Can You Hear Me Up the Back?

Writing for PowerPoint 3: Snappy Headlines

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It’s a bit of a myth that people won’t read bullet points. Stand near the magazine rack near the supermarket checkout, and tell me you aren’t interested to learn more about Angelina’s Hot Tub Romp Shocks Brad - Pics! You just have to make your bullet points more interesting. Yes, tabloid mags have juicier subject material to work with than you do, but you can adapt their techniques to add more zing to your presentation about indexed pension fund returns.

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The TED Commandments: lose hustle, win friends.

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There’s a time and a place for a sales presentation, and conferences aren’t it. People pay good money to go to conferences. In return, they want to learn amazing new things, discover future trends, and learn how others in the same industry have solved problems. They don’t want a blatant sales hustle from the lectern. Conference sponsors find this hard to resist, having paid good money to support the delegates’ voracious appetite for liquor each evening.

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Secret Men’s Presentation Tips

Can You Hear Me Up the Back?

Are you a man? Do you present to women? Did you know there’s a single, vital element of your presentation that you’ve probably never considered? One that’s never mentioned in the presentation tips books. And if you get it wrong, it can cancel out all the good work you’ve done with graphics, scriptwriting and vocal practice. It’s shoes. At the risk of turning this post into some kind of Sex In The City scenario, try this experiment.

2010 50

Shock Study: Fonts Are Actually Really Important

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“Please. That font doesn’t match those shoes.&#. For years, people in black clothes and matching square-frame glasses have told you that font choice is important for successful communication. But how important are fonts, really ? Maybe that’s just the designer’s opinion, rather than a scientifically proven fact. After all, communication is fertile territory for pseudo-science and wrong conclusions from legitimate research.

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10 Presentation Tips From Steve Jobs’ iPad Launch

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Edited launch video. Full version (1hr 20min) here. Steve Jobs is rightly regarded as a master of the presentation universe. How many presentations get that level of global PR hype, both before and after the event? Here are 10 lessons to draw from the iPad launch speech: 1. Open with an attention-grabbing amazing fact: in this case, that Apple has now shifted its 250 millionth iPod. Which tells the audience: we’re probably right about this new product too. 2. No jargon.

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Conan O’Brien vs The G Man

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Now where was I? Sorry about the two months off. Ironically, all my spare time got consumed by a couple of heavy-duty presentations. You always underestimate how long it takes to develop a completely new presentation, unless you’re knocking out a quick bullet point show, and that would leave us open to charges of hypocrisy.

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New MICE.net article: Q&A

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There’s a new issue of MICE.net magazine on the streets. This issue, my column questions the ancient convention of Q&A (the event kind, not the Tony Jones TV show that sends Twitter into hyperdrive). Sometimes, meetings are no place for democracy.

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Hello Cleveland!

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Most things you need to know about staging large events can be learned from This Is Spinal Tap. What event producer hasn’t turned up on site to find some equivalent of a 18-inch high Stonehenge set, because someone misread the plans? I had my own Spinal Tap moment the other week.

Jargon Buster Tip: Sacrifice Your Offerings

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“The shareholders must be appeased!&#. Here’s a quick tip to cut the jargon factor in your presentations. Drop the word “offerings&#. Personally, it makes me squirm whenever I hear some marketing manager presenting their “class-leading range of product offerings&#. It makes me think of their product being plucked, still pulsing with warm blood, from some unfortunate’s chest on an altar high above a volcano by men with sinister feathered masks.

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Practice Twitter To Cut The Blather

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All presenters should Twitter, to practice compressing an idea into 140 characters. More clarity, more impact. End of post. Blather.

Graphic Tips: Making Text Clearer On Photos

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The design guys and I are working on a food packaging project at the moment. It’s quite a fiddly task. There’s a Dan Brown novel’s worth of legal mandatories to fit on each box, much of it warnings about the two greatest threats to Western civilisation: nuts and crustaceans.

Five Thoughts On Your Twitter Strategy

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You can’t always write about presentations, so welcome to Off-Topic Sunday! Since every blog in the world suggests you need a personal or corporate Twitter strategy, here are five things to consider before you do. Ashton Kutcher. This week, he beat CNN to be the first to have a million followers. So the global showpiece of the Future of Communication is a stream of random thoughts from a man-boy actor best known as cougar bait. Stephen Fry.

Top 5 Tips for Presenting Disastrous Numbers

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Presenting any kind of graph showing financial performance is tough these days. On any kind of charts showing figures, we’re seeing the kind of canyon-style drops that should really feature a coyote frantically backpedaling in mid-air. If you’re a corporate treasurer, hedge fund manager, or in charge of your entire nation’s economy, here are some tips for making your next presentation a bit more palatable. J ust Plain Wrong.

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Telling A Story With Numbers

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If you present with numbers, you know how hard it is to bring them to life. Not all of us can be as riveting as maths lecture wizard Matthew Weathers. Here are some useful tips from Lizzie O’Leary of Bloomberg News, an organisation that faces a daily challenge of presenting endless numbers without giving their audience a general anaesthetic. The two core issues that should drive any presentation are: 1. People like stories. Always have, always will.

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Social Media Explained in One Image

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Not many people use Venn diagrams in presentations, maybe because they remind us of school. But you won’t find a better explanation of social media than this gem: (Via despair.com , available as a t-shirt). Another fine source of Venn diagrams and graph explaining social situations is Jessica Hagy’s brilliant Indexed.

New MICE.net article: Question Everything

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When most companies plan an event, they’re focused on the ‘ how? ‘ rather than the ‘why? ‘ So there are endless meetings about what brand of wine to serve, and whether the delegates should be arranged theatre style or classroom style. Where should the off-site dinner be? These are all important questions, but few people actually give much thought to why they’re having the meeting in the first place.

2010 40

Never Hold Discussions With The Monkey…

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“Two pages or less, dammit!&#. Our Paris correspondent, John, writes in with an ancestor of Pete’s Law , the replacement of all PowerPoint with a Word document no more than 2 pages long. Apparently Winston Churchill required all reports to be submitted on one sheet of paper so as not to slow down the war effort. He was a man who understood that clear communication can sometimes be a matter of life or death.

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Revolutionary New Touch-Screen Projector

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If you’re looking for the future of presentation technology, you only need look as far as CSI Miami and its futuristic rainbow-lit headquarters. That’s where you’ll find image scanners that can query a database of all the left-handed golf gloves in Florida, and bring up a photo and address of each owner. We’ve previously discussed their image sharpening software that can take a grainy security camera image and enlarge it to full HD.

Edward de Bono: The Pen Is Mightier Than The PowerPoint

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Edward de Bono ponders the human need for PowerPoint. I’ve never been chased down the street by an angry lynch mob of AV technicians before, bent on stringing me up from a lamp post with multicore cable, wrists and ankles securely gaffer-taped together. But I think that’s what’s going to happen when they read this. The Rules of Presentation. Presentations have rules, just like everything else. You have to learn the rules.

Five Things To Learn From Heston Blumenthal: Part 2

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What can you learn about presentations from a TV chef who puts vibrators into a giant, luminescent jelly to make it wiggle as it arrives at the table? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Today, the second half of what presenters can learn from chef Heston Blumenthal. A Sense Of Theatre. In the olden days, there was no TV or laptop to keep you amused in the evenings. Food, at least for the nobility, was the entertainment.

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Five Things To Learn From Heston Blumenthal: Part 1

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Welcome back to 2010, folks. Been away from the blog longer than expected, but that’s probably a good thing. At this time of year I always feel sorry for Americans, who only get about three days leave a year. Holiday deprivation can often lead to a blinkered, captive-animal approach to work, shying away from any idea or technique that breaks the templated approach. And there are few forms of communication as templated as the TV cooking show.

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Break The Pattern of Dullness: 10 Questions To Ask Yourself

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Pic Apremorca. Presentations are often about trying to get people to change their thinking or behavior. To try a new way of doing things. To see a subject through fresh eyes. Change is a tricky thing to achieve, because most people over 25 are very set in their ways and fear change more than spiders. But what about yourself?

Guitar Heroes On The Move

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Last week was the annual Scene Change Christmas party tour, which was excellent. As is traditional, Scene Change Hobart held its annual staff barbecue party the day after the client event. It had a special significance this year: a farewell to the Kingston shed-warehouse, headquarters of the glorious Scene Change Revolucion of late 2006. We’re moving into a very attractive new office in the Hobart CBD, at the rear of the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

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Lessons from the Westpac banana disaster

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Westpac has rightly taken a lot of stick for its animated presentation on why they’ve raised mortgage rates beyond everyone else. The overall idea is a good one - explain to confused customers what’s been happening with the money supply over the last year. And the simplicity of its animated figures might have worked well with a better thought-out message, even though the people have been taken directly off the doors of ladies’ and gents’ public bathrooms.

2009 40

Video Killed the Presentation Star: Don’t Go Blank On Your Audience

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There you are up in front of an expectant audience, buck naked, without a script, and you open your mouth and nothing comes out. That’s the standard presentation nightmare, though if you eat a lot of cheese before you go to bed, sometimes you get the enhanced version in which the audience consists entirely of llamas in lederhosen. As you know, that sort of thing rarely happens in actual life.

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Forsooth, it’s the Debt and Deficit Dragon!

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People love ye olde medieval frolics. Who hasn’t been to a Dirty Dick’s or the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur? And at least one regular reader of this blog got married in medieval style with lutes and town criers and acres of velvet. Until now, there hasn’t been much medieval work done in the world of presentations.

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Scene Change Tasmania: Mo Heroes Raise Over $2200

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The great cliche of presentation blogs is that people fear making a speech more than death itself. Speeches, though, only win the silver medal in the Phobia Olympics. Most men would rather do a thousand speeches than have a single conversation with their mates about prostate examinations, let alone actually have one done. Which brings us, with that very tenuous link, to the magnificent effort of the Scene Change Hobart team in supporting vital men’s health issues during Movember.

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Writing for PowerPoint Part 2: Simplify Your Words

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Legendary circus hustler PT Barnum used to put a sign at his overcrowded American Museum: This Way To The Egress. Visitors would assume that an egress was some kind of amazing creature, like the Bearded Lady or Iguana Boy, so they’d flock through the door and find themselves out in the street. Because ‘egress’ means ‘exit’, and if they wanted to get back in, they’d have to pay ol’ PT again.

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Writing for PowerPoint Part 1: Active Voice

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Pic: Business Week. A big part of the art of PowerPoint is the ability to write slides with clear, short sentences. So your ideas leap off the screen with the power they deserve. So your bullet points never stray into the fatal second line. So you can save money on AV because you won’t need a wider screen. Over the next couple of posts we’ll look at how to whip flabby slidewriting into a lean, buffed’n’sculpted message.

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Misguided message fails to stop spread of germs

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They’ve built an excellent new library just around the corner from my office. It has free wireless and looks like some kind of Apple flagship store, so it’s quite a pleasant spot to do some work when you need a change of scenery. In the bathroom, though, is this patronising piece of committee-driven communication. It’s not a presentation, but it’s instructive to think of it as a single PowerPoint slide trying to get an important message across.

2009 40

Screens in Your Magazines

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For an audiovisual company blog, we don’t run much material about audiovisual technology, because our clients and presenters aren’t really interested in the technical detail of our projectors. But wait for it, here’s something interesting about screens! Americhip , a US company that does ’sensory’ marketing tools like those scratch & sniff strips in magazines, has developed a tiny video screen that can sit inside a magazine and play your client’s ads.

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Top 5 Soul-Destroying Audience Lines

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No offence, but of all the people who read this blog, you are the most dim-witted, banjo-pickin’, web-fingered, snaggle-toothed, snuff-munching inbred that ever managed to read a computer screen. Hey, no offence ! What is it that makes people come out with lines like these in meetings and presentations? As if the magic preface ‘no offence’ gives them total diplomatic immunity to trample all over your ideas without anyone finding it rude or obstructive.

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Win Designer Sunglasses For Making Stuff Up

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Are you a cool person? Neither am I, but that doesn’t matter in Scene Change’s Australia’s Coolest Event Person award contest. Most event industry awards involve writing thesis-length submissions and getting written references. Not this one, you can just make stuff up. And the more far-fetched the claim, the better. Then all you have to do to win deluxe designer sunglasses is get people to vote for you.

Smart staging makes maths cool

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If you took a poll of audiences everywhere, maths lectures are up there with OH&S inductions and televised golf for stifling dullness. So top marks (ho ho!) to Matthew Weathers, professor of maths at Biola University, who proves that presentation greatness doesn’t need big budgets, just a great idea. n this case, it’s an idea that you could stage using very basic AV equipment. And a long rehearsal to get the timings right.

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How To Be Everyone’s Cup Of Tea*

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I’ve been trying to drink a bit less coffee lately. That means drinking tea, a product so dull it makes me feel like stabbing myself in the thigh with a pocket knife to check that I’m still alive. I’ve been through boring regular tea, tedious green tea, nauseating fruit-flavored ‘infusions’, and arrived at the least worst of the teas, the African Rooibos tea.

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The Mo State Backs Up For Movember

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David Boon: Mo Hero. There’s no doubt which state leads Australia in moustache production. That would be Tasmania. While other states dropped the mo for a couple of decades, or only resurrected them for ironic purposes, great Tasmanians like David Boon and David Foster scaled the heights of achievement while sporting classic handlebar facial growth. David Foster: Mo Hero.

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Tips For Putting On A Better Show

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Last post we spoke of how two revolutions have overlapped to lower the quality of picture and sound reproduction in every area of our lives. The digital entertainment revolution has compressed everything to fit through the web, and the Chinese manufacturing revolution has made equipment cheap and disposable. So the overall production values of presentations have plunged.

Creating A Memorable Live Experience

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Nobody Forgets The Claw. As a piece of Youtube entertainment, the global U2 show was pretty good. The sort of production values that you can rely on from U2, and another epic bit of staging with their giant claw. A digitally-minded person could watch it and think, ‘ wow, it’s almost as good as being there.’. But it isn’t. It’s on a screen the size of a cigarette packet, and I’m listening to it through a $5 earpiece I use for Skype.

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Storynappin’ Varmints

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I heard a radio phone-in segment the other day, in which callers related tales of having their stories stolen by other people. There seems to be a lot of it about. Imagine you had a really hilarious experience, full of amusing twists and turns. Like this squirm-inducing tale from singer Megan Washington: Then picture yourself at a party, where you find one of your friends telling an entralled circle of people the story – with themself as the central midget tickler character instead of you.

Information Is Beautiful

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When you present with numbers a lot, the reflex instinct is to go straight for graph template #1 on the PowerPoint menu. Good old trusty column graph, a friend you’ve known since primary school. And for that very reason, unless you’re using the graph to show your staff that they’re all getting a 50% pay rise, it’s going to be very dull and predictable for your audience. What you need is some inspiration on how to bring numbers to life.

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Twitter in meetings: opportunity or apocalypse?

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“There’s an invisible underworld of delegates in your audience hooked on Twitter: commenting on the presenter, the food, themselves, and their favorite character from Star Wars.&#. I’m writing a monthly column now for MICE.net magazine. This month it’s about social media invading the world of conferences and presentations. View the on-line version here. It’s one of those screen-magazine style viewers, so when you get there, ask it to go to page 82.

Old Photos Prove Human Evolution Has Peaked

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. Hemingway, you ain’t. . Big presentation at the weekend. It was our Dad’s 80th birthday party. He was a sixties marketing guy called Don, though more of a packaged foods man than Don Draper. We put together a video from old shots of a bygone, excellent era when dads had their own chair, smoked constantly and dressed properly for work. .

Sales Presentations Part 2: Make Your Business Seem Bigger

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Pic courtesy Eva. Last post we spoke of some of the traps small business people make when they’re doing sales presentations, particularly the relentless use of the exclamation mark. Trivia: did you know that in print newsrooms, where every exclamation mark is hunted down and exterminated, they call them a ‘dog’s dick’? Well, now you do. Once you’ve removed some of the small business-y claims from your presentation, here are 5 tips on what to replace them with.

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