Seeing Nancy Duarte and Australia

December 1, 2008

Got wind of the fact that Nancy Duarte was speaking at the Soho Apple store in New York last week, so hopped on the subway last Tuesday and went down to hear her present.
Looking online I see that she has presented this material many times before. Whatever. She was really engaging, and her presentation was so personal that she came across as caring about us as individuals, as people who care about what they do as professionals, as people interested enough in this craft to come out on a chilly evening in New York. She cared about taking that time to convey that message –- caring about your audience —  not because she made one cent from this, but because she is obviously passionate about her passion.


A Pre-Show that Paid Off

First up on the big screen in the Apple store was all those Mac vs. PC ads – one after another. Kind of cool and cute on TV, but really, really annoying when played in some long sequence, something they were never designed for. Also so loud that you couldn’t escape!
Then, however, a mini documentary about sound design for Baz Luhrmann’s new movie, Australia. Baz was speaking at the store the next night – kudos to Apple for cool, interesting and engaging programming. I’ve never thought much about sound in movies, other than all the obvious dialog. Even in the quietest of quiet moments, there’s the whisper of wind, the rustle of a garment. This totally interesting short movie explained in layman’s terms how all that is conceived, captured, and integrated into the finished product.
It made me go see the movie this weekend! It made me think again about how every detail in a presentation counts. Fonts, color, spacing, pacing, how every tiny thing says, “I care,” or even more importantly, “I care about my audience.”


A Tale of Two Stories

October 5, 2008

My wife and I both presented at an Educator’s Conference yesterday. No matter how much I read, there’s nothing like seeing other people in action to learn what works and what doesn’t.

The One That Worked

The chap who gave the keynote was great. His topic and delivery were engaging. But… here’s what didn’t work. He started off assuming that everyone had come to this same conference the year before, so in some ways this was a continuation of last year! He didn’t have a remote control, so his talk was punctuated by “next slide please.” All words on the slides, including for the header, which I couldn’t read because it was so small. Lots (and lots) of information, and he talked way too fast. He ran out of time, so went even faster at the end.

But… here’s what worked. He had a GREAT story at the end, that left everyone gasping and clapping, totally envigorated and talking about what a great presentation it was. So I learned (again) that it’s not always about the technical stuff, the slides and all that. If I’m able to more people’s hearts then that’s what counts.

The One That Didn’t

Second guy I heard was presenting a breakout. This fellow has traveled the world presenting his material in all kinds of settings. This time though, I wasn’t so impressed. He started with a video using his laptop speaker for sound. He didn’t have his presentation up and ready to go when he did start, so had to scramble to get it up and running. He continually walked right in front of the monitor, so it blacked out the screen. Only thing that could have been more distracting would have been making animal puppets with his hands!

Later in his presentation though was the worst crime — flipping past multiple slides to get to the next point he wanted to talk about. All this said to me (and perhaps to everyone else) as that he hadn’t prepared his slides for this event. He’d just used an existing presentation. Nothing wrong with that, but to leave in all the stuff that he didn’t want to use?

So there it is — THE STORY WINS.

Really, really happy

August 16, 2008

Design and Grand Central Terminal

July 23, 2008

I’m really lucky to work right next to Grand Central Terminal in NYC. Design is never much further than right outside the door. Yankee fever isn’t much further than right outside the door either. Model’s downstairs made a flag out of Yankee caps. How many people stopped and took photos? A gazillion a day.

Did they see it?

Did they see it?

In Grand Central there was a diamond promotion recently — had them all stopping and taking photos! This was made entirely out of red roses. As they faded, wilted and turned black they dramatically spelled out the fact that while red roses mean love, they do tend to droop — but diamonds are forever.

Are they forever? At least they'll last longer than roses.

Are they forever? At least they'll last longer than roses.

Inside the main terminal itself of course there’s huge design statements everywhere. What a gift this is — coming in on a train to this incredibe space every day.