Presentation: Pseudo Analog in digital slideware


If the title got your attention, let me now explain what I meant.

Our CEO is a phenomenally great presenter, and sometimes we just go out of our way to attend his talks only to hear him speak. I recently attended one of his talks at the company meeting. He used a new technique this time. And wow, did it have an impact or what?

He had used beautiful large images as usual. He had picked a nice theme. He had equated the state of our company to be like a construction site and in constant progress, and hence he had fantastic images of construction sites and heavy machinery. And on these slides with the huge images, he had no bullet points. No fancy fonts. Most of his text was a scrawl using a nice flouroscent marker colour (or perhaps he used a fantastic handwriting font).

This blend of a seemingly analog technique (writing by hand) and a digital medium had a pretty good effect. This is not new, if you think about it. In the age of transparencies (not sure how many of the younger readers have even seen a transparency sheet), we used to print out material onto the transparency slide and if we wanted to build up a case, we would use a transparency marker and write on the slide. This gives a feeling of  engagement and involvement of the presenter.

I thought it was a pretty nifty idea, that I would share here in the blog.

One man’s redesign of the PRISM slides

By now, we would have all read and shown our rage against PRISM and NSA and how our data is being watched. By now, we would also have settled down and accepted it as normal, and get back to whatever we were doing earlier. Emiland did not get back to what he was doing. He just thought that the slides were horrendous and created a slide set on how he would have created them. And they are wow.



Just viewed a TED talk called “The silent drama of Photography.” Though the talk by Sebastiao Salgado is about a moving story about how he dropped a career as an economist (PhD in economics) and got into photography, how photography almost killed him, how he got back to photography ; the talk has a deep call to action — bring back the forests.

[ted id=1729]

Sebastiao is not a native English speaker (he is Brazilian), but he presents beautifully. At a whole new level. Being a big presentation enthusiast, some of my observations are:

  • Beautifully simple language. No complicated words, talks, jargon.
  • Punctuated by short periods of showing photographs. Two things stood out here. Each time he wanted to show some photographs, his tone would be of such humility that it would almost be like, requesting to indulge him a bit. Second thing was, he did not speak a word during those photographs. No description. When he took it. Why? Who? Nothing. He let the photographs sink in to the audience. Powerful technique.
  • Body language showing a lot of sincerity.
  • Just one joke, but that too, bringing a deep meaning to it. About how trees help soak water for us. (Relating it to drying hair for people with normal hair vs his bald head).
  • Call to arms. At the end of the talk, he says – “It is easy. I did it. And so can you.”. Collectively we can do it. In a very non intrusive way, he also says, we did it in Brazil, but it looks like you guys (in America) need it too. So get going. Do it.

Happiness -> Success

A fantastic TED talk from Shawn Achor about how happiness leads to success, and not the other way around. Most of us are conditioned to think the other way. If we get a job, we need a better job. If we buy a house, we need a bigger house. The elusive happiness then becomes a dream that is “just out of reach” forever.

More than this message, I would like to draw attention to his presentation style. Funny. Engaging. Wonderfully rehearsed, yet natural. You would not even realize when he gave the message. He just “plants” it in you.

God made a farmer

The beautifully simple Dodge RAM commerical during super bowl 2013. Wow. A visually telling story. The commentary is awesome as well. Full of emotion. Just looking at those images, and the commentary on why God made a farmer, brings in a single simple thought in the mind – “God made the farmer. And the farmer needs a great vehicle. He deserves it.” That is the power of a good presentation.

Update: Watch this parody too. This gives the true state of farming in the USA.

Project Update Presentation

I have always been a fan of good presentation design. But the most common push back I get is – “All those single word 72 point stuff is for Steve Jobs style presentations or marketing folk. Well, here is one preso, which is a status update presentation, that will fix that perception. Sure, it is not single word all the way, but it is one sentence + an optional graph per page. Check this out.

Life After Penguin [slideshare id=13410949&w=425&h=355&sc=no]

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