9: A Simple Guide to Better Presentations — Now On Slideshare

Our new 9 guide is now on Slideshare. Read it online then take the PDF with you–FREE download in the store.

How to Be More Creative: The 5 Phonetic R’s of Creativity

204027819_74140dfd3a“I can’t give a good presentation; I’m not creative enough.”

“I could never paint/draw/pitch/speak/photograph/write/design/build/code like she does; I’m not creative enough.”

“I just don’t know where to get good ideas; I’m not creative enough.”

Enough.

Want to do interesting things? Here’s how.

The 5 Phonetic R’s of Creativity

Read — Creative people notice the world around them. Be a sponge: pay attention and absorb everything. Books, blogs, magazines, audio, and video. Your daily commute, the little things your friends and spouse and children say and do. Everything is fair game. Specifically for presentations, see what others are doing on TED and Slideshare. Make connections between the things that happen in your life and the stuff that feeds your mind.

Write — Keep a swipe file. Write things down in notebooks or journals. Personally, Evernote is my favorite tool. Take pictures with your phone. Make drawings. Write a blog. Don’t wait to write until you think you’ve gotten things figured out. In fact, writing is a great way to figure things out. You’ll see your ideas unfold as you write.

Rest — Your mind needs time and space to process, which means you can’t work 24/7. Sleep. Turn off the computer, take a walk, exercise. Take a bath or a shower (actually, you should do that anyway–not just to be creative). Get out of the house. Pray, reflect, be still. UPDATE: This article on Lifehacker explains some of the science behind rest and creativity.

Restrict — Creativity needs constraints and boundaries. Try the pomodoro technique (Dan Pink does it when he’s writing a book). When you design slides, impose limits: try one color, one font. See what you can design in just an hour. Try slides with pictures, no text. Try just 20 slides. Limit your talk to 10 minutes or 3 minutes. Experiment and see what you can do by thinking inside the box.

Risk — Try something you’ve never tried – you might fail! But you can learn from that. Or you might succeed. Either way, you won’t know unless you try. And what’s the worst that can happen? They can’t eat you (see rule #4).

Notice something about this list?

Creativity has less to do with innate talent and a lot more to do with habits.

In real life, depth of commitment is more important than talent. It’s more important than beauty or skill, more important even than luck, because its produce is perseverance, endurance, tenacity. – Steven Pressfield

That’s it.

No more excuses.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Photo credit: ~ wryonedwards ~
Rule # 4 is included with the permission of Bob Parsons and is copyright © 2004-2006 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

Presentation Design for the College Classroom (LCU Undergraduate Faculty)

Note: I gave a similar presentation to the Hargrove School faculty back in April.

What do effective presentations look like in a college classroom?

Last Friday I offered some thoughts on this with my colleagues in the School of Undergraduate Studies (SUS) at Lincoln Christian University. Here are the key points we covered.

  1. Don’t default to PowerPoint – You have lots of options for learning experiences: demonstrations, writing/drawing on the whiteboard, discussion, video, and more. PowerPoint is just one tool.
  2. One idea per slide – The less that’s on the slide, the fewer distractions, the better the focus. Instead of using one slide with six bullet points, expand that one slide out to six separate slides.
  3. Minimize text – Closely related to #2. Don’t type everything on the slide that you plan to say. Use just a word or two.
  4. Use pictures – Images are powerful and emotional. We remember what we feel. When you use images, don’t feel constrained by the placeholders on the slide–let your photos fill the slide. See The Girl Effect for a good example of these points.
  5. Stories for the win – Stories engage us emotionally and spark curiosity, an essential ingredient for learning. They can also be used to keep and regain attention (See Dr. John Medina’s notes on attention from his book Brain Rules).
  6. Give cues – Many students take notes by writing what they see on the PowerPoint slides–nothing more. Give students verbal cues: “write this down,” “this is important,” “this will be on the test.” You can also build visual cues into your presentation that help them navigate your lecture. For example, create your main point slides in one color and subpoint slides in a different color.
  7. Get inspired – Here are a few helpful resources: TED (and here are some of my favorite talks), Slideshare (here are my favorites), Compfight (great tool for searching images on flickr), Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath (give them your email address and they’ll give you some excellent teaching and presenting resources for free), and Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. I’ll recommend our own book, Presentation Renovation, as well–you can download it right now.

Last fall I wrote a couple posts to help students prepare better presentations for their end-of-semester projects. You might find those helpful as well:

Thanks to Dean Jim Estep and Provost Clay Ham for making time for this in our faculty meeting.

16 Secrets for Better Student Presentations - Renovate Communication Design, LLC

Make better presentations with the Presentation Renovation eBook

Swipe File Friday: SlideShare

Bad artists copy, great artists steal - Picasso - slide designed by Michael Gowin, Renovate Communication Design, LCC

Welcome to Swipe File Friday. Today we highlight the grandaddy of all presentation swipe file inspiration:

SlideShare

SlideShare is a web site that allows anyone to upload slides from PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. Think of it as Facebook for presentations.

You can create a profile for free (although there are paid levels with more features as well) to upload your own presentations and mark other presentations as “favorites.” Even if you never upload a single slide deck, having the ability to save favorites is a huge benefit–you can quickly find presentations that have an interesting design, image, or font that can inspire you. Your SlideShare favorites alone could be your entire swipe file.

Just like Facebook and, generally speaking, the Internet as a whole, there’s a lot in SlideShare that’s, well, not very good. You have to sift a lot of chaff to find the wheat. To help you get started, here’s a link to my personal favorites in SlideShare. As of today, you’ll find 90 great presentations there.

Set up a free profile on SlideShare today and find some inspiration for your presentations.

Next week I’ll show you how to use SlideShare to upload and share your own presentations with the world.