Save the arts

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If a presentation was a theater piece it would involve a dozen different professions, such as: playwright, editor, impresario, director, dramatic advisor, set designer, video designer, props master, stage manager, technician, prompter, and actor. Every business person knows it would take more than a week to simply get all these people together — given the playwright’s job is already done and the script is already written. Of course it is insane to start a new piece in the morning when the premiere is tonight. Nobody would do that, right? Wrong! In business life that happens all the time. We think these geniuses are wasted. They should join the theater — in times of shrinking budgets they might be able to save the arts.

Axel Wendelberger

Merry X-Mas and a Happy 2011!

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Find the German version here.

Talking about intercultural differences

TED conferences are places for visionary people to meet and “share ideas that matter”. In November 2009, TED India took place in Mysore in the South of India. Devdutt Pattanaik and Derek Sivers presented their views on intercultural differences. Devdutt Pattanaik, Indian mythologist, author, and Chief Belief Officer with a corporation in Mumbai, talked about fundamental concepts, deeply rooted in culture and tradition. Derek Sivers, American musician, entrepreneur, minimalist and globetrotter, showed how misleading cultural biases can be. Easterner and Westerner both arrived at the same conclusion… Continue reading...

PowerPoint Wars — Colonel under fire

When we coined the term PowerPoint Wars we thought of it as a cultural phenomenon, a period of transition from outdated paradigms to contemporary ways of preparing, designing, and delivering presentations in the media age. That this kind of “war” could claim real victims was beyond our imagination — until now. Back in August, Army Colonel Lawrence Sellin got fired by the International Security Assistance Force’s Joint Command in Afghanistan, 48 hours after United Press International published his polemics about the military’s excessive use of PowerPoint presentations. Continue reading...

Derek Sivers — Zen master of motivation

What if somebody approached you with the task to hold a meaningful presentation about a topic of your choice in order to motivate a crowd of complete strangers? And if that wasn’t enough to scare the living daylight out of you, the timeframe given lies somewhere between two and five minutes. How would you approach this task? What topic would you choose? What stories would you tell and how would you tell them? Here is your chance to learn from a master. Enjoy the following three presentations by musician and entrepreneur Derek Sivers. Continue reading...

Twelve weeks with the iPad — Tool or toy?

Ah the iPad — long awaited, much talked about, and less than half a year after its debut already almost a mainstream device. Apple did it again. Again they disrupted the market, again they couldn’t keep up with the demand, and again we couldn’t wait to hold that new magical thing in our hands… We have been using it for twelve weeks now, a good opportunity to look back and answer the one question: Is it fit for everyday use? Can it be used for work? Tool or toy? Continue reading...

In search for a universal language

Business presentations have become a major communication medium. Meetings without slides are virtually unthinkable. Often an intercultural element comes into play, unnoticed by the presenter and the listeners. International teams in big corporations are common today. And English is being used worldwide as a corporate language even in non-american businesses. What advise can be given to business people who face the challenge of making a presentation in front of listeners of sometimes very different cultural backgrounds? Continue reading...

PowerPoint Wars — Update from the battlefield

At a military conference in North Carolina in April, some high-ranking officers spoke out about the dangers of using PowerPoint to convey crucial information. Brigadier-General Herbert McMaster said, “It’s dangerous, because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control.” In 2005, McMasters had banned PowerPoint when he led an operation in Iraq. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable,” he told the conference. That kind of harsh PowerPoint criticism isn’t new, but it seems that over the last ten years a lot has changed in respect of how presentations are perceived, designed and delivered. Continue reading...

Barry Schwartz about wisdom

Apart from his enlightening topics there is a lot we can learn from Barry Schwatz’s presentations — although (or, maybe just because) he is not our picture-book presenter. After the video three thoughts, in order of appearance. Continue reading...

Keynote for iPad — First customer reviews

Now that the iPad has arrived — to US customers at least — we are eager to listen to the first hands-on experiences of real-life customers. The app that interests us most is Keynote. We have been Keynote users since day one and know the program rather well. Our main question is: Can we use Keynote on the iPad for serious work, can we just import our Keynote files to the iPad and present them in our seminars? So far, we know little more than what Apple tells us: “Keynote is the powerful presentation app you love from iWork, completely reworked for iPad and Multi-Touch. So you can do everything on iPad with a tap or drag of your finger — from creating your first slide to presenting your work.” Let’s see how Apple’s claims stand up to the first customer reviews on iTunes, three days after the release… Continue reading...

R’n’B — presenter’s friends

Some time ago, in the executive conference room of a small company in Düsseldorf, we showed the final version of a marketing presentation that we developed for that client. It was a small audience, four decision makers, the president of the company among them, and they loved it. They loved the structure, they loved the slides, and they loved their company image. But beyond all that, they were impressed that we did not look back on the screen once, and still had all the slides and animations come in at the right time. After working for weeks on a presentation it would be surprising not to be familiar with every slide and every animation. After all, that is the main reason why a presenter should create her own visuals, or at least spend enough time with them. But a presenter can’t be expected to fly completely without instruments, and we certainly didn’t. Continue reading...

Van Jones’s “one brilliant slide”

A presentation can be built around one central slide. Van Jones gives us a perfect example — not only of how such a slide looks like, but of how to present it with impact as well. The central question of the presentation is: “Is there some way we could connect the work that most needs doing with the people that most need work?” Continue reading...

Derek Sivers — The opposite may also be true

Musician and entrepreneur Derek Sivers talks about open mindedness and tolerance using some unexpected examples of how easily we jump to conclusions and how always the exact opposite can also be true. In only 2:20 minutes he takes us on a surprising journey around the globe — from a street in the U.S. to Japan, China, Africa, and India. Maybe most surprising: although very short, his presentation feels deep and meaningful, and helps us understand ourselves — and others — a little more… Continue reading...