Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Presentations matter, and this week we have been provided with a good example that proves the point well.
This week Google have entered the mobile phone market. Their phone, the Nexus, is the company’s bid to join the likes of Apple at the top of the smart phone market. The launch took place at Google’s Mountainview campus in California and… well… it sucked.
Above you can see a picture from the “big” event. I am not really quite sure what Google were thinking of when they decided to launch of the Nexus in this manner. To begin with it appears as though they had no more than a few dozen reporters and bloggers in the room, they also appear to have used a screen completely incapable of projecting pictures with any sort of clarity or contrast and finally, the presenter appears to have resigned himself to standing behind an old overhead projector/lectern which isn’t even in use. The whole affair seems awfully amateurish.
Compare this to the launch of a similar phone 2 years ago. Mr. Jobs always puts on a show and didn’t disappoint with his launch of the iPhone. Jobs’ presenting style is the stuff of legend and has even been the subject of one or two books. He practises tirelessly and makes sure that everything is just perfect… he most certainly doesn’t stand behind a podium. He also ensures that his slides are perfect… I can’t imagine that Steve Jobs would have settled for a small room with a screen washed out with too much light.
Some people might say “hey it’s just a presentation, what’s the big deal”, well the problem is that these product launch presentations are a vital piece of the marketing process and like it or not journalists who are uninspired or confused by your product launch pitch will write uninspired and confused articles about your product. Or perhaps write nothing at all.
When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone tech bloggers and journalists whipped the web up into an utter frenzy with articles about the new phone, when Google launched the Nexus with their lukewarm presentation the journalists appear to have relied with a collective shrug of the shoulders.
CNBC’s “Fast Money” news segment even took time to actively slate the presentation (one of the analysts even called the presenter a “Johnson”, an American reference lost on me perhaps), the presentation has now not only created little interest it has attracted negative coverage… this really isn’t the way things should have gone.
This week Google taught us a lesson, presentations matter.
Originally posted on my company blog @ www.clearlypresentable.wordpress.com
Posted by Ed at Friday, January 08, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
My interest in this topic stemmed from a tweet posted by Garr Reynolds @presentationzen: “Holy what’s the plan in Afghanistan, Batman!” Does this PowerPoint clear things up? http://snipurl.com/tyvxc h/t @Durf”
We have all seen our fair share of bad presentations, if you have not yet been subjected to many bad presentations then you are privileged individual indeed, just don’t expect it to last.
In reality, although bad presentations might put us to sleep, waste our time and be totally ineffective all they really do at worst is waste our resources – be they time or money – but hey at least it’s not a case of life or death, people still leave the boardroom alive, bored… but alive.
If a presentation were to be dealing with a topic sufficiently important that it could potentially result in the life or death of numerous individuals you would surely expect that the presenter would want to ensure that the slides used got the information across in the most effective, understandable and memorable way possible… right?
Well, it would seem that not everybody thinks like that. In the past few years a number of internal presentations from the United States Army have been leaked into the public domain and my god are they bad. These slideshows do not just exhibit the normal levels of incompetence that we have come to know and… love, but instead take powerpoint (and audience) abuse to whole new levels.
Take for example the slide below, there is a message there somewhere in the slide, really there is… but the chance of every member of the audience achieving an understanding of this message by the time the presenter has moved on to the next slide is surely as close to zero as you can get.
Exhibit 2 (below) is – although you might have thought it impossible – even more ridiculous than the first. I understand where the presenter is coming from though, I believe I used to draw diagrams like that when I was younger. I would sit at the kitchen table with a box of crayons and a juice box and just keep drawing swirls around the page at random, however at that time I was 2 years old… and I wasn’t trying to run an army engaged in a war.
Now while I make fun of these very poor powerpoint slides, there is a serious point to be made, if your audience can’t understand the message you are trying to tell them, you need to change the way you are telling them. These US Army slides are so ineffective that I find it hard to believe that they are any use to anyone whatsoever, and although the issues they are dealing with are undoubtedly complicated they still need to be communicated well. Perhaps they should all sit down together, watch this talk by Hans Rosling and read some books by Edward Tufte to get a crash course on how to communicate complex information.
Originally posted at my company blog @ www.clearlypresentable.wordpress.com
Posted by Ed at Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Monday, December 14, 2009
From a young age we are led to believe that more is more, that is to say that your essays should be as long as possible, your projects should be far in excess of the minimum length requirement and your show and tell should be as lengthy and detailed a talk as possible.
It is rather unfortunate that we are allowed to believe this from such a young age as it results in what only can be described as truly awful speeches and presentations!
When it comes to giving a presentation LESS is often more, the reality is that people have limited attention spans and their brains can only absorb so much information in one sitting, therefore they will remember the first and last few minutes of your hour long presentation... and no more than that.
Great public speakers across the board from politicians to comedians recognise this fact and put it into practice when they talk to their respective audiences. They recognise that a presentation is about the audience, not about them. They recognise that it is their job to get the message across in a way that will be memorable and that will result in an action, not to stand atop a podium and show off how eloquently and comprehensively they can discuss an issue.
Abraham Lincoln is best remembered for his “Gettysburg Address”, a speech which is widely regarded as being one of the best speeches made by a US president. And while many people have heard of this speech, they have most likely not heard that Lincoln was not the main speaker at event, and more importantly that his speech was under 275 words and lasted less than three minutes.
Edward Everett was up before Lincoln on that day, and delivered a speech that was 13,500 in length... I have never heard of Mr. Everett and his role in the Gettysburg Address, in fact I doubt very few non-historians have heard of his speech.
Length is often not everything, if you can get your message across in a short concise talk, like Mr. Lincoln then you should probably do so!
Originally posted at my presentation blog www.clearlypresentable.com
Posted by Ed at Monday, December 14, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
After much thinking on the matter I have decided to try putting my presentation skills to some use and start up my own presentation design business. Clear presentation design, found at www.clearpreso.com is my main website. Clear presentation design will offer services such as presentation makeovers, content generation and video presentations to begin with.
Posted by Ed at Saturday, December 05, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
It might not occur to most people, but meetings are expensive, very expensive. I am not talking about room rental, equipment rental, the cost of the tea and the chocolate biscuits that Doris the tea lady brings in to the meeting room (although add this in later if you really want), nope I am in fact talking about the cost of the time wasted in the vast majority of meetings.
Although you may think that meetings are just part and parcel of the way your business operates and therefore should not be subjected to criticism, I must tell you that the cost of most meetings is easily calculated, and absurdly large and underestimated.
Let’s imagine that Mr. Director of company X would like to call an internal meeting to discuss the launch of the company’s wonderful new product. The next afternoon all 50 employees shuffle into the large meeting room to hear the Director talk about the new product. The presentation is quite awful, it is poorly structured, conveys little to no information and does little to clear up uncertainties about what the new product will mean for various employees’ roles.
Let’s imagine that this presentation droned on for an hour, a very reasonable estimate. That was very much a completely wasted hour for each employee in attendance, 50 working hours are now firmly down the drain. If you were even more adventurous with your analysis of this meeting you could try and put a financial costing to it. Assuming that the average per-hour wage of the employees is €30 (very conservative here) that meeting has cost the company €1,500 in potential working hours and has given the audience little or no real value or information.
The lesson to be learnt here is that presentations are often an inappropriate form of communication. The Director could have chosen to send around a Word document in this situation describing the details and consequences of the launch. Or, if the Director was hell bent on making a presentation out of it, he could have at least practised out his presentation several times, been clear on the facts and trimmed the presentation down to a reasonable timeframe.
While this might go unnoticed in internal situations, the same will not be true for external meetings. People don’t like having their time and money wasted, so calculate the value of your next presentation (time x people x average wage per hour) – is it worth it? Have you worked hard enough to deliver real value and information? If not… START WORKING ON IT
Posted by Ed at Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
After last night's Ireland versus France game concluded with a frankly absurd judgement by the ref with regards to Theirry Henry's handball some are calling for a boycott of Gillette products if Mr. Henry continues to be one of their cover boys.
Posted by Ed at Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I found this by way of the wonderful http://www.pkellypr.com/blog/ a blog worth visiting for definite.
Posted by Ed at Monday, November 16, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I mentioned previously here that I would continue my rant on Aer Lingus, so I will.
Posted by Ed at Thursday, November 05, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Well pumpkin carving time comes but once a year, and after the initial gutting of the pumpkin -which I really hate - it's actually quite fun to carve this vegetable/fruit/not too sure into a nice design.
Posted by Ed at Sunday, November 01, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Posted by Ed at Thursday, October 29, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
While listening to "The Bottom Line" a BBC business podcast I heard some information that both shocked and appalled me regarding trains. They may just shock and appall you also.
Posted by Ed at Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Posted by Ed at Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Posted by Ed at Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Posted by Ed at Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Well the 2009 Slideshare competition is coming to an end, the public vote is now over and the control is now in the hands of the very qualified judges (including one Mr. Guy Kawasaki - who as you might know is a good friend of mine that is to say I met him once).
Posted by Ed at Friday, September 18, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Posted by Ed at Saturday, September 12, 2009