Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Synopsis: Presentation Zen (Finding the core)

If designing a presentation is a creative act, what will help you be more creative? That's the thrust of the next section of Presentation Zen (PZ). The book spends quite a few pages convincing the reader about the value of creativity, and then provides some strategies to enhance it. The ones I particularly liked were:

1. Approach the presentation with a beginner's mind; don't worry about making mistakes or failing. Instead, adopt an attitude of experimentation and exploration. Try to rid yourself of preconceived ideas.

2. Take things slowly. Spend some time alone, stilling your mind, contemplating the problem. Hopefully you'll then start to see the big picture of your presentation, and figure out what its core message(s) are.

I don't think PZ argues its case quite as strongly when it comes to the value of having restrictions. The author believes that if you're not given restrictions, you should impose them on yourself. While I'm not totally convinced, I am a fan of pecha kucha, so I'm prepared to buy into it for the rest of the book.

However, there is one restraint that feels right to me: reducing your presentation down to its absolute essentials.

What's the point?

... of your presentation? If you were to condense your talk down to 5 minutes, to 2 minutes, ... if you were to shorten it to 30 seconds, what would be left? What is the core message(s) you're trying to get across? (*)

* Apparently, you'll be lucky if you can get your audience to remember even one point from your presentation.

That's one question that PZ hammers on again and again. The other is "Why does it matter?" To make people care about your presentation and the point(s) you're trying to make will require persuasion, emotion and empathy, as well as a logically constructed argument.


Helen Rickerby said...

Aha - that's what you ought to - give a presentation at some up coming pecha kucha night thing. Not that I've managed to actually go to one, but they sound cool...

Claire said...

Pecha kucha is cool! I've been to just one. Next Pecha Kucha Night at the wonderful Overseas Terminal venue on 9 June at 7.30 pm sharp...

hix said...

Thanks for the encouragement and information :)

I absolutely want to go to a PK night (this Tuesday doesn't work for me, unfortunately).

@Helen: I shall seriously consider it ... after I've managed to finish and deliver my first presentation!