The rule of 1,440

Any photographer will tell you that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. For example:
There are 24 hours in a day. We have learned to measure the day in hours and there is a comfortable feeling associated with this practice. There are also 1,440 minutes in a day, but this knowledge sounds difficult to manage or even useless, at first.
1,440 minutes… feels like a lot of time and that’s probably why most minutes in our lives go by without us even realizing it… we feel that they don’t mean a lot and then they end up meaning nothing.
But if you think about it, our most powerful emotions are connected with single moments, not hours or days. That’s how long it takes to create a lasting impression. Memories are imprinted in seconds and last for a lifetime. So every minute counts. Enjoy the low times. But be ready to recognize the moments that make a difference.

Guns don’t kill people. But -powerpoint- bullets kill plenty

This is the sequel to my recent post “if you want to test a man’s character give him power*point", that created a lot of conversation. Here is some additional practical advice, in less than 1 minute:

1. One slide-One Idea: Ideally don’t use bullet points.
2. If you have to use bullets at all, use them sparingly and think of them as newspaper headlines (or twitter posts). “Just do it” is better than “it’s about time that you start doing it because it’s important”
3. Help people SEE what you are SAYING: Communicate your Ideas with strong visual grammar. Engage peoples’ senses, but practice Design, not decoration
4. Take ownership of your content: What would happen if your presentation file got lost just before the meeting? Challenge yourself to Go Powerpoint-less.
5. The number of slides is irrelevant (as long as you do #4): Check Garr Reynolds presentation on SlideShare: its 184 slides but you can read it in 6 minutes.
6. Use Drama: Press B when in slide show and your screen will turn Black, forcing your audience to focus on you. (or W for white)

Last but not least, follow the Golden rule from Slide:ology:
Never deliver a presentation that you wouldn’t want to sit through.

ANYONE can be Creative.

"Anyone but me” you might say. Wrong. ANYONE can "cook". (To paraphrase Chef Gusteau from Ratatuille). But there are different roles in a kitchen. Here is some advice to get started:
1.Be wrong: The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas. It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong than to be always right by having no ideas at all.
2.Work hard: Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
3.Know your "data": First process the experience you have collecting data (“in your head”) and then the data itself (“heavy lifting”) – Repeat.
4. Experiment: Try something new. You don’t know what you don’t know until you do what you usually don’t do.
5. Come up with bad ideas: If you are looking for “black” go to the opposite (which is “NOT black” and not necessarily white) and then jump back.
6. Redefine creativity: if nothing else works, stick to what you do best. Everyone “creates” something so in that sense creativity is not just about pretty pictures and vision. It’s also about execution. If this is what you do best, so be it. After all, the idea is the execution.


If you want to test a man’s character, give him power*point

If you work in corporate America you have been conditioned to have very low expectations from powerpoint presentations. It doesn't have to be that way.

Here is a list of insights from Slide:ology, an interesting book about “the art and science of creating great presentations” :
  1. Presentation software is the first application broadly adopted by professionals that requires people to think visually.
  2. It’s laziness on the presenter’s part to put everything on one slide.
  3. To succeed as a presenter you must think as a designer. Designers focus on experience and every decision they make is intentional. It’s a good rule to try to remove everything on a slide that doesn’t bring emphasis to your point.
  4. Removing means empty space. But empty space is not nothing. It’s a powerful something and we have to learn to see it that way. Equally, a pause during a presentation is a tool. It creates drama and reinforces the story.
  5. “The three second rule”: the audience should be able to quickly ascertain the meaning of a slide before turning their attention back to the presenter. If a slide contains more than 75 words it’s a document. The audience reads ahead and has to wait for you to catch up (eventually they stop paying attention to you and you also look slow)
  6. Data slides are not about data. They are about the meaning of the data.
  7. People’s retention of data increases when they can “see” the numbers. (Example: 100 drops of water represent 100% of water on earth; animation of one water drop dissolving reveals that only 1% is fresh water)

Slide:ology is available from O'Reilly Media.

*one of the opening lines of the book (paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln)