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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
  PowerPoint Deaths Climb in 2009: But at Slower Rate

Every year, I Google the phrase "Death by PowerPoint" (without quotes).

Exactly one year ago today, this "Death by PowerPoint" inquiry yielded 366,000 search results - over 4 times as many results as 2007.

Today, if you Google "Death by PowerPoint", you'll see 980,000 results -- only about 2.7 times as much as 2008. The year-to-year death rate appears to be dropping.

The PowerPoint death rate keeps climbing -- but at a much slower pace than 2007-2008.

Why do you reckon the rate of death mentions is slowing? With more people participating in social media channels, the opportunity to mention this oft-parroted phrase is increasing. Could it be that the phrase itself is becoming passe?

Yet why are overall mentions still increasing? Almost a million search returns - goodness! What will 2010 yield? And what will finally put an end to the carnage? :)

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009
  Three Transparently Phony Ways to Appear Less Confident

Confidence. Somehow, this word became virtuous in the 1980's. It remained a positive trait -- until fairly recently.

Confidence men, we called them in the 1930's and 40's. Over time, we shortened this to "Con Men" or "Cons". Overly charming, smooth. Hucksters. Yech.

Cons transmit that they are absolutely positive in their correctness. Who trusts the overly confident?

Bernie Madoff and his ilk have made us collectively uneasy about confidence again.

Striped bachelor
Creative Commons License photo credit: Matti Mattila

How to appear less confident

If you're an overly confident speaker, you might have a big problem connecting with a modern, tech-savvy audience. (Especially here in the American Midwest!) In an era of quickly produced, less-than-polished user generated content -- your confidence might seem inappropriately over-the-top.

Here are 3 quick and completely insincere ways to tone down any over-confidence you may have as a speaker or presenter.
  1. Toss in filler words. A few, "ums and ahhs" and nervous shuffling can go a long way to instill the idea that you're thinking about what you're saying. You're not glibly reciting a speech. You're not absolutely convinced that you are unequivocally correct. You're open to starting conversations and creating a dialog. Your social awkwardness in public speaking indicates that you're thinking. That you're concerned. That you care enough to be nervous. Audiences warm to this kind of humility.

  2. Ugly up your PowerPoint slides. Nothing says, "I'm overly image conscious" like professionally designed PowerPoint presentations. When it looks like a presenter spent 80 hours in meetings with a team of designers, writers, and speech coaches to deliver a one-hour presentation -- that's the take-away. That's what the audience will talk about behind the speaker's back. The message won't stick when all people talk about is how pretty the slides were and how Hollywood the storytelling was.

  3. Dress out-of-sync. I watched a multi-millionaire give a presentation to 200+ business people. The audience? In modern business attire. The presenter? In a sad, schlumpfly suit from the 1980's. The audience LOVED him. Think they merely tolerated his eccentric garb because he was rich? Guess again. I also watched a junior software engineer wearing an unpressed polo shirt and lumpy khakis present to a board wearing business suits. They ADORED his presentation, too.
If you're an awkward or eccentric speaker, rejoice. This is your time! Embrace your humility! Hug your weirdness!

And if you're a con artist, your audience will likely see through your naked attempts to "Aw, shucks it up" for them. After all, this is the age of authenticity and transparency -- two achingly glorious buzzwords that shine a bright, unflattering spotlight on slick over-confidence and transparently phony faux-humility mannerisms.

Social awkwardness is in!

Nerds, enjoy it while it lasts...

What will the next wave of popularity be?

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Monday, June 29, 2009
  The Creepiest PowerPoint Design Trend of 2009

architecture.
revolutionary.
relationships.
re-contextualize.

Those were four words on four slides in a 15 minute PowerPoint presentation I witnessed last month. The remaining 700 slides in the presentation each had one word on them, as well.

OK, I'm exaggerating. There couldn't have been 700 slides in that presentation.

But it seemed like it.


In the presentation I saw, random buzzwords that the speaker used in his narrative kept fading in-an-out of the PowerPoint slides projected behind him. Oh-so-slowly.

After a few minutes, I blinked, shook my head, and looked away. I was getting too mesmerized by the slow word parade.

I was looking for meaning in those words. I was looking for context. There wasn't any.

After looking off to the right for a few moments, I focused on merely listening to the speaker while I stared at a blank wall. The presenter was telling a story about a problem his customers had, and how his product helped solve it.

It wasn't a half-bad story, so I turned to look at the speaker.

Then, I saw it.


synergy?

I grimaced. I had to look away again.

Since this presentation, I've seen a few other slow-word-parade style presentations. I suspect presenters create this style as something of a mood board to set the tone for the presentation. It can be easier and cheaper to toss word salad at people than to craft a story and work on polishing the delivery.

Personally, I find this word-mood board style of presentation design distracting and disturbing. It was hard for me to focus on connecting with the speaker or his story. I found myself thinking that he would have been much more effective with absolutely nothing in the background.

I've seen this technique a number of times this year. Let's hope this a trend that will, uh -- fade quickly!

What are better ways to set the mood for your presentation?

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Thursday, January 15, 2009
  How to Take PowerPoint Personally

The Passion of the PowerPoint. I'm stunned by the passion that PowerPoint (yes, humble PowerPoint!) can arouse! My previous Propaganda, PowerPoint and You inspired Olivia Mitchell to launch a group blogging project. She asked other bloggers to write about what they'd like to see in PowerPoint design in 2009.

To date, Olivia has received
over 40 passionate responses from bloggers all over the world! Most are amazing, well-reasoned, and thoughtful. Some are funny, witty, silly. But almost all are passionate!

Awards (004)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Arbron

Had to grin at Seth Godin's response about my "Propaganda" post. He wrote:

“Simple: she’s wrong. As the first person to speak up and out about single ideas/images and death to bullets, I take this one personally. Resist temptation. Do not backslide!”

This response reminds me of a line from the 1968 Television Mockumentary, How to Irritate People. In this pre-Monty Python sketch comedy assortment, John Cleese says (something like),

"If you go to a party and announce, 'The trouble with women is that they take everything personally!', about 4 women will jump up and say, 'Well, I don't!'"

How to take things personally. You can take things personally if someone:

  • actually names you.
  • refers to you as a pronoun.
  • judges you morally!

I didn't mention Mr. Godin in my post, so why would he take it personally? Godin is hardly the first person to recognize that propaganda techniques can be effective at persuading! As for my being "wrong" -- about what? Noticing that people seem as irritated with propaganda-heavy presentations as they are with deeply analytical presentations? Posing a few benign "what do you think" and "how about" questions in a blog post?

That brand of "wrong" was pervasive in Amerika for the past 8 years. Hopefully, it's on the way out.

something stinks
Creative Commons License photo credit: istopcrappics

I'll repeat: many people seem bored. In 2008, I was often an audience member where presentation content and design relied almost exclusively on propaganda techniques. It was merely tedious in sales and marketing presentations, but wildly inappropriate for technical training and scientific demonstrations.

The backlash against this approach is palpable. As an audience member, I feel it. I also witness others fidgeting uncomfortably. I hear whispers. I see people shout stuff like -- "Where's the beef? Hasty Generalization! Dicto Simplicter! Ad Nauseum!" and the like -- when they're watching a webinar littered with information-light, carefully-crafted, simple-image PowerPoint slides.

Or irritated. And yes, I read the snarky Tweets in the back channels. And hear the gossip in the hallways and break rooms at conferences. (You can, too.)

I've witnessed the backlash first hand in 2008. A lot more than I have room for in one blog post!

So I noted the backlash. And I asked questions about it. I wondered if another approach would rise up and become popular in 2009. I suggested that a "middle road" might occur with a swing of the pendulum.

In my world, it's not wrong to note trends or ask questions!

That's so 2001. In 2009, you can listen to your audience talk back on social media channels. You can also choose to engage or ignore the rise of an increasingly media-savvy audience. Hopefully, a more dynamic public will start recognizing heavy-handed propaganda techniques -- and start talking about them. People are already pushing back on Twitter, on blogs, at Bar Camps -- how long will it take for the backlash to happen in person at industry conferences, classrooms, and corporate meetings?

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Friday, January 09, 2009
  Social Media Inspired PowerPoint Design for 2009

"What would you like to see in PowerPoint design in 2009?"

That's what Olivia Mitchell, who writes the fantastic Speaking About Presenting blog, asked me last month. Now, Olivia didn't ask just me: she also acted as community organizer, posing the question to a plethora of presentation bloggers. She asked us to write one post on this topic.

Many have already posted replies at their blogs. (Olivia promises to organize these posts at her blog later this month, for your finding & reading enjoyment. When you visit her blog, subscribe, and you'll be alerted! Lots of great ideas!)

My PowerPoint design wishes for 2009?
  • The look and feel of social media techniques will transition into PowerPoint design.
  • Presentations will be designed with audience participation -- and push back -- in mind.
Yeah, I want design that stimulates thoughtful discussion. I prefer design that inspires action and meaningful audience participation. So what might this kind of PowerPoint design look like?

Twittery Design. I'm a big fan of Twitter. And many of my blogging colleagues are on Twitter, as well. Read this amazing Tweet from design virtuoso Tony Ramos:


Short, Simple, Tweet. The brevity of Twitter can make you a better designer. A better headline writer. A better presenter. Using and studying Twitter can be a powerful exercise in how to get your point across swiftly and succinctly. Twitter is enjoying phenomenal growth. The more people use Twitter, the more your audience will come to expect powerful brevity in all communication media. Start using this "short and sweet" writing technique in your 2009 PowerPoint design. (You can follow me at Twitter: I'll be honored!)

Meet Your Audience. Yes, you can often use various social media outlets -- Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, your own blog, YouTube, et. al. -- to meet your audience pre-presentation, to get a better feel for who they are and what some of their questions and concerns may be about your topic. Such a wonderful technique, to get to know a few audience members before you give a talk -- to tailor your speech, to use their names, to personalize the presentation!

More Heckling! Over five years ago, the engaging Joi Ito wrote of the heckle bot. Brilliant! While you're speaking, your audience can give you feedback on your performance. Today, the Twitter back channel is the new heckle bot, giving a speaker instant performance feedback. Of course, it's awfully hard to read Tweets while you're performing -- but you can review your back channel comments afterwards to continually improve your performance and design.

Grassroots, D-I-Y Design. I'm quite encouraged that people are using social media channels to talk back. I'm thrilled to see people challenge corporate, political, and thought leaders on these online, public platforms. So naturally, I'm pleased to see that, like social media, PowerPoint design still takes a (mostly) grassroots, bootstrapping, D-I-Y approach to design. They may not always be pretty, polished, or professional -- but I've seen many presenters persuade with their passion.

Less Propaganda. I use propaganda techniques in presentations. It can be effective for persuading. But persuading isn't the only purpose in giving a presentation. Sometimes, you'll want to spark an honest, intelligent, and interactive discussion. As a presenter, there are times when you'll want to learn from your audience. Social media can be an effective channel for encouraging lively dialog -- and so can a PowerPoint presentation that isn't overly focused on manipulating the audience into taking your side.

Willingness to be wrong or unpopular is a virtue. After all, how many of us are tired of the "If you're not with me, you're against me!" bandwagon approach? And how many people have been a little too frightened to do nothing but fawn and spray positive comments over popular presenters, speakers, bloggers, and leaders -- to disastrous global effect?

We need fewer "You're wrong / I'm right / Think my way / Because I'm popular, rich, and powerful" approaches. We need more intelligent dissenters.

PowerPoint to the People. Right On. OK. One more old-fashioned, light-hearted wish: if you're a PowerPoint Do-It-Yourselfer without a power base or budget, how will you ever get your message noticed if you look and sound exactly like everyone else? How appropriate is it for you to be overly stylized and design-conscious? Why not spurn design fashion altogether... and create your own passionate and persuasive storytelling style? Or why not steal the techniques of timeless publicity and propaganda hounds?

And as always, you're welcome to disagree with me or continue the discussion in the comments below!

What would YOU like to see in PowerPoint design in 2009?

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
  PowerPoint, Propaganda, and You

This is Your Brain on PowerPoint. Our brains have 2 lobes. Loosely speaking, the left handles data, facts, and analysis. The right handles emotions, art, and intuition.

When it comes to experiencing a PowerPoint presentation, there's only so much your brain can process. You can either listen to a presenter speak, or you can try to read what you seen on the screen. 

If you try to do both at the same time, you absorb less. And you become irritated with the presenter. 

That's why we’re experiencing something of a fashion backlash against overly complicated, bullet-laden slides. They aren't effective. And they annoy people. 

Your Brain on PowerPoint

The 2008 vogue. We're seeing more PowerPoint slides with simple images and minimal words. In a way, these slides remind you of a child's book. 

Simple graphics. Big words. Few words.

Refreshing, yes?

Sure. But there's a problem.

You are not a child. Your brain demands more!

Manon - décembre [2]
Creative Commons License photo credit: Spigoo


The 2009 backlash. Let the backlash against the backlash begin! The current PowerPoint design fashion vogue is overly simplistic, and panders almost completely to the right side of the brain. Since one of our chief presentation objectives is to persuade, why is this a problem?

Using only right brain techniques to persuade is emotionally manipulative. Oh, it's highly effective, all right, but it's propaganda, nonetheless! Appealing only to the right side of the brain is less than truthful -- it lies by omission of key facts. 

Audiences are getting more savvy.  We're getting more suspicious. We're asking harder questions. We're tired of lying, half-truths, and crass emotional manipulation by corporate leaders, politicians, and news media outlets.

Those of us who are sentient realize that the simple and compelling imagery we see in corporate PowerPoint presentations, on TV ads, and elsewhere in the media aren't rational. Many people are beginning to resent the oversimplification. Tired of being treated like children, we're lashing back against these heavy handed attempts at brainwashing. 

"Propaganda Bingo" is long overdue. It's time we started screaming out "Glittering Generality" or "False dilemma" and so forth when our leaders start blatantly using propaganda techniques in meetings, PowerPoint presentations, and press conferences. After all, we played Buzzword Bingo in the 1990's: why not upgrade to "Propaganda Bingo" in 2009?

The PowerPoint Propaganda Backlash is just one important reason to mix it up a little in your next PowerPoint presentation. Compelling imagery can help you make an emotional and persuasive case: but intelligent people will also require data and analysis for their decision making process. You’ll want to use persuade with right-brain techniques -- and also give the left brain something deeper to analyze. 

Social media has also made "talking back" popular. People are becoming accustomed to criticizing presentation techniques and content on Twitter backchannels. They're creating and commenting on blogs, and voting on Digg or StumbleUpon. Today's audience isn't quietly and politely absorbing canned corporate and political propaganda: they're getting accustomed to talking back and creating their own content.

PowerPoint Pie Audience
You can feel, see, and hear the pendulum swinging all around you!
How about making 2009 the year of the middle way between these two approaches?

Or do you believe that audiences will be content to consume PowerPoint propaganda techniques for a while longer? How fast will the pendulum swing? Is 2009 the year of increased PowerPoint Propaganda Awareness?

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Monday, December 15, 2008
  Death by PowerPoint Watch: 2008

Death by PowerPoint 2008
For three years straight, I have been Googling and tracking the term "Death by PowerPoint". I want to see how many pages the big G will deliver for this tired cliche.

In 2006, Google delivered 55,000 pages that mentioned this oft-used phrase. In 2007, we saw "Death by PowerPoint" pages increase by almost 50% to 82,400.

In 2008, we see the biggest increase: from 82,400 to 366,000. This is over 4 times as many mentions!

Clearly, "Death by PowerPoint" (searched without quotes) is on the increase. In spite of a new and improved version of PowerPoint (2007) and the popularity of countless books and blogs on the topic of presentation design and delivery -- PowerPoint casualties continue to climb throughout 2008.

What will bring an end to the carnage? And what kind of numbers do you predict for 2009?

:)

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
  Designing Presentations in the Cloud

Yes, you can design a PowerPoint presentation without using PowerPoint. And you don't need Keynote or OpenOffice, either. With speedy internet access, you can design a presentation "in the cloud".

What are Presentation Design Cloud Apps? Think Google Docs Presentations. Or 280slides. Or SlideRocket. When you access any of these three (currently free) online apps, you can design a presentation "in the cloud". (That's what the kids are calling it these days!) Loosely speaking, designing in "the cloud" means you can produce your presentation content online, without downloading any presentation software to your computer.

Designing Cloud Presentations
Enjoying the Cloud Slideware Experience. Earlier this week, I tried each of the three cloud slideware applications I mentioned above -- Google Docs, 280slides, and SlideRocket. Before I discuss their differences, let me comment on four similarities and user advantages you get with cloud slideware:

1) They're all feature light. At this stage, cloud presentation design apps are light on features. Well, much lighter than the gazillions of options PowerPoint and Keynote and Open Office pack into their software, anyway! But why do I tout less features as "an advantage"? Face it: we've all noted an alarming tendency of PowerPoint producers to over-use many features. Feature abuse often detracts from the story line. By streamlining features, the tendency to overwhelm with special effects is mercifully reduced. Further, less features mean that learning how to use cloud applications is usually a breeze. Basically, if you know how to use PowerPoint -- you already know how to useSlideRocket, 280Slides, or the Google Docs Presentation application. Seriously: expect a learning curve of about a minute or three.

2) Cloud presentation apps allow collaboration and sharing. With a few clicks, 280slides lets you post your presentation to SlideShare, the popular presentation sharing site. The "Share" button at Google Docs Presentation lets you invite collaborators to edit your presentation, or viewers to experience your results. SlideRocket lets you publish your presentation publicly -- or to invite select people to view it. SlideRocket also integrates statistics, so you know how many people have experienced your content. Google Docs lets you see who has been editing your presentation -- and when. For those of us who build content in teams located all over the globe, the ability to share, collaborate, and review revisions provides a phenomenal project management advantage.

3) Cloud apps play nicely with many other popular online content venues. Want to insert a YouTube video into PowerPoint? You've got quite a few gyrations to make that happen! But with two of the presentation design cloudware options, it's a coupla clicks, tops. Want to use a FlickR image into your presentation? Each of the cloudware apps I used let you search and add unique FlickR images with the same ease you'd have inserting a stale piece of clipart to a PowerPoint presentation. Easy access to fresh videos and pictures can make your presentation more visually unique and compelling than sticking to the over-used, cliched, packaged stock images and clip art built into standard software.

4) They all cater to the offline popularity of PowerPoint. Each cloudware service lets you download and save your presentation as a PowerPoint file. And each service also lets you upload a presentation that you originally created in PowerPoint. Many folks need the security blanket of backing up a presentation on a hard drive -- and in a familiar format. With cloudware, you don't really have to leave your PowerPoint comfort zone. You have the option to "go old school" with PowerPoint -- but you also get enhanced sharing and easier access to online content.

So, what about the differences in each cloudware program?
When I used each of these programs to create a presentation from scratch, I noted a few feature differences in each application.

SlideRocket
280 Slides
Google Docs Presentations
5 background options
9 background options
15 background options
6 Flash backgrounds
no Flash backgrounds
no Flash backgrounds
9 slide transition options
0 transition options
0 transition options
FlickR integration
FlickR +Google Images integration
No FlickR integration
Opaque image slider
Opaque image slider
No opaque image option
20 font styles
30 font styles
6 font styles
No YouTube Integration
Easy YouTube integration
Easy YouTube integration
Image manipulation: 9 build options & 9 effect options. Resizing, but no rotating images.
Image manipulation: resizing and rotating. No builds, no effects.
Image Manipulation: Resizing only.

The above chart is not a comprehensive comparison of features. And I fully expect that feature sets at each service will change and grow. By the time I hit the "publish" button on this blog post, who knows? Another feature can be added at any time. That's what happens in the cloud -- new features can be added and changed more rapidly than they can in the boxed software world.

How are you using cloud presentation applications in your work or school? And how likely are you to design and present "in the cloud" over the next year?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008
  Now Entering the Post-Template PowerPoint Design Era...

If you are still using PowerPoint templates as a presentation design aid, it's time to stop. Why?

Stop Using PowerPoint Templates!Because we've officially entered the Post-Template PowerPoint Design Era.

Why the Post-Template PowerPoint Design Era? With so many options available for great images, you don't need to rely on a PowerPoint template anymore. As fellow presentation blogger Ellen Finkelstein puts it in her excellent post at Slideshare, "White is definitely the new blue in presentation backgrounds..."

Why did PowerPoint background fashion change? Back in the early 1990's, very few people had easy access to compelling digital photography to insert in their PowerPoint presentations. Today, just about everybody who gives presentations has a digital camera. Use it to capture unique and fresh images for your next PowerPoint presentation. Don't have the talent for taking a great photo? You might be surprised at just how good you are! Don't be intimidated -- if you have a digital camera, at least give it a shot! At the very least, it's sure to be an original.

Can't get the shot you want? Again, you have access to a plethora of great photography online -- something you probably didn't have 10 years ago. Consider Flickr, the social photo sharing site. Many photos are available for use in your presentations through the Creative Commons attribution. If you can't find a unique photo at Flickr, try Morguefile or StockExchange. Both of these sites offer totally free photos. Just be sure to check the licensing requirements on each image before you use it in your next presentation.

Pay a little. If you still can't find the photograph you want, you may have to pay for a stock image -- but just a little. I like iStockphoto -- the prices are usually a buck or three -- and the selection is decent and updates regularly. But be careful! With stock photography, you run the risk of picking a photo that many people have seen before -- so it's not unique. Many times, you risk boring your audience with stock photography. Fortunately, iStockphoto shows you which photos are the most frequently downloaded, so you can avoid photos that everyone has already seen. With a little diligence, you can find something newer, fresher, and hipper.

The days of slapping clip art on a blue background are definitely over. That's just so 1990's! And when the audience has seen a background or image before -- the presenter becomes part of a landscape of visual cliches. The eyes of the audience glaze over. The presentation seem hackneyed. The presenter seems trite. The message gets hazy. Lost.

Use unique imagery. Use your creativity. Your audience with appreciate your effort!

PS -- Need help learning to manipulate photos and other graphics? Ellen Finkelstein also writes to remind me that her ebook, 7 Steps to Great Images, is on sale at her site. The book is easy-to-read, and filled with practical instructions for manipulating images in PowerPoint. Perfect for the Post-Template PowerPoint design era! You can also sign up for Ellen's free tips newsletter. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
  How to Break it to Your Boss: "You Need a Makeover!"

PowerPoint MakeoverHow do you tell your boss or colleagues that they need a makeover?

I'm not talking about their clothes, hair, or makeup. Instead, I'm talking about their PowerPoint presentations!

Just in time for the holidays, PowerPoint MVPs Geetesh Bajaj and Echo Swinford provide a fun new way to transform dated PowerPoint designs. Last week, the two authors released an exciting, full-color book called Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 Complete Makeover Kit. Actually, this action-packed new release is more "kit" than a "book", as it contains a CD chock full of music, pictures, templates, themes, and more. In a free online excerpt, you'll see how to transform a dated, bullet-list presentation into a fashionable, bullet-free look.

Transform your design approach. If your organization professes to be progressive and forward-thinking, your PowerPoint design needs to reflect these qualities. A dated, out-of-touch design simply won't do. Your company needs to stay current and investigate fresh approaches to crafting presentations. If your organization has upgraded to PowerPoint 2007, make sure your presentation design approach keeps pace with a 2008 look and feel.

A new look for the new year. The holidays present a terrific opportunity to upgrade your corporate image without wounding egos. After all, it's downright diplomatic and thoughtful to buy a fun holiday gift -- instead of burning with embarrassment over yet another design disaster.

Go check out the new PowerPoint 2007 Makeover Kit -- it can make a terrific, timely, and tasteful business gift.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007
  Kitsch and Camp: The PowerPoint Twins

PowerPoint KitschWhat's Kitsch? Kitsch is a black velvet painting. Garden gnomes, lava lamps, troll dolls, flamingo lawn ornaments, dogs playing poker -- all are classic kitsch. Often of poor quality, kitsch is an object that appeals to lowbrow, popular, or tacky tastes.

What's Camp? Camp is the presentation of kitsch. Jon Waters, Cyndi Lauper, and Kiss are deliberately campy. Tom Cruise, Judy Garland, and Betty Davis are (probably) unintentionally campy. A campy presentation is so outrageously dramatic, inappropriate, gaudy, affected, or out-of-date it's ironic and funny.

What's contemporary kitsch & camp? When you watch VH1 "I Love the [insert decade here]" - you are watching a top 100 kitsch & camp report. In 3 years, what will be considered kitsch and camp for the '00 decade?

Will PowerPoint presentations make the kitschy cut? After all, there's a certain black velvet quality to many PowerPoint presentations...

...as well as to most Keynote presentations.

Oh, let's face it. Everything Apple is deliciously kitschy-campy. The Apple "Zen Aesthetic" is contemporary kitsch. By combining this spare design style with:Steve Jobs Cliched Buddha Pose
  • the Jobs priestly-black dress code
  • the gratuitous and cliched body language of Buddha-pose-faux-humility,
  • PlaySkool-ish, Web 2.0-y graphics,
  • the promotion of i-Everything,
  • dancing iPod silhouettes --
-- Apple is a contemporary kitsch+camp juggernaut!

Kitsch and camp are iconic, ironic fun. When you're deliberately kitschy or campy, you can come across as witty and self-deprecating. However, if you're unintentionally Tom Cruise-y or Apple-campy, you risk appearing self-important or buffoonish.

Try jumping on a couch these days without appearing ironic.

Commit to your camp. If you have a kitschy style, make sure you affect a campy mannerism. This can help you more fully engage your audience. There's no sense having a clipart-y, cluttered, bullet point-y, totally 1990's Microsoft-kitsch PowerPoint presentation if you don't drive it home by, say, swaggering like Johnny Depp in Pirate of the Caribbean. Cringing like the evil Mr. Burns from the Simpsons while presenting with a very 90's slide design is also an excellent kitsch-camp combo.

If you're going to be design-kitschy, you'll want to commit to being presentation-campy.

What's on your kitsch list? What is contemporary kitsch that is currently not commonly recognized as such? What contemporary '00 kitsch & camp will become classic kitsch and camp in the '10 decade?

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Monday, July 09, 2007
  Picking PowerPoint Palettes: Have Fun with 3 Great Color Sites

What color is your PowerPoint presentation? Naturally, you can choose any background, font, and accent colors you wish for your slides. Your color choices are important because they help communicate the emotional content of your presentation.

Have fun with color. Here are three exceptional sites that offer inspirational ideas and useful free tools that can help inspire you as you pick your palette for your next presentation.

color palette screenshot from colour lovers1. Colour Lovers Blog. Not only will you will gain knowledge by reviewing color trends -- you will feel more motivated about by viewing, creating, and sharing inspirational palettes. For example, this recent post shows how great artists inspire with color choices. Fabulous!

2. Color Schemer. Color Schemer lets you explore a wild variety of fresh, free color schemes. Bonus: you can download ColorPix, a nifty and free little app that "grabs the pixel under your mouse and transforms it into a number of different color formats." Cool.

3. Color Blender. You can quickly create a 6-color matching palette by using this free online tool. Further, you can easily send your blend to a friend ... or download your newly created blend as either an .act or .eps file. Excellent!

Now, will you use these three sites for PowerPoint presentations...or for choosing colors when you paint your living room? ;)

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