Monday, May 26, 2008

Presentation Zen and Garr Reynolds

I like non-fiction and documentaries. So, I also like learning stuff, kind of like TVO or PBS styles of shows. Have you heard of Google Talks? If you don't know about these Google Talks on YouTube, highly suggest going there and finding out. Very handy resource and a good way to feed your brain with some knowledge. I have basic cable (around 30 channels) at home and often there's nothing on. So, I sometimes feed on this stuff.

So, I was at home watching this presentation by Garr Reynolds about "Presentation Zen". Garr's whole thing is about presentations and how they can just be better. His style has a Steve Job's vibe, but with more pictures. His ideas are distilled down to simplicity for your presentations. I have often been caught in the trap of putting too much information on the power point.

Do you do presentations? I'm sure you do. I do. Either phone calls, webinars (I hate that name, but it makes sense), real presentations in front of people, etc. I tend do at least one of these types of presentations a week. Over the years, I try to do the Toast Master's stuff (speak slow, don't use "umm's", etc), but there's so much more to presenting than just the speaking style.

So, he's basically saying that there are many ways to present data. Lots of ways to represent data and power point is not the answer, its just a tool. Some of the thoughts are from other people and he distills down to a few points. Here are some of the basic tips I got from the presentation and they might help you out (I'm trying them out now):
  • go to a white board or get a pen an paper and write out/draw out your presentations. Getting away from your computer will help you clear your mind and get away from the bullet point mentality. It also will get your creativity working because you're not locked down by the computer.
  • don't use bullet points, but simple one line ideas. Feel free to use props or other visuals. If you need bullets to give people information, make a handout or give them a PDF so they can have it available. They are there to see the content, not read it.
  • don't forget to play and have fun. That includes putting humor or your personality into the presentation.
Great video, got me started on other books to read too. Now it's time for me to go pickup the book! If you just want to see the video, the YouTube, link is above. If anything, take a look at his blog since there's a lot of information up there and its free.