A friend of mine, Keith, is a very polished presenter. He delivers his argument logically, with precision and a great deal of depth. It's rare to hear an ummm, ahhh or other verbal glitch come out of his mouth. By training, he's a lawyer, although now he's the CEO of a successful company. At business school, in open debate or discussion of a case study he would give such precise detailed answers that he earned the nickname…
Recently, I attended a seminar at the Central Library titled “Writing up your Family History”. It was free, and it caught my interest, so I decided to go along to it. During the seminar I quickly realised that I was picking up so much more than just the subject matter:
This is more of a personal thing that I do rather than something I picked up during the seminar. During sessions like this I always sit at the front of the room. There is a lot of value in this because I then feel that I am really involved. As well as being able to see any slides, etc, clearly, and being able to hear the speaker clearly, I can “interact” with the presenter more. I make eye contact, and acknowledge that I am listening (with small actions such as head nods, etc). As a result I feel that I am more receptive to what is being said.
Keep it Simple
The lady presenting was what I liked to refer to as a “library bod”. That is, someone who was fully immersed in the world of research and study. In fact she worked in the research section of the library. She was completing a PhD, and had written several historical papers, and was very knowledgeable. However her language was simple, and the things she discussed were far from confusing.
Break up the presentation
The presenter broke her presentation into “chapters”. She would introduce the particular area that would be talking about with a PowerPoint slide (containing the title of that “chapter”, and then she just talked about it. No further PowerPoint slides, no further distractions (however, I do comment further on this below).
While the presenter was talking she stayed to one side of the room. She used her arms to help “explain” some parts of the speech, but she did not move around the room. This meant that you could focus more on the message rather than the movement.
Know your stuff
Nothing new here. It was obvious that she knew her subject. I didn’t get a chance to ask whether she had practiced her presentation or not, but she certainly never faltered, or seem “lost”.
I mentioned above that he presenter made minimal use of PowerPoint. She had a slide with the name of the particular area that was talking about, and that was it. This was left displaying until she changed to a new sub-topic. Many of these slides, however, had impressive looking word clouds on them – in multiple colours. I found that I would try and read these, which distracted me from what was being said. I think, in his case, just having the name of the sub-topic displayed would be enough.
During the seminar there were a few things that I found interesting. The presenter was talking, a one stage, about styles, and the correct way to cite sources. She mention that there was a particular section of the library where books that covered these topics could be found. I found this interesting because, if it was me, I would turn first to the internet for advice. It did show the difference in the “worlds’ we lived in. She works in a world of books, so her first instinct is to turn to a book. I live in a world of computers.
Another thing that I noticed was when she was talking about using Word to write material. In this case, she was expounding the virtues of the “Outline” function of MS Word. There was a screen shot showing on her slide, and she mentioned that his was the latest version of Word. It wasn’t. The screenshot was of Word 2007. However, this small error did not make one iota’s difference to the material she was presenting, and, besides, the entire audience (apart from myself) were retired elderly people, for whom it would also not make one iota of difference.
All in all, I was really surprised by the seminar. I learnt a lot. Even some things about geneaology!
Comic Books are fun!
They are a great visual medium. And they are a great way to tell a story.
One of Jorge Cham’s latest editions in his PhD comic series is on an interview that was held with Keegan Lannon at Comic-Con. Keegan is a PhD student and is studying “the narrative of comic books“. (Yep – it seems that Comic-Con has an intellectual side.)
This edition struck me on many levels:
Keegan describes his study. It’s on how comic books tell stories. “What does the mind do as it scans across the page and sees all the words, and put something together. What can we learn about information and communicative process by the way narratives tell stories.”
Keegan has even created a Taxonomy of Word Functions in Comics:
- Neurolingustic Text – Speech/Thought bubbles
- Sound Effects – Motivated/Unmotivated
- Narrative Text – Intra/Extradiegetic
- Printed Text - Consequential/Incidental
Keegan provides an interesting description of the difference between films, books and comics.
One fascinating thing that resonated with me was the observation that Keegan made about the power of a graphic. People can write many, many words to describe something, when a good graphic and a caption can be just as powerful.
The way that Jorge put this edition together is amazing. Instead of just having a film of the interview, he made amazing use of various ways to present the information.
Jorge uses different ways of capturing various topics into panels. He also emphasises main points by adding speech bubbles, as well as extra drawings.
What could of been a mildly interesting way of capturing information from a PhD student is turned into something very, very captivating!
It’s a well spent 4 minutes and 43 seconds!
How would you like to come across during a presentation? Check all that apply — Lazy? Safe? Unimaginative? A rule-follower? If you use a bullet slide, you are checking all those boxes. That's what bullets on a slide sub-consciously say about you. "But," I hear you say, "That's what the template made me do…" or "I had to get these points across, bullets are the best way."
In a previous post, I discussed how you don’t always get a correct answer to a question you ask to a crowd.
One of the Spark talks given at Lotusphere 2012 was by Mitch Cohen. It was titled “Get Cancer – Get Social”. His wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Mitch’s talk was a good, & inspiring, one. He talked about the part the internet, and social media played, and broke it down into three areas:
- Misinformation, and
“Believe it or not, someone (can) be wrong on the internet”
The first thing that Mitch did when his wife was diagnosed was to tell her not to look for answers on the internet. In his talk, he tells us that no two diagnosis’ are the same, and that everyone reacts differently. There are a lot of people out there trying to be helpful, and give advice, but it was, really, misinformation. The best thing to do, said Mitch, is ask the questions to the experts – the doctors and oncologists.
“There’s a lot of support you can get”
Mitch talked about Facebook. “You can be sitting at an infusion centre, letting this poison run into you boy, and you could be thinking about that, or you could be looking at the 100 of comments coming in wishing you support.”
Mitch’s wife started blogging about what she was going through. She wrote about how she was feeling, how she was handling it, and what she thought about what was going on. Not only did it made it easier for her to tell her friends all about it, it made it really made it easier for Mitch to share it with his friends.
Mitch pointed out that going through chemo means you end up being more susceptible to infection Which means that you can’t be around other people. Being able to see what the vacation photos of others on Facebook, and reading their stories really made a difference to his wife.
Thousands of Miles Away
“I wish we were closer, I wish there was something we could do”
Mitch told of the great support they got from their local friends was, but what he found incredibly powerful was the support he got from people thousands of miles away. How people he had never met in person came up to him (at the conference) and were genuinely concerned and interested with what had been going on.
The Spark Talks were, and are, organised by The Nerd Girls. You can see, below, a list of other excellent Spark talks that were given at Lotusphere2012.
- Spark Ideas Lotusphere 2012 – The Videos (nerdgirlsrule.wordpress.com)
- Wisdom of the Crowds – part 1 : When the wisdom of the many helps the few or the one (markjowen.wordpress.com)
- Relationships in social media (markjowen.wordpress.com)
- From The Wisdom Of Crowds, To The Wisdom Of Friends (neilperkin.typepad.com)
Well, Troy has the same opinion:
…after surfing the web for a few minutes looking at some of these, you quickly come to the conclusion that most of them suck.
He follows this with the best comment on Infographics that I’ve ever seen…
most people wrongly think that information + graphics = infographics
And then he takes the whole “infographics” discussion to another level…he discusses an interview that Gestalt had with Francesco Franchi, the Art Director of one of Italy’s top financial newspapers.
It’s a great post. Click here to read what Troy wrote (as well as watch the video of Francesco Franchi).
Also just noticed that my friend Ant Clay, from 21apps has also published an amazing post on Infographics. Definitely take a look at it!
This video reveals the truth about every PowerPoint presentation that has ever been made…
I’m honored to have been asked to be an Expert Blogger for AIIM!
That’s right – I’ve been designated an AIIM ECM Expert. I’ve even got a new purple badge that has been added to my AIIM profile. (It’s sitting on top of the AIIM Ambassador badge!)
I’m very thankful to the editor at AIIM (Bryant Duhon) for giving me this opportunity, and it’s also fantastic to be include with such intellectual giants as Chris Walker, Joe Shepley, Laurence Hart, Cheryl McKinnon, Jesse Wilkins, Jeremy Thake, Christian Buckley, Nick Inglis and many, many more. (For a full list click here).
I’ve been given the OK to publish any post I write for AIIM, also on my own blog (i.e. this one), but with a lapse of a couple of weeks.
At the same time, I’m still very interested in other areas that don’t quite fit the scope of my AIIM designation. If I feel the urge to put fingers to keyboard and write about these, they will also be appearing here.
I’m really stoked about this, and look forward to writing some smart stuff.
If you have read my earlier post on Infographics, you’ll recall that I bemoaned the fact that some of the so called infographics coming out these days are just not making the grade.
This evening, my good reader, I came across a blog post that showed seventeen examples of “excellent” infographics. Initially I was excited by what I saw, but then, on closer examination, I actually discovered that while some of the infographics were, indeed, visually exciting and really “painted a picture”, some of them were just statistics with a coloured graph.
Infographic #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 were prime examples of what I have been saying. They give you information in a great way and add value, rather than making you think “D’uh – you could have just given me the raw statistics, or information.”
Infographic #6 and #7: “D’uh – you could have just given me the raw statistics.”
Infographic #8, #9 and #10: Are great representations of the data.They made me really study them to try and get more information out of them.
Infographic #11 and #12 were poor. These were just numbers. That’s all. I wasn’t stimulated to think about what I was looking at. (In short – they were boring).
Infographic #13, #14, #15 and #16. I like these ones. The information present, again, caused me to stop, while my neurons, and synapses, sprang into life.
Infographic #17. At the risk of repeating myself “D’uh – you could have just given me the raw statistics.”
Have a look at the post (click here), and let me know, in the comments, if you agree with what I have said.
Here’s an excellent presentation by Jesse Desjardins. He makes some really great suggestions. So much so that I wanted to capture it on my blog. I just hope that more people actually “get” what makes a good PowerPoint presentation.
At the same time I realise that many people need to comply to some “corporate” standard. And, sometimes a PowerPoint presentation is created to be read, or viewed, at a later stage when the presenter is present. I’m not quite sure how to fit those types into the concepts that Jesse (and many others) are promoting.
Watch Jesse’s presentation, and have a think about how a “corporate” (or a “stand-alone”) presentation can be created using these ideas…
A couple of my other posts that discuss presentations:
- 3 Easy Steps to a Great 20 Minute Presentation (forbes.com)
An infographic turns numbers into something visually exciting and meaningful.
Recently I came across an article on the VentureBeat website, by Chikodi Chima, which states that infographics have “jumped the shark“.
In it, Chikodi refers to Edward Tuft, (author of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.), who said that successful graphics should do the following:
- Show the data.
- Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production, or something else.
- Present many numbers in a small space.
- Make large data sets coherent.
- Encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data.
- Reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure.
- Serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration.
- Be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set.
It seems that many infographics don’t accomplish these, and are being made just for the sake of making them.
Here’s that link to that article…How infographics jumped the shark.
Give it a read, and let me know if you agree.
- Infographics – some examples of REALLY good ones (maybe) (markjowen.wordpress.com)
- The Rise of the Infographic (makeapowerfulpoint.com)
- Storied infographics: Why do they fail? (commetrics.com)
When I was at the European SharePoint Best Practices conference in London this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ruven Gotz.
Ruven is a is a Senior Consultant & SharePoint MVP with Navantis, and gave an excellent presentation on “How to organise effective requirements gathering workshops”.
The subject was interesting, but what I was really impressed with, was the style of Ruven’s PowerPoint slides. They made me listen to what Ruven had to say (rather than switch off and just read what was on the screen).
Ruven’s style impressed me so much that I tried to emulate it recently. It wasn’t such a success.
Thankfully Ruven has just written a post on creating excellent powerpoint presentations.I strongly reccommend that you go to his site and have a read.
Ruven’s post: Can you read that at the back of the room?
- Tips for creating Great PowerPoint slides (markjowen.wordpress.com)
- Create Better Diagrams for your PowerPoint Slides (labnol.org)
- Present Away: Techniques to Shine (Part 2) (abitofeverythingnow.wordpress.com)
- Stop Making Presentations! How PowerPoint Ruined the US Economy (marketingprofs.com)
- Knovio Reinvents the Power Point Presentation (arnoldit.com)
I’m going to the FirstDoc User Group (FDUG) conference in Vienna, Europe, this year. (For those that are not familiar with FirstDoc, see the links at the bottom of this post).
Every year CSC hold the FirstDoc User Group conference – first in the US, and then in Europe.
I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been ask to present there so it’s time to put the old thinking cap on, and come up with an interesting way of presenting information. (I don’t want to bore people).
The agenda for the Europe conference hasn’t been posted yet, but the one for the US conference has.
The keynote speech will cover CSC’s Long Term Product Strategy. This will be interesting, as the ECM world is very much a lively, ever-changing thing at the moment, as each large EMC vendor morphs, and adapts to meet the ever-changing environment bought about by such things as SharePoint 2010, and cloud computing.
Next on the schedule is a case study – “Global Deployment”. This will also be interesting as international companies are, and have been for awhile, looking at the challenges of multiple sites, located in disparate locations around the world. The challenges don’t just include the hardware side of distributed systems, but also taxonomies and metadata (ensuring that everyone uses the same vocabulary), etc.
In the afternoon, there will be a panel discussion by representatives of some of the large Pharmaceutical companies on Collaboration, and SPX. SPX is CSC’s technology that allows users to interact with their FirstDoc system from SharePoint. It consists of two parts – SPX web parts, and Wingspan’s DocWay server component that resides on a web service server (see my earlier post for details on this).
I’ve been involved with this technology for the last 4 years, and I am curious what will be covered here.
Later in the day there is also a discussion on FirstDoc Performance metrics.
Now, this is something that I would be very interested in. How do you actually measure the performance of a system, especially when there are so many parts involved? For example, if a user is in SharePoint, and they use SPX to access documents that reside in a Documentum docbase, there is so much going on. If performance is poor, how do you actually pinpoint where the bottleneck is? I know that there are ways to get information back on the activities that occur, but this involves making some changes in the configuration, and is not really a simple thing to do. If I was there, this is one session where I would be scribbling notes. (I know – in these days, I should actually be typing notes into my iPad2).
At the end of the first day there will be a User Only session. In the first FDUG conference 2007, this session caused a little bit of concern. The idea was that the users would have a chance to talk frankly with the users about FirstDoc (at that stage FirstDoc was the name of the company also – it was bought by CSC in 2008.) However, the fact that there was someone from FirstDoc present in the room did not engender a feeling of openness. At later conferences this was less of a problem.
On the second day, there are more strategy, and users sessions culminating in product demonstrations.
Naturally there is also a social event planned, and this really gives the attendees the chance to mix, and get to know the others that are using the CSC products. There is an opportunity to share, and learn, from others who may be dealing with, or have dealt with, similar challenges.
- FirstDoc User Groups
- CSC’s acquisition of FirstDoc
- FirstDoc (the compliance solution)
- Wingspan Technologies
- 21CRF Part11
Next Post: FDUG – Europe – Review of the Agenda
I’m trying not to get into the habit of just using someone else material as a post (even when giving them all the credit).
I know I’ve done this a few times recently. It’s because I have come across something that I really want to share.
This is one of those times.
Below is a link to an article entitled “Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them“. Even though the format is in a series of slides that you have to click through, which I (and, looking at the comments, others) found annoying, there are still many good points made.
According to the text on the last slide “The more people who read this post, the fewer sucky presentations we’ll ALL have to sit through.”
So, have a look…
Thanks to @The14Folder, who tweeted about this originally.
Related Post: Tips for creating Great PowerPoint slides
Once upon a time, in a far away land, I was present at a demo that a vendor was giving to the end users of a Document Management System. These are users that had worked with the native client (the end-user application) of the DMS for many years. They knew how to make it sing and dance.
The vendor had worked with this customer for many years, and there was a good relationship. The vendor knew how the customer’s business worked. They knew because they were also the vendor of the Document Management System, and had originally worked with the customer to set up the system to match the customer’s requirements.
So, there we were. In a conference room. A representative of the vendor stood up front . As well as that there were 4 other people from the vendor in the audience – a technical gut, a subject matter expert, some from the vendor’s product development, and a client manager.
We waited in anticipation. The vendor was going to show us new technology that would allow the user to access the Document Management System via SharePoint using a web part. Not only could we access the documents, we would be able to interact with the document, and attach it workflows, etc. And all this via SharePoint. This had great potential. It meant that we could create “work areas” customised to the users’ requirements. And the specialised web parts could be configured to returns documents that meet specific criteria.
One thing I need to point out is that the users were not familiar with SharePoint, and certainly not with the concept of web parts. This was new technology for them.
The vendor’s representative coughed. Everyone went quite. Then the representative (who required no introduction as everyone had worked with him at one stage, or another) explained that the technical guy had created a working system that he would use to introduce the new technology. He hit a button on his laptop, and the overhead screen in the room flashed to life.
And what did we see. The vendor had created a SharePoint site, and on it were more than 10 web parts. In two columns. Each showing objects from the Document Management System in various forms (one web part showed an inbox showing workflow tasks, another was a single-box search web part, one had an extended search facility showing, one was for browsing a tree structure of folders, others had specific queries behind them.
The vendor carried on talking about what a web part is, and what each web part did, and, the eyes of the users started glazing over. It was too much for them. This was new technology, and a new way of working. What the vendor showed was too much at the same time. The users were confused. And you could tell by the body language that the users were against what the vendor was telling them.
During the presentation, the vendor would be describing a specific web part and the functionality that it provided.
Several of the more entrenched users (those who had been doing their job since day one, and were damned good at it) would make comments like “This is not how we do it.”, or “We do things differently here.”
I cringed as the presentation died a quick death. The vendor had not planned properly for this audience. Even the managers in the audience were confused by what was being shown. After the everyone had left I approached the vendor, and got into a discussion with him about what had happened. After much analysis, the following was agreed:
- The vendor hadn’t realized that the technology was so confusing. He works with it every day, and, for him, it was second nature. He had not looked at it from the perspective of his audience.
- Too much was presented at the same time. The vendor should have chosen three web parts that provide the base functionality that matched what the users do on a daily basis. Then, once that had been explained, the other web parts could have been introduced.
- There was no “education” done first. The vendor could have started with a explanation of what the new technology was and how SharePoint and web parts worked.
These are all basic things. New ways of doing things, new technologies need to be introduced gently. The users need to be held by the hand as they are shown. And then step by step. The more the users feel comfortable with something he easier it is to take them to the next step, and the more open they are to making suggestions of their own. This allows them to think innovatively.
But what had the vendor done? Strapped everyone in to their stools and bombarded their senses with new, and different concepts. And at all at the same time.
What was disappointing was that the vendor was no stranger to the customer. As I mentioned above the customer company and the vendor company had worked together for years. The vendor knew what the users did.They knew what the users knew.
The vendor left promising to do a better job next time. That they would definitely take the softly, softly approach. And because they did have a relationship with the customer, that was OK. However, know they had the extra burden of having to re-convince an already resistant audience.