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? :)
Labels: design, fun, PowerPoint Presentation
The Days of Talking Heads Are Nearly Over
I ♥ David Byrne.
I even ♥ David Byrne's "I ♥ PowerPoint
Really, I do.
But the days of the Talking Heads are over.
I'm not talking about the band. I'm talking TV. And presenters. And presentations.
We have social media to thank.
Interactive presentations are in.
Authoritative anchors reading dispassionately from teleprompters are out.
Teachers and professors lecturing from on high? Also on the way out.
Note your TV news shows asking, "What do you think? Talk back. Send us your video. Talk to us at Twitter. Comment on our blog...."Walter Cronkite
, bless his trusted soul, didn't ply his trade in an era of interactivity. He was a talking head, appropriate for the decades he served. A deep authoritative voice coupled with a kind-looking face served him well in his time.
Today, Jon Stewart is the most trusted man in TV news
. Well, not really. People just voted him as the most trusted newscaster.
In an online poll.
By Time Magazine.
See what I mean? Online polls. Talking back. Old-school journalism meets citizen journalism. Opinions. Interactivity. It's all the rage.Burning down the house.
Last week, Stewart jokingly called his second-place poll rival (TV news anchor Brian Williams) a "teleprompter monkey."
Does that make the new style of news anchor, a "hyper-interactive monkey?"
And how are you using social media to make your presentations more interactive, compelling, and contemporary?
Labels: fun, Presentation, social media
Three Transparently Phony Ways to Appear Less Confident
. 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
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.
How to appear less confident
photo credit: Matti Mattila
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Labels: design, fun, PowerPoint Presentation, social media
Top 6 Fallacies About PowerPoint Presentations
Use emotion to connect to your audience. It's important.
Got it! Let's check that bullet point off the list!Now let's make some sense.
Beyond connecting emotionally, presenters also need to make sense. When presenters pander almost exclusively to emotion
, they often woefully neglect the rules of logic. And many presenters grease over logic with a slick style. Their audiences seem seduced by the glamorous design of the presentation -- or the pleasing, popular personality of the presenter.
It can be a fun exercise to call a "Time Out for Logical Fallacies!" Using social media tools like Twitter
, you can play a game of "Logical Fallacy Bingo" as you watch slick presenters play fast and loose with the rules of logic.
Here's how to play:
Just for grins, let's cover some examples of logical fallacies that we often hear about PowerPoint -- the tool many love to hate. For your Tweeting back channel
pleasure, I've also taken the liberty of inventing "Twitter Fallacy Hashtags" you can use when you're listening to a speech, press conference, or presentation. You can either call out the fallacy as the speaker uses them -- or simply Tweet the hashtag with the correct fallacy technique.
The six fallacies I'll cover in this post are:
- False Analogy (#Fanal)
- Post Hoc (#PostHoc)
- Contradictory Premises (#ConPrem)
- Ad Misericordiam (#AdMis)
- Hasty Generalization (#HastyG)
- Poisoning The Well (#PTWell)
1. False Analogy
False Analogy Example: "Construction workers use blueprints to guide them as they build. Doctors use X-rays and MRI images as diagnostic aids. Therefore, presenters should use PowerPoint slides as teleprompters during live-audience presentations. "
This argument, of course, is the fallacy of "False Analogy". Why? Blueprints and MRIs are created as visual aids for the construction worker and doctor. A presenter's visual aids are intended for the audience. The comparison, therefore, is invalid.
When a presenter tries to directly connect different situations and goals, they are making a False Analogy. Call them on it, or Tweet #FAnal
2. Post Hoc
Post Hoc Example: "Let's not use PowerPoint for our next presentation. Every time we use PowerPoint, the audience gets bored."
PowerPoint doesn't cause boredom. Not even close. Audience boredom is often caused by bad design, poor storytelling, a monotonous voice, insufferable presentation skills, lack of audience research, or any number of other factors. Those who blame the software tool for boredom are guilty of the fallacy of Post Hoc.
In fact, anyone who can't show a clear cause and effect is guilty of Post Hoc
and can Tweet #PostHoc. Call them on it.3. Contradictory Premises
Contradictory Premises Example: "The human brain ignores boring presentations. Therefore, a boring presentation was created by a human without a brain."
This sounds good. Heck, it even sounds right! But when the premises of an argument contradict each other, there can be no argument. If there is an irresistible force, there can be no immovable object. People with functioning brains create boring presentations. And they do so consciously, with rabid attention to boring, minute detail.
Call out "Contradictory Premises" or hashtag "#ConPrem" when you hear an example of this kind of logical fallacy in a speech or presentation.
4. Ad Misericordiam
The Question & Answer portion of a presentation is often a big Ad Misericordiam
festival. In Ad Misericordiam
, the presenter doesn't answer the question you ask, and instead appeals to your emotions or sympathy. Ad Misericordiam
is an extremely popular Q & A technique in business and political press conferences.Ad Misericordiam
Example: Suppose during the Question and Answer period of a presentation, you ask a presenter, "You said our brains ignore boring presentations. If that's true, what about all the subconscious and subliminal stuff our brains capture? Don't our brains really absorb almost everything? Isn't it proven that we can recall boring stuff with incredible accuracy under hypnosis or in our dreams? And why do we talk so much about presentations that bore us? Surely our brains notice -- and even categorize our boredom in painstaking detail!"
The presenter answers, "I put a lot of effort into making my presentation simple and easy to understand for the lay person. You're splitting hairs, muddying the waters, and making it hard for regular people to understand important concepts. I don't deserve this kind of specificity or a bitter, ruthless attack on my scientific integrity."
In the above Q&A example, you'll note that the presenter hasn't really answered your question at all. Instead, the presenter tried to rouse audience pity. The presenter also tried to shame, belittle, or humiliate you for asking rather obvious questions. In this way, the presenter committed the fallacy of Ad Misericordiam.
Feel free to shout "Ad Misericordiam
" when the presenter doesn't answer the question you asked and appeals to pity instead. Or Tweet Hashtag it with #AdMis
5. Hasty Generalization
Hasty Generalization Example: "I've seen quite a few boring PowerPoint presentations in my day. So have a lot of other people I know. Therefore, all PowerPoint presentations are boring."
In this case, there are far too few examples to reach a conclusion. You've may have seen plenty of bad PowerPoint presentations. But you've also seen some darn interesting ones! So have other people! When a generalization is realized too quickly -- you can shout out, "Hasty Generalization" or tag "#HastyG"
Remember, demanding specificity is the enemy of wacky generalizations!
6. Poisoning the Well
Poisoning the Well Example: Imagine I'm in a debate. My opponent gets up first and says, "Laura is a known fool. She doesn't have a lick of sense, and you cannot believe a word she is going to say."
Of course this isn't fair. I don't stand a chance if I'm called an idiot before I even begin my presentation. The audience is cheated out of the opportunity of finding that out for themselves! My opponent has "poisoned the well" before the audience had an opportunity to drink from it. When you see people "Poisoning the Well" -- call them on it. #PTWell
There are many more fallacies, of course. The six fallacies above are just a few examples about PowerPoint presentations. Fallacies can also be found running rampant in press conferences, media interviews, and current events.
For example, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich appears to be a walking, talking fallacy factory lately! For example:
- Comparisons to Ghandi? False Analogy.
- Citing roots as a son of poor immigrants at the impeachment trial? Ad Misericordiam.
- Inviting investigators to record you, then later expressing dismay at being recorded while under investigation? Contradictory Premises, anyone?
What fallacies do you hear most often? And what lulus have you been hearing in the news or in presentations lately?
Labels: fallacies, fun, PowerPoint Presentation
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!
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.
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.
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?
Labels: design, fun, PowerPoint, social media
Imagine a Bershon PowerPoint Presentation...
Oh, you know that look. It's the look you have on your eighth-grade picture.
Sullen. Bored. Ennui.
It's a look that says, "I'm a little too cool to have my picture taken, but I must suffer the indignity for the sake of my parents."
This uniquely adolescent pose exasperates mothers of teenagers everywhere.
"Why couldn't you just smile?" they implore.
Until recently, I did not know there was a name for this expression.
Now I do.It's called Bershon.
I discovered the term when I read Design blogger Michael Bierut's post about Bershon
, and witnessed the lovely picture of his wife in a classic Bershon-y (Bershonic?) grimace. I grinned in instant recognition of the classic teen and pre-teen posturing, which heretofore had been nameless to me.
You will recognize Bershon instantly when you see it. And I am much pleased to note that the topic has its own Flickr group, appropriately titled, "I'm so Bershon
". It's a joy to flick through these images. So much so, I'm considering using them for the break slides in my next PowerPoint presentation, no matter what the topic.Note to teenagers and pre-teens everywhere:
for your next class photo, suck it up.
Make your mom happy.
Just smile. :)
And 32 years from now, you won't find your grimacing mug on Flickr.PS to Moms everywhere:
how can you use your new found appreciation for Bershon to generate even more Bershon photos from your young? ;0
Labels: fun, photography, PowerPoint Presentation
Eggs and the Halo Effect: Fun with Easter PowerPoint
Why would you want to use a PowerPoint background that looks like this?
Give yourself the halo effect. Besides its evocatively purple-and-gold Easter egginess, you can glean yet another big benefit from this particular PowerPoint background: the halo effect. When you stand and deliver your presentation, make sure you position your head within the "yolk".
Put yourself in this presentation, and you can make yourself look downright saintly. Perfect for pastors presenting to Easter congregations, nonprofits asking for donations, or salesfolks who need to subliminally reinforce their trustworthy images.
Either that, or the concept is perfect for being perfectly silly!
(Download the full-sized Halo Effect PowerPoint Background.)
Labels: fun, PowerPoint Background
How to Break it to Your Boss: "You Need a Makeover!"
How 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.
Labels: design, fun, PowerPoint Tricks
Camtasia Studio 3 is Free!
Right now, Techsmith is giving away their popular screencasting software, Camtasia 3.
This is not a 30-day trial. It's the full version.
At the moment, the most up-to-date version of the software is Studio 5. When you use Camtasia 3, TechSmith believes you will love it so much, you will want to upgrade to get the latest version.
Camtasia 3 has a ton of great features, though. Certainly enough for you to create training and sales videos. Or record PowerPoint presentations. And maybe even to upload your newly created videos to YouTube. (For example, I used Camtasia 3 to create this YouTube Video about PowerPoint
in August 2007.)Here are instructions for getting your free, fully-functional copy of Camtasia 3:Step 1: Download & install the Studio 3 software:http://download.techsmith.com/camtasiastudio/enu/312/camtasiaf.exe
Register for a password:http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia/pcpls.asp Step 3:
Enter the password into the software.
Use Camtasia 3 to create a viral video.
Upload the video to YouTube tonight, become world-famous over the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Ok, Ok, steps 4 & 5 are totally optional! (But not completely out of the realm of the possible!)Who knows how long this deal will last?
Take advantage of the offer and the long weekend to create something wonderful.
And thanks for giving, TechSmith!
Labels: fun, video
Kitsch and Camp: The PowerPoint Twins
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...
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:
- 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?
Labels: design, fun, images, photography, PowerPoint
Who Looks for Motivational Speakers? Seriously?
Honestly. I hear the term "motivational speaker" and I conjure up an image of Chris Farley. He's in that famous Saturday Night Live Sketch -- where his character "lives in a van, down by the river."
It's a hilarious skit. However, it portrays motivational speakers in a less than positive light!You already are a motivational speaker!
When you think about it, anyone who speaks or presents should be a "motivational speaker". After all, the primary goal of every presentation is to inspire action or enthusiasm. If you're speaking and you're not motivating -- what the heck are you doing?Google Goofed!
So I was amused to look at my stats last week
and find that I suddenly had a ton of folks visiting this blog from Google, looking for the term "motivational". During a Google programming flux this month, this little blog was momentarily at the top of the search heap for that word. Here is the picture -- titled "Paranoia" -- that Google deemed an appropriate result for the "motivational" search.Yes, that's me.
I found this Google goof kind of amusing. After all, there's nothing motivational about my silly picture! And I swear, I didn't do anything to "game" Google into putting this unlikely picture at the top of the results!
But it did get me thinking about what kind of person goes to Google looking for a motivational speaker. What's their thought process?
"Hey, I need a speaker. Guess I'll Google one. Or maybe I can get a bargain speaker at eBay."That scenario seems unlikely.
It seems that if you want a motivational speaker, you go by personal referral. I could be wrong, but sites like Facebook
might be more valuable for finding a motivational speaker. With a social media site, you can get referrals from other people you know and trust. Personally, I'm behind in developing my social networking profiles. But if you target your professional services to people in in their 20's and 30's -- you might want to get going with the whole social media thing, pronto.But who searches for motivational speakers, really?
It seems to me that folks who are looking for motivational speakers at Google are probably looking for information on how to become motivational speakers
. That scenario seems much more likely than actually using a search engine to find a speaker for your organization.So, if you're a motivational speaker, speak up!
Feel free to comment or contact me. If you feel so inclined, please answer the following three questions:
- How did you get into your line of work?
- What's the best way to market your services?
- What advice might you have for newbies?
And what do you really think of that phrase, "motivational speaker?" ;)
PS -- if you want to hire me as your company's motivational speaker, I insist that you provide me with a van. Down by the river...
Labels: fun, images
Funny PowerPoint - Halloween Dogs
I know the Halloween Dogs make the email rounds every October -- but for some reason, the pictures always seem to make me laugh. And I like
This year, you can see and share the latest round of sadly funny dogs in a PowerPoint presentation at Slideshare. No need to email the images and choke up your friends' inboxes - just point them to Slideshare:
Personally, I would never dress up a dog in a Halloween costume. Would you?
Labels: fun, images, Presentation
Fun New PowerPoint Add-In Is Named "Opazity"
Today, Steve Hards of SteveHardSoft Skyped to tell me the news: his fun new PowerPoint add-in
that applies a Gaussian blur to images finally has a name!
It's… (drum roll please!) Opazity
Of the three name choices, both Steve and I were in favor of "Fuzzy Touch". But we were overruled by public preference, so...
Opazity it is.Thanks for voting!
“I’m extremely grateful to the people who voted,” said Steve. “Colleagues thought I was mad to put up the options for people to vote on, but the result shows that without testing these things, you never really know what is going to be best.”Beta testing is going well.
Steve also gave me the opportunity to Beta test Opazity. The fun little add-in installed in minutes. And it took me less time than that to actually learn how to use Opazity to "blur and reveal" different images in PowerPoint.So for Beta test fun,
I quickly created a 5 slide PowerPoint presentation called "Stupid Questions" -- and used Opazity to reveal the "Stupid Answers". (You can see the lighting-fast video results
at YouTube...)Worked like a snap...easy and fun.
Steve said that he will be launching this new PowerPoint add-in product in a few weeks. If you didn't get a chance to view the demo before, go ahead and visit opazity.com
. The voting is over, but you can register for a launch alert at this new site.
Labels: content ideas, fun, PowerPoint Presentation, Presentation Applications, video
How to Deliver a Winning Proposal...
Over dinner (many years ago!), a guy asked me,"Would you like to get married?"
I was eating, so I didn't see him fumbling with an engagement ring.
"Maybe some day. If I ever meet the right guy."
When I looked up and saw his wounded-puppy face with a ring, I rolled my eyes.
Honestly. I ended this relationship. Fast!
Really, gentleman. There is only one way to get a gal to marry you.
You actually have to say the words, "Will you marry me?"
(Or put in writing -- like this creative chap did with the assistance of PowerPoint and an eye doctor.)
Here are some variations on the "Will You Marry Me" phrase that just don't work:
- Would you like to get married?
- What do you say we get engaged?
- How would you feel about marrying me?
No, none of these phrases will do. They're wishy-washy. And the last thing a worthy woman wants to do is marry a timid flake.
Think about this when it's make-or-break time in any relationship -- romantic, social, business, or what-have-you.
How you phrase your proposal makes a huge difference in the kind of response you're likely to get.
Please make a note of it.PS -
What worked for you? (Or what didn't?)
Labels: content ideas, fun
On Emmy Nominations and Industry Awards...
Today's Emmy Nominations
got me thinking... just how important are awards and award shows to industries and individuals, anyway?
Like me, you've probably got some awards littering up your office, lobby, or display case. And so do your suppliers, customers, and students. There isn't a single industry that doesn't give out an award for excellence.
And there isn't a single company that hasn't won at least one award! If you have yet to win, why, you can always scrounge for a high-profile award on eBay
and often buy one for less than the contestant's original entry fee. What a bargain!Award shows can be huge publicity events.
And they bring attention to the industries they serve. But do the pieces of metal and neatly framed certificates really impress anybody? I've got to admit -- my own awards look a little dusty. I tend to set 'em and forget 'em -- choosing to focus on the work at hand instead of lovingly polishing and reminiscing about my past. And over the years, I've thrown a bunch of awards away.Should I have done that?
Or will my little pieces of gold sustain me in my old age? And will seeing them delight my clients? Do awards help convince prospects that I'm brilliant? How long do you keep awards? And do you throw the silver and bronze ones away immediately? What's the protocol?I'm thinking -- sell the award on eBay after a year!
Why? Well, the publicity hub-bub that surrounds the award is the real
value of the award. After all, you can't have an award show without entries and nominations -- and the press releases that accompany them. And then there's the pre-show parade of spectacular outfits and make-up. More publicity.Don't forget: it's all about presentation!
And of course, who can forget the actual award show presentation? In this blog, I am rather fond of saying, "It's all about presentation..." and in the case of award shows, this is particularly true. There's the presentation of the nominations. The pre-show presentation of gowns and tuxes. The presentation of awards. The post-show presentation that summarizes the feelings of everyone involved...And it doesn't stop there.
The marketing maelstrom surrounding the award can live on and on. How many times have you read web copy that asks you to "see our award-winning such-and-such"? Never mind that the product won the award in 1982...But wait -- there's more!
When you win an industry award, you also get a little more post-presentation publicity when you distribute your own press release. This is where you present your own spin on how excellent you are, and how "proud and pleased" your CEO is. You reach far beyond your industry, and tout your award-winning brilliance to a broader audience.Awards can be a horribly addictive substance.
Once you have one, you might feel compelled to enter your work again and again, craving that praise and publicity! I don't know why, but lately I feel mostly embarrassed by my awards -- except for the ones I lie about. When people ask (they usually don't) "What's that award for?" -- I usually lie and say,
"Street fighting. Yep. Used to be a street fighter. Undefeated. Quit while I was ahead. I keep the trophy up to remind me of the violent life I used to lead, and to look to a more peaceful future."Don't take me too seriously.
I'm just a little burned out on award shows right now. I continue to advise them for my clients -- but the parade of award shows for the entertainment industry is getting to be a little much for me. When contestants win and don't even espouse the values of the competition -- many award shows seem to have lost their luster. And many great artists who don't have a giant publicity machine aren't included, making the award shows look scammy.
Seems celebs spend more time accolading than acting lately...
Labels: fun, Presentation
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.
1. 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? ;)
Labels: design, fun
Avoid Monumental Presentations!
How is a politician's speech like the Washington Monument?A:
It goes a long way before it gets to the point.
In honor of Independence Day:
Avoid "monumental" corporate PowerPoint presentations and long-winded politicians! It's a summer holiday must!
Happy Fourth of July!
PowerPoint Anniversary - Not Old Enough to Buy Yet
PowerPoint celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Of course, this means that PowerPoint has not quite yet reached legal age in the U.S.
So as always, use PowerPoint responsibly!
Hmmm....the above retro-sign-on-the-wall indicates that incoherently grouped bullet points, bad grammar, strange fonts, and pointless clip art might actually have existed long before PowerPoint
What do you think? ;)
PowerPoint Logos: From Pac Man to Canada
last year, I noted that the PowerPoint logo
looked like Pac Man going after goblins. However, I think the icon really depicts a pie chart trying to gobble up bullet points.
This year, as I work on PowerPoint presentations, I glance at the new PowerPoint 2007 logo in my taskbar and think, "Is that the flag of Canada? Wait, no. It's the new PowerPoint icon."
However, one might also think that in this new Power Point logo, the bullet points are trying to eat that pie chart!
(Although the flag of Canada is red, when the logo is scrunched down to taskbar size, the new PowerPoint logo looks like a waving flag to me.)
I guess we see what we want to see.
Best Graduation Speech Template Ever - 2007 Edition
Quite a few people are online searching for "graduation speech templates" this month. Honestly, what sort of valedictorian or salutatorian
would want to merely "fill-in-the-blanks" for a commencement speech that should be an honor to prepare and deliver?
Creativity and originality is important to the overachievers who give graduation speeches. I kind of doubt they are looking for a fill-in-the-blanks, boilerplate approach.
So, just who are the people who are looking for graduation speech templates online? Are you the same folks who use the old Microsoft PowerPoint AutoContent Wizard to develop presentations like "Communicating Bad News" or "Motivating a Team"?Or are you just looking for a little fun
-- a little humor to relieve the last stressful month of Senior-itis?Well, here it is, for Seniors only:
a free, 2-page pdf download created just for the Class of 2007, which I immodestly call "Best Graduation Speech Template Ever: 2007 Edition
". Seniors, you can download it, print her out, fill in the blanks, and easily get that pesky writing assignment out of the way -- a month early!
Don't forget to horrify your parents and teachers by asking them to listen to your templated speech before you threaten to give it to a commencement audience!
Best wishes and congratulations to the Class of 2007!
Labels: fun, images, PowerPoint Templates
PowerPoint Death Watch
If you Googled the phrase last year at this time, the search engine dredged up 55,000 pages that use that term.
This year, we are up to 82,400.
That is almost a 50% increase. See chart.
Apparently, the cliche is here to stay. What will next year yield?
Labels: fun, PowerPoint
PowerPoint 2007 Packaging is Peculiar
Another reason to download new programs online -- the physical package that contains the PowerPoint 2007 CD is downright peculiar.
It took my aging eyes quite a while to figure out how to bust open the Microsoft Office 2007 Suite. The directions for opening the package are quite clear (see image below):
And by "clear", I literally mean "transparent". The red instructions you see so clearly above are printed on see-through plastic -- and taped over an orange-red background. I also had to peel off yet another gossamer strip not mentioned in the above, um, "instructions".
My recommendation for opening the packaging is to get someone with sharp fingernails to fondle the package to find and peel off the invisible tape -- before you follow the instructions.
But perhaps most amusing part of the package is this gem printed on the side of the box (yellow highlights are mine)
I think the first line basically says, "You have to have internet access to access the internet" -- which is pretty funny in itself. But the highlighted part about the fictitious events is simply gibberish. The fictitious events have no association or connection to --- anything?
What on earth is that supposed to mean? No more Christopher Columbus PowerPoint presentation examples? ;)
PowerPoint in the Comedy Club
You will see PowerPoint presentations just about everywhere -- churches, schools, corporate boardrooms, hotel conference rooms -- but seldom will you see PowerPoint in stand up comedy or at a comedy club.
However, PowerPoint is a prop. And a good prop comic can use PowerPoint to make folks laugh.
In his 4 minute MySpace
video, comedian Don McMillan presents you with his PowerPoint performance at a comedy club. The presentation/performance, Life After Death By PowerPoint
, is a hit with his audience.
In his performance, Mr. McMillan conclusively proves that engineers can be engaging and (intentionally) funny!Visit "Technically Funny" for more details on the corporate comedy offerings of Mr. Don McMillan.
Labels: fun, PowerPoint Presentation
Groundhog Day Wallpaper and More...
If you are presenting on Groundhog Day, you might want to pay tribute to the mystical powers of this amazing beast in your presentation.
A tunneling and hibernating animal, the Groundhog is a symbol
of getting deeper and dreamier; of contemplation, wisdom, and profundity.
It's also a fat, funny, and photogenic little varmint.
(Although, they are not funny at all when they tear up your yard and eat all the veggies in your garden. These "cute" pests have voracious appetites.)
To celebrate: I downloaded Groundhog desktop wallpaper at the beautiful National Geographic Animal website. When I give a presentation off my laptop tomorrow, I will be paying playful respect to the spirit of this amazing little critter.
Aside from the wonderful animal wallpaper images you find at National Geographic online, you can also find delightful and succinct Groundhog facts to use in your presentation.
Also, you can visit the official site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club for the latest in breaking Groundhog Day news and information.
Happy G Day!
Online Fun With Facial Recognition
How good are you at spotting a fake smile?
You can test your success in this quick Spot the Fake smile quiz
, brought to you by the BBC. You simply view 20 quick video clips, and judge them as "Genuine" or "Fake". You can only play each clip once, so you must rely on your gut reaction.More fun with faces.
Next, go visit myHeritage.com to use their facial recognition
software. For the example you see below, I simply swept up my hair with my hand, snapped a head-on photo with my laptop's video cam, and let the myHeritage.com software scan my pouty mug.
Next, the software did an online photo database search to find the celebrity mugshot that most closely matched my facial characteristics.The difference between fake and genuine laughter.
So when my friends snorted with derision or burst out in laughter at my flattering myHeritage analysis, I could instantly assess that their amusement was genuine.
(Other than being a humanoid, I have nothing in common with Angelina Jolie.)
Still, there will be no living with me now. Or ever.
Who is your celebrity look-alike? Visit myHeritage and find out! And have fun...
Cartoons and the Business Presentation
How do you feel about using cartoons within business presentations? I seldom use them, but I have seen them frequently. And with varying degrees of success.
I have yet to hear a presented business cartoon elicit wild, side-splitting laughter from a business audience. The best
I have heard are polite and possibly sincere chuckles. And the most I have ever given up is a wry smile.
And I'm a gal who laughs heartily. At almost anything
But given the business setting, a wry smile or a little chuckle is probably appropriate. Make the audience warm up to you or your subject a little. And maybe it is the best a business presenter can possibly expect.
(Please, somebody prove me wrong! I love to laugh!)
Sadly, most cartoon presentations I see have missed the mark by a huge margin (I'll tell you about the worst cartoon presentation I've ever seen later in this post. It was a doozy.
But I've also seen cartoons used successfully in business presentations. Here are three factors that make the cartoon-within-a-presentation work:First, the cartoon must be in context
. It can't just be this funny, unrelated thing that you throw in there. It actually has to have something to do with the topic at hand. The best cartoons connect your audience to your content...emotionally and positively.Secondly, the cartoon must be independent of explanation.
Good presenters don't read slides to their audiences: and they certainly don't read cartoons to them! If your audience didn't connect with your cartoon, don't even try to explain it to them. If you have to explain why something is funny: it is not funny. Move on.Thirdly, the cartoon must pack ONE hard visual punch
. One-panel cartoons tend to work better in business presentations than multiple-panel cartoons. As a presenter, you don't want to be speaking while your audience is reading. Either they'll ignore you while they're reading (bad) or get annoyed at you for yapping while they are reading (worse). You can always remain perfectly silent while waiting for your audience to read multiple panels...but there's a big
pitfall: certain audience members will always read faster than others. The speed readers will laugh first, which annoys or insults the slower readers. The slow readers will then pretend that they read the joke, but to protect their egos, they won't laugh.
"Oh, yeah, I read it. I just didn't think it was funny."
That's why cartoons with clear, simple graphics work better than long, wordy cartoons. In essence, the best business presentation cartoons are very much like good PowerPoint slide designs: high visual impact, few words.
As for my pick for the worst use of a cartoon in a business presentation: it has to go to the fellow who used a cartoon that depicted three different bodily emissions. And I'm not talking sweat or spit: these three emissions are typically only seen in private.
His presentation was beyond "thud". The audience emotion was horror, embarrassment, disbelief -- a wide variety of negative emotions. So even though the cartoon met 2.5 of my criteria above (in context, highly visual, emotionally connected with the audience), there's probably one more factor I should mention: keep it clean. The cartoon emotionally connected with audience, but not in a positive way!
And remember, cartoonists like to get paid for their creative efforts. I've seen too many cartoonists who have their copyrights violated. It is illegal to scan a comic strip that you find amusing and include it in a public presentation. You have to give credit (and/or cash) to the cartoonist.
So when you want to check out some high quality cartoons for use in business presentations, visit these four sites:
- Newsletter Cartoons Ted Goff offers reasonable rates for the use of his cartoons in business presentations. You can also get free cartoon feeds for your website.
- New Yorker Cartoons The New Yorker offers its classic business cartoons for use in your PowerPoint presentations. They have a sale going on - $19.95 per cartoon.
- Andertoons Mark Anderson offers cartoons for your presentations and webfeeds.
- Glasbergen Cartoonist Randy Glasbergen has more than 1,000 business and computer cartoons at his website.
Anybody know of any more good (clean) business cartoons?
Labels: fun, PowerPoint Presentation