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adamstjohn
Nuremberg and Dominica
I'm an British experience designer, comedian, singer, actor, marketer and psychologist living in Bavaria...
Recent Activity
Actually, I think I said, ahem, (puts on deep voice and speaks into a glass jar while hissing)... "Never underestimate the power of the Dark Slide" Anyway, these are not the slides you are looking for, They are free to go. Adam
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Jeff! I too agree that presentations should be as visual as possible - but why assume that the visuals have to be projected on the screen, making the presenter look small and gloomy in comparison? What about props, costumes, paper graphics, writing boards, skits and scenes? What about the presenter's face and body language? All these are "human scale" and allow the presenter to be well lit and to dominate. I disagree strongly that a presentation without (projected?) visuals is only suitable for entertainment purposes. Look at so many TED talks that have changed lives, and use no screen. Look at the orators that Jon mentions - all were screenless. We do not change behaviour through facts, we change behaviour through passion, inspiration and example. Facts can be useful afterwards to help people justify their emotional decision - and can be better delivered through other channels. All the best, Adam
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Jon! As you know, I tend to go to some effort to avoid slideware - I have even been known to enlist ten of the audience to make a "Living Bar Chart" when numbers were necessary. You don't go as far, but it seems we agree that slideware should not be an automatic choice, and should only be used when it is the best tool for the job. There is one point I would bring up, though. A screen is a source of light, and as such is a distraction in itself (our eyes are always drawn to TVs, fireplaces, sparkling lakes). I believe that the strongest broadcast channel I have is my own face and body, and we should never forget that that glowing rectangle will, by its luminous nature, distract from my person. This is why I prefer to go without it if I can - or at least make heavy use of the B button... All the best, and thanks for another great post. Adam
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Great post, Jon. Just wanted to chip in with the (implied but unspoken) thought that alternative visuals can include props, white/blackboards, paper charts, human interaction (with the audience, or via scenes and skits), costume or simply a lively, engaging performance. All the best, Adam
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And I should add that when I do use slideware, most of the time is is switched OFF. I love the "B" button...
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Jon! Thanks for the great conversation. :) I agree that slideware (I prefer the neutral term - after all, I'm a Mac) can be a great tool. I even use it myself - to run films, to discuss visuals, to show real world things that I can't bring into the room. But I hate the fact that "with slideware" is the default setting for presentations. I have seen some terrific presentations with slideware, I have seen better ones without. More tellingly, I have seen people do lousy slideware presentations, then abandon it and do excellent ones, because they were able to show their passion... So I'm not for a blanket ban on slideware. I just dream of a day when there is far less of it. Let's say that 99% of presentations currently use slideware. I wish the figure were 10%. Yes, I think one in ten presentations needs slideware. Of the other nine, three would have been better without it, and six should never have been held at all. Presentations are a lousy way to impart information, but people use them to do just that. If you need to inform someone, use a document, an e-learning course, a workshop, or small-group sessions - not presentation. Use presentations to inspire! And that is often - not always - easier without the Big Glowing Rectangle. All the best, Adam
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Hi John, you'll not be surprised when I say that this is a great idea, a bold move by the organisers, and will lead to better communication at the event. As you point out, slideware can be used well. But as you also point out, it almost never is. Often, this is because people have learned (wrongly) that presentation=slidedeck. They work on a slidedeck, or are given one, and then think their presentation is ready. Every point they need to say has to go in the slidedeck, because presentation=slidedeck. Everything someone might need to know has to go in the slidedeck, because presentation=slidedeck. The "subtle" message that their company is expert in the field has to go into the slidedeck, because... you get the point. You argue that the problem is not the tool, but the worker - and I agree. But how can I get a worker to try other tools? Gentle suggestion hardly seems to be working... :) This ban forces people to consider alternatives. And when they consider alternatives that look like being more work, they are forced to think about what exactly they are trying to say - perhaps for the first time. They certainly won't be writing all their bulletpoints on a whiteboard, because there simply isn't time. But they might write the main point, in fewer words... so we already have better focus. Working from a flipchart or board is automatically more cooperative and more freeform - so perhaps some communication will take place, rather than just broadcast. I liken this ban to the No-Car Days in some cities. Sure, the cars will be back the next day, but people will have learned that they do have other options, and they will see that - wow! - some of those options are sometimes better than a car, an start to use them voluntarily. If that were the only benefit of this ban (I think there will be others in terms of better sessions), that would already be a good thing. :) All the best Adam Work•Play•Experience
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Andy, I'll miss the blog. It is about the only one I visit every day... but I am sure that your new output will be just as valuable! All the best, Adam
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Susan! I use these four rules for any break - whether it's 5 days or 5 minutes long. They really boost attention, energy and creativity after the break. 1. Change of subject. (In my workshops, talking about the course content during breaks is taboo. There's plenty of reflection time in the course itself.) 2. Change of scenery. (Get a new visual stimulus by changing location, opening a magazine, or even by closing your eyes, opening your imagination and listening to music.) 3. Refreshment. (Open windows. BREATHE. Grab a sip of water, a bite of apple, a cigarette if you must. Just change your blood chemistry.) 4. Move! (Don't stay in your seat. Even just walking around the room is better; walking round the building is great. And this boosts the effectiveness of the breathing rule - a change of air works wonders.) Cheers! Adam workplayexperience.com
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Got another one for you Andy. Sometimes, when you are slogging away on an uphill stretch, or for a sprint, it's easy to spend too much time looking at the road twelve inches in front of your front wheel. It's important, even when slogging, to sit up and look around now and again. It might give you advance warning of that hazard, and hey - you might enjoy the view! Cheers and pedal well, Adam WorkPlayExperience experiencedesign.de
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Susan, I think that the increasing level of knowledge you mention will help the manufacturers here. Cleverly, the wine industry is complaining in an undertone "...but wine is BETTER with a screw top - it's BETTER for the quality. If only we could communicate that!" As more and more people learn more about their libations, they will encounter statements like these and will be happy switching to screw tops. (I wonder if the industry would be well advised to simply make screw top wine more expensive than the equivalent cork top? That would send a clear quality message...) Of course, we have to trust those more knowledgeable than us when they say that a screw top is better for the wine. If we ever find out they have been lying to us, they will lose a huge authenticity benefit... Prost! Adam experiencedesign.de
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I think I'd take slight issue with your definition of "user" here. A user is usually thought of as a person without the nous to be more than a consumer. He doesn't have the knowledge, rights or passwords to shape the system, to "output" rather than consume. When the Beatles got their first contract, they gained that which a "user level" content producer did not have - the magical mystery means to produce shiny plastic discs. Immediately, they were users no more - precisely because they had power. What we are seeing now is not a change in the profile of people producing content; it is a lowering of hurdles - be it in terms of knowledge, rights or passwords. Sure, content has always been generated by "normal guys", but until now the "normal guys" at user level could not _do_ anything with their content....
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