the program, named changed to protect his identity and my butt:

President and CEO
XYZ Corporation

Let me say this again...that's the actual listed title for this guy!!! How many designations does one man really need? So, from the very beginning, I'm think John Doe doesn't understand the idea of restraint. Little did I know.

I go to his session, probably 350 people in the room, and I sit in the absolute front row as it's empty even though 10-15 people are standing against the back wall, yep... it's not my first rodeo. Anyway, the good doctor puts up his first slide and I immediately laugh out loud! He gives me a look, I smile back at him, point at his slide, shake my head side to side and give him the 'whatever dude' gesture.

Here's what I counted on his very first slide:
  • 181 individual words
  • 5 bullet point indicators that were actually smiley faces
  • 2 3D arrows in royal blue
  • 2 pieces of ridiculous, generic 'office' clip art
  • 2 3D boxes in fire engine red
  • 1 horizontal line in lime green
  • 1 logo


The lesson here is hopefully obvious... for the sake of all some restraint people. As they say, less is more.

Immediately after counting up all the crap-tacular stuff on his slide, I got up and left. Even with all those fancy designations he forgot that his presentation really isn't about him; it's actually about the audience.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Love Hate

We love presentations. We hate presentations. We love smart clients. We hate adversarial clients. We love the creative process. We hate PowerPoint templates. We love finding new ways of looking at old things. We hate seeing old ideas that can't be let go in favor of something better. We love making creativity an integral component of great communication tools. We hate to see presentations ignored as superfluous tasks. We love companies with a clear vision. We hate companies brainwashed with the clich├ęs of bad business habits. We love it when the written and spoke word extends a visual idea. We hate it when bad design obscures the clarity of a written or spoken word. We love blending development, design and delivery into one cohesive concept. We hate incomplete effort and ignoring any of the three Ds. We love new technology that can help anyone express an idea. We hate technology that makes people think they can do things they are not capable of doing. We love speakers who can engage an audience and inspire thought. We hate listening to someone reading off of their own slides. We love presentations. We hate presentations.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Video Tips & Tricks #1: Excuses

The first video of many to come, deals with making excuses in your presentations, and what you need to avoid.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm really glad to be with you tonight.

Last night I was in Kansas City working with a very large, very respected, very well known firm of accountants. One of the presenters in rehearsal confidently strode to the lectern, looked right into the belly of the beast (that would be the room full of 400 empty chairs) and dryly cracked, "I'm really excited to be with you tonight".

According to Dr. David Song, a plastic surgeon and Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Hospitals, who was interviewed for a Straight Dope article, it takes 12 muscles to smile. Clearly our presenter last night lacks all 12 of those facial muscles as her look didn't match her words.

It's real simple people...mean what you say. If you're actually pleased to be presenting, SHOW IT. If you're not really all that jazzed to be there, DON'T LIE, simply avoid opening with a line that places you in an awkward spot. Why? Because we can tell your full of shit and authenticity truly matters.

Oh, and by the way, Guy Kawasaki in his bestselling book "Enchantment" encourages all of us to throw a few four-letter words in every now and then. Guy says it keeps the audience on their toes as long as it's not mean spirited or used too frequently.

I guess by now you've figured out that he and I agree. THANKS