Oct 16, 2017

Elon Musk starts every Product Launch presentation this way

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is a famous entrepreneur. His company Tesla is harnessing the power of the sun to run cars and homes. His company SpaceX plans to colonize Mars. He sold his previous company PayPal to eBay for $1.5 Billion. Every presentation he makes is watched closely by millions.

So how does this rock star entrepreneur start his product launch presentation? I have analyzed four of his major product launch presentations.
  1. Tesla Powerwall (solar battery)
  2. Tesla Model 3 car
  3. Tesla solar roof
  4. SpaceX mars mission

Elon Musk started each product launch presentation the same way.

He started with WHY, not with WHAT

Elon Musk said this when he launched Tesla Model 3.
"Welcome everyone to the Model 3 unveil. We have an amazing product to show you tonight. I think you gonna be blown away. And... I want to preface this with... Why are we doing this? Why does Tesla exist? Why are we making electric cars? Why does it matter?"

He answered it himself. He said, "It's very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport... This is really important for the future of the world. We have record high CO2 levels."

Elon Musk said this when he launched the solar roof:
"I will start off by just talking about the reason why we are doing this? Which is, as you may have read, we are reaching record CO2 levels. Global warming is a serious crisis and we need to do something about that.

Elon Musk said this when he talked about colonizing Mars:
"Welcome everyone. I am gonna talk more about what it takes to become a multi-planet species. Just a brief refresher on why this is important. I think fundamentally the future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we are a spacefaring civilization and a multi-planet species than if we are not. You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think that the future is going to be great. And that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exiting than going out there and being among the stars. That's why."

Elon Musk had started the launch of the Tesla Powerwall in a similar manner too. In this product launch presentation, he again talked about rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere. He talked about the need to do something about it.

Why does he start with WHY and should you do the same?

Elon Musk could have simply said WHAT he was launching and HOW does it work. Why did he then choose to start with WHY? Because the why matters. It makes people care about what you do and how you do it. Simon Sinek in his famous book (and a TED talk) explains in detail why it is important to start with WHY.

Let us take the Tesla solar roof as an example.

  • What: Tesla solar roof is a beautiful and affordable solar panel that captures solar power and gives you free energy. It looks better and lasts longer than a normal roof.
  • How: Tesla solar roof is made of glass. It is tougher and lasts longer. It costs less too. We do hydrographic printing so that each tile is unique. But no two roofs are the same.
  • Why: Our planet is facing global warming and rising CO2 levels. We need to do something about it. Our mission at Tesla is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.

If you too are launching an important product, pause for a moment and think. Instead of jumping into WHAT your product is and HOW does it work, can you start with WHY does it matter? Why does it matter to you and why does it matter to the audience?

Starting with WHY will arouse interest among your audience and it will make them care more about your product and your company.

Read more about starting with why: How do you start your Company Profile presentation?

Oct 10, 2017

What is Picture Presentation feature in PowerPoint?

PowerPoint has a new feature called 'PowerPoint Picture Presentation'. When you save your presentation as a picture presentation, PowerPoint converts all your slides into pictures. All the elements on a slide are converted into a single image.

Where is it?

File --> Save As --> Choose a folder --> Save as type --> PowerPoint Picture Presentation. You can save your existing presentation as a picture presentation. Make sure you keep a copy of your original, as you cannot edit the picture presentation. The format of the new presentation is still .pptx

When do you need it?

  • To reduce the size of your presentation. The file size will come down significantly.
  • To protect your special fonts. If you have used special fonts, converting your presentation into a picture presentation will preserve everything perfectly.

What do you lose?

Animations. Slide transitions remain intact but all the animations on a slide go away. That is because all the elements on a slide are being clubbed together into one single image.

Try this feature out. It will help you one day :)

Oct 9, 2017

What is going on in CATALONIA? (SIMPLIFIED in 5 minutes)

There is a lot happening in Spain right now. Catalonia wants independence from Spain. I have prepared a short presentation to explain the situation in simple terms. This is meant for educational purposes.

Oct 2, 2017

Shahrukh Khan's TED talk - 5 Lessons for Presenters

Shahrukh Khan, one of the most popular actors of India, gave a TED talk at Vancouver. While the talk sounded too formal and rehearsed, it still has a lot of positives and lessons for presenters.

Structure and logic of his talk
He has broken the talk into 5 parts and it moves chronologically.

  1. Introduction (1 minute 30 seconds)
  2. Part 1 - Early life in Delhi (3 minutes)
  3. Part 2 - Life in Mumbai (2 minutes)
  4. Part 3 - The impact of internet on his life and on humanity (4 minutes)
  5. Conclusion and main message (7 minutes)

His topic was 'The Future of Humanity' and he gave all the messages related to that in the last 7 minutes of his talk. Why did he do that? Why all the story telling for the first 10 minutes?

How do you tell someone what will the future look like? How do you tell someone how to conduct themselves in the future?

Shahrukh first establishes an alignment. He explains his own life and what he has seen. What has he gone through in the last 50 years and how has he seen humanity change in the same time.

By the end of the first 10 minutes, we are now on the same page. We have understood Shahrukh's worldview and are now ready to hear his sermon about the future. This is a solid approach and the most important lesson from this talk.

Excellent use of analogy
His entire talk is based on one simple analogy. Humanity is like him, an aging movie star. In parts 1, 2 and 3 of his talk, he shares stories from his life. He then connects those stories with humanity. He tells us how humanity was back then and how has it changed. He starts 50 years back and over the three parts of his talk brings us to the present (2017).

Garnished with humour

Being an entertainer, Shahrukh knows the power of humour and knows how to use it. As an example look at these two quotes.

  1. "There are a lot of people here who haven't seen my work and I feel really sad for you."
  2. "Lesbian was the capital of Portugal, as you all know."

His entire talk is garnished very well with humour and most of his jokes are on himself. This is a good approach. It makes you more likable. Laughing at someone else could be great for stand-up comedy but not for a TED talk.

He moves us emotionally

Shahrukh has not held back. He has shared personal emotional anecdotes. He has shared his joys but more importantly he has shared his sorrows. He talks about all the rumours about his third child and how people have misused technology and have said whatever they wanted to say.

Sharing emotional messages makes him look like a common human being and helps him connect better with his audience. Being a celebrity, that is a good strategy. It shows that they are also just another human being.

Good use of verbal contrast
Verbal contrast is a well-known approach to explain a point. It creates tension and gives more meaning. He uses it extensively in the last part of his speech. Here are a few examples:

  • "You may use your power to build walls and keep people outside or you may use it to break barriers and welcome them in."
  • "You may use your faith to make people afraid and terrify them into submission or you can use it to give courage to people so they rise to the greatest heights of enlightenment."

5 takeaways for you as a presenter

  1. Decide the logic on which you will base your talk. Shahrukh talks about the past. Exposes you to who he is and what he has been through. Now that you are aligned, he shares his vision for the future. You could agree or disagree with his vision but you understand him and that is more important.
  2. Use an analogy to make your point more clearly.
  3. Use humour. It always makes you more likable. A joke about yourself or about your life. Avoid making fun of others.
  4. Share emotional stories with your audience to connect better.
  5. Create verbal contrast to make your argument more clearly.

Sep 29, 2017

What is white space? How can you use it to design better slides?

White space in graphic design is the empty space where there is no text or any graphic element. White space is not necessarily white. It is just empty space. Look at Google Pixel's print ad below:

There is a lot of empty space in this print ad. This is typical of Google and many other companies. They are known for elegant and simple design. Google's homepage is a great example of good design. There is so much white space there.

Compare this with the next print ad, where you will find very little of... white space. Now compare the two pieces of design and decide which one is more pleasing to the eye and attracts your attention. Whirlpool has cluttered its ad because they are trying to say too many things.

A lot of white space makes your design attractive, easy to read and powerful. Because of so much vacant space, the audience is drawn to what is there; the text, the images and other graphic elements.

How to use white space to design better slides?

When you make slides, ensure there is a lot of white space on your slide. If there is too much content and you cannot avoid it, split the slide into two slides. Let us take an example. I have chosen a random slide from the internet.

On this slide, we find clutter. There is hardly any white space left. Too many elements are fighting for our attention and we do not even want to look at it for more than a few seconds, let alone read everything on it. Now look at one more slide which also has lots of text (sometimes it is unavoidable in a presentation, especially the ones which you email):
Why is the feel different? The background is light grey and the numbered boxes are slightly darker. The text is written on empty boxes. The feel would be totally killed if the text would be written on a different background. Let us see how would that look.
Giving a background to each rectangle, in a slide with so much text, is a bad idea. Make the background of the rectangle transparent and let it merge into the empty space, creating a continuous feel. Here are some examples of slides with more white space (empty space):
In this slide, there is less text and lot of white space. The eyes of the audience focus clearly on the three icons in the slide. Or, take the next slide. The black colour of the image becomes the background and you simply have one line on it. There's lots of empty space which will help us get the audience attention to the one line that matters.
While designing slides, take note of how much white space are you leaving. White space is the breathing space for the audience. The more white space your slide has, the better it looks and the more it appeals to the audience. The power of the text and graphic elements come from the vacant real estate all around it.

Want to read more on slide design?

Here are few links you should check out:
What makes a design look good? [Design Basics Part 1]
Design Basics Part 6: More Tips & Conclusion
How to appear more confident as a presenter? Design bold slides