Jun 26, 2011

My Ignite Video & My butterflies

Here is the video of my first Ignite talk. It was at Ignite Hyderabad Volume 1. This was not the first time I was talking to a large gathering (300 to be exact) but this was surely the first time when I was talking at Ignite (and that's tough because you have just 5 minutes and the slides move every 15 seconds). Let me tell you that's scary when I heard it the first time :-)

Watch me speak here:

You can see the slides here.

The talk was very well received by the audience but I know how tense I was before it all started. I was supposed to be Speaker No. 8 so when I reached the venue I was taking a stroll and absorbing the surroundings. Suddenly I am told, "Vivek you go first". I was like "excuse me". So I rushed up to the guy with the laptop, ran through all the 20 slides to see they were the same I had emailed to these guys.

While I waited for my turn the introductions were on. About Ignite, about this and about that. I had butterflies in my stomach. I guess that's natural because speaking to a large gathering does make you a bit nervous. The only solution to this is 'experience'; latch on to every opportunity to speak and master the art.

However there is something I did which reduced my tension and I must share that with you. I had rehearsed well and so I was not worried about 'forgetting content' on stage. All I was worried about was a good start. If I could start well, I will find my rhythm. So what did I do?

I rehearsed the first few sentences again and again (while I sat and waited to be called upon). That really helped. I also did some deep breathing (keeping eyes closed) and told myself that all these people here have come to listen to me. I am the presentation blogger and I have something useful to share. I motivated myself. I have learnt this from my father. I remember when I was going for my MBA interviews for IIM. Seeing me very tense my father came to me and said, "Vivek all these interviewers have come all the way to talk to you. You are special. Why should you be worried? Just go and talk to them and come back home."

I guess all these did the trick. When I started I could find my rhythm and get going immediately. I did not forget anything I had to say. I had not crammed up the content but really had some anchor points for every slide. Since I remembered the anchors, I could frame my sentences as planned.

If you get a chance to speak at Ignite, do so. If there is an Ignite happening in your city make it a point to attend it always. It's a strong recommendation from my side.

Jun 21, 2011

TEDx HiTechCity Presentation by Mr. Raj Shekar

I would like to share this small presentation given by Mr. Raj Shekar of Hobby Hub. He delivered it in TEDx HiTechCity last year (I could only locate it today :-)

I had worked with Raj to shape up this presentation. My role was of a soundboard to him. He is very passionate about the subject of environment and he had a lot to share. I worked with him to ensure the vital stuff was communicated in the time allotted. I also worked with him on improving his slides.

Raj is the founder of Hobby Hub; an extremely interesting initiative. It allows you to nurture various hobbies (including buying a plant or a pet) and in turn protect the environment. One of his initiatives includes encouraging corporates to 'gift a plant' to their employees on festivals and new year. Check out his presentation (Heart of Living) below and do check his website out.

Jun 17, 2011

4 Game-changers for Presentations

Here is a presentation on the topic of making presentations. It's 114 slides, but with less content on every slide, you can breeze through the whole thing in 5 minutes. Do have a look.

This presentation is by Rowan Manahan who blogs at Presenting is Simple. The crux of his presentation is:

1. We must rehearse for our presentations. Spend 100 hours rehearsing a 1 hour presentation. (My point of view: 100 sounds too much. Even if we spent 20 hours, that'll make us far better that what we today are).

2. We must appeal to emotions. Just appealing to reason (logic) is not enough. In order to do that we must tell a story.

3. We must master the technology so that we can become better at making presentations.

4. We must take charge of the room. It's your moment and don't let anything get in the way. Be thoroughly planned for the D-day.

Jun 14, 2011

The 50-30-20 Principle

We all have our own 'way' of preparing for a presentation. Some people are extremely good at their stuff (content) but do not make great slides. Others make awesome slides (design) but don't know what they are really saying. Then there are others who are miserable on stage (delivery) but we (the audience) knows that they are good at what they do.

"Every presentation is unique and every presentation is similar."

Every presentation is unique in its own way. The topic, the style, the seriousness, the stakes can all vary. Yet every presentation is the same. We have a message, we need to design slides to convey that message and we finally go on the stage and deliver the message. The three elements common to all presentations are: Content, Design & Delivery.

Our presentation performance depends on how well we do all three of these. One cannot be done at the cost of the other. We need to have solid content, we need to design good slides and we have to deliver it in a persuasive manner.

One step to mastering all the above is to devote reasonable time to all the three areas. Generally most of us are good with our content. We know what we have to say. Many of us are average at making slides and most of us are not so good at standing and delivering the presentation. We have butterflies in our stomach. Human nature is that we do what is easy and delay what we dislike. So most of us never rehearse for our presentations, because we don't like doing it.

One way we can ensure we focus on Content, Design and Delivery is to follow 'The 50-30-20 Principle'.

The 50-30-20 Principle

This principle states that we spend atleast 50% of our preparation time on content. On deciding what we should say and what we should not. Another 30% should be spend designing the slides. This step needs to be followed 'after' the content is ready. Then comes the balance 20% of time which must be spent rehearsing your talk.

50% - Content
30% - Slides
20% - Delivery

This principle is just a guideline and you can tweak around it. Following this principle ensures you spend reasonable amount of time on all the three elements of a presentation.

Assume you have 10 hours to prepare for a presentation. Normally you will spend all the time making the slides and fine tuning your content till the last minute. I remember talking to the organisers of Ignite and finding out that many presenters sent their slides just at the last minute. If you spend all the time making slides then when will you rehearse the presentation? Imagine knowing everything and having great slides but making a mess while delivering the same. What a loser!

Spend time preparing like this:

First work on your content. Write down (on a paper or whiteboard) what all can you say. They cut down and zero-in on what exactly you will be saying. Time is limited and you cannot say everything. Now you arrange the content in logical order and decide what to say on which slide (you can do this using post-it notes). You are still to open MS PowerPoint.

Once the entire picture is clear, should you open the software and make the slides. The time it will take to make slides will come down because you already know what goes on each slide.

Having completed your deck of slides, you should now rehearse the presentation. Stand up and start talking. You can time yourself. Get a colleague of yours who can critique you and help you improve.

Spend time wisely when preparing for your presentations. This will be an important step in making you awesome at presentations.

Image: Keattikorn

Jun 10, 2011

Book Review: 'The Back of the Napkin' by Dan Roam

The Back of the Napkin is a book about 'solving problems and selling ideas with pictures'. It is an extremely interesting book.

The essence of the book is: "We can use simple pictures to help us solve any problem or to communicate any idea effectively."

Overall, this book is about visual thinking. How to think about an idea visually so that we see it more clearly and hence discover new solutions. The entire premise is that when we look at an idea or a problem 'visually' we 'see' it better.

This book is for everyone. Managers will find this book especially helpful because they need to constantly 'solve' problems and 'present' their ideas to management.

People who think they can't draw please note
We will not be making any complicated images, so you don't need to be good at making pictures in order to implement the techniques taught in this book. We will just draw simple images. The images we will draw will have circles, square & rectangular boxes, arrows, etc.

How to think visually? [Look - See - Imagine - Show

The process of visual thinking shared in the book is Look-See-Imagine-Show. Looking is the process of collecting all visual inputs (everything that's around you) about the problem at hand. Seeing is to focus on what's important (relevant). Imagine is to see what's not there (discover something new). To show is to finally present it to others so that they can see what you see clearly.

Example: You are making a presentation. When you look, you collect everything that you can talk about. Everything. When you see, you focus on what's relevant and important. Then you figure out what is the best way to convey our message (imagine). Finally you draw the pictures and show to your audience.

How to look at a problem from all angles?
Dan Roam uses the 6W's framework to help us look at any problem from various angles. When we want to look at an issue at hand we should ask the following:

1. What / Who?
2. How much? / How many?
3. When?
4. Where?
5. How?
6. Why?

Asking these questions will help us 'see' the problem better.

Once we have done that, we come across another framework which will help us dig deep into the problem. The framework is called SQVID. I would not like to delve into it here. It is better if you read the book.

The beauty of the book lies in making you realise the power of pictures. The book is a quick read and written in simple English but the concepts will take time to sink in. At first even I got confused as to how do I apply the frameworks taught by Dan to every problem at hand. I have made some progress, but I have to agree that it takes time. I am still trying to apply what I have read.

How to use the book?
Read the book and understand the process of visual thinking. Use it as a guide book. Refer to it when faced with a problem. You will find a new power in your hands if you try to use a picture to solve every problem or share every message.

Sounds interesting? Check out the following:

Watch Dan Roam talk about the book (recommended)

Visit Dan Roam's website

See a presentation which applies back of napkin framework to explain an issue.

Buy the book (flipkart, Amazon)

Jun 5, 2011

My Presentation Story [Reader Entries Invited]

I am back from the three month break; March to May. Back with fresh ideas and lots to share.

To start with, before I share my story how about you sharing your stories with all of us? So here we go...

My Presentation Story

Share your presentation story with us. You can choose to talk about a presentation you made and how it did well (or flopped) and why?
You stories need to have two things: 1. What happened? (what went right and what went wrong?) 2. What you learned out of it? Take one presentation you made in the last year or so and share it with us.

You can also talk about how you go about preparing and delivering your presentation OR you can also talk about why you love or hate making presentations.

Send in your entries by email to vivek [at] allaboutpresentations [dot] com.

What happens next?

I will be sharing your story with all of us here (provided you allow me). I would also like to add my views on your story. Plus for all readers residing in India*, first two stories will get a free copy of the book 'Everyone Communicates Few Connect'. Two copies of the book are lying with me and it is better to share it with you all.
[*Due to logistical reason, I will not be able to give the book to readers living outside India.]

If I had to share a story, I will talk about my last presentation at Ignite Hyderabad and how I had butterflies in my stomach before I went on stage. How I managed the tension and came out alive :-)

So what are you waiting for, think about the last time you presented, pen it down in a few sentences and shoot it across.

Image: Master Isolated Images