“Take elegant, simple presentation design seriously”

Great article from Lisa Nirell from Fast Company titled, “Are Your Presentations Powerful Or Pathetic? 4 Persuasive Presentation Preparation Tips” aiming to cure what she calls PPD: Pathetic Presentation Disorder.  Here are her 4 tips:

  • Follow the 10/20/30 rule: Ten slides maximum, 20 minutes of content, and 30 point font
  • Tell a story
  • Lead the audience to action
  • Practice and enjoy talking to yourself

Making Decisions Easier

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
– Roy E. Disney

Mistakes happen.  We all err in judgment or make wrong decisions at one point or another.  When you find that you’ve made a mistake; own it, be upfront and honest about it, but ultimately, you need to forget it and drive on.  You can’t question decisions made in real time.

The best we can do is to prepare for the crossroads we will inevitably find ourselves facing.  Have a clear set of values and a clear goal.  Stick to those values and the difficult decisions will be made easier.  They may not always be the right ones but standing for what you believe in (honesty, simplicity, creativity, focusing on design, producing high-quality products, offering low-cost alternatives, being user-friendly, or believing in customer-service) is more important than being right all the time.

Conan Knows Creativity

“As you get closer and closer to the show, the pressure increases, and you start running out of time and that’s when more and more of the key decisions are made.” – Conan O’Brien

Whether you are in comedy, starting a business, writing a presentation, or planning for the future, you need ideas. Ideas need creativity. In this great article from Fast Company, Conan O’Brien gives his secrets on how he and his team spark creativity. Here’s what he can teach us about idea generation:

  • Constraints, such as time, actually help the process. You are forced to make key decisions when time is running out. Decisions that would never be made unless you were forced to make them.
  •  Brainstorming is about 90% “bull-shitting” until the team can latch onto an idea and build something that works.
  • Preparation is important. If you are speaking in front of a group, you need to have the material down cold. But you also have to leave room for improvisation.
  • Creativity should be fun, seriously.
  • Know what’s in your control, and what isn’t. Don’t dwell on those things you can’t control and exploit those things that you can.

* Source and picture from the Fast Company article “Conan O’Brien’s Guide to Creativity” by Chuck Salter

Necessary, yet forgettable

“You don’t win friends with salad.” – Homer Simpson

Salads are boring. They aren’t particularly fun. They don’t really stand out. It’s not like you look forward to eating a salad like you do pizza night. They are healthy, yet unremarkable…like most presentations; necessary, yet forgettable. But they don’t have to be. Try something different. You’ll win more clients being simple and creative than boring and unremarkable.

* picture of Homer Simpson courtesy of Fox’s The Simpsons by Matt Groenig

An Advertisement

“I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death.” – Leo Burnett

A presentation or speech is like an advertisement for you or your sales team. It lives on long after you’ve left the room and ideally will spread to others you’ve never spoken to. Be fun, be creative, be interesting, but don’t be boring.

Make Life Easy

Any time you interact directly with a customer or a client, you are marketing yourself. Emails, presentations, cold calls, meetings, lunches, leave-behinds, brochures, elevator pitches, blogs, websites, white papers, networks, or trade shows give you the opportunity to be special. Crafting a simple, thoughtful message or designing a clean, easy-to-digest presentation tells your client that you are professional and care about making life easier for them. And people are more likely to buy from you when you make their lives easier.

Creative Limitation

“The principle of Creative Limitation calls for freedom within a circle of obstacles.” – Robert McKee

Let’s say you want to write a screenplay. You have a great idea for a film, but don’t know where to begin. According to one of the world’s premier screenwriting teachers, Robert McKee, you want to identify the genre, or genres, that you are going to work within (comedy, action-adventure, love story, social drama, etc.), and study the films that have succeeded, or haven’t succeeded, in the past. You might think this will make your idea unoriginal and cliché, but in fact, learning about your genre first will force your idea to be deeper and different.

In his book, “Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting,” McKee writes “Genre convention is a creative limitation that forces the writer’s imagination to rise to the occasion. Rather than deny convention and flatten the story, the fine writer calls on the conventions like old friends, knowing that in the struggle to fulfill them in a unique way, he may find inspiration for the scene that will lift his story above the ordinary.”