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Category: Communication (page 1 of 2)

Don’t Be Boring–Tell a Story (Please)

No more boring church newsletters or dull missions presentations, OK?

If you’re in missions or church ministry and need to communicate to others the importance of what you do, please check out Go Tell It, a new book by veteran journalists Jim Killam and Lincoln Brunner. It’s a simple and practical book on storytelling through writing, photography, and video.

It’s good stuff that will help you tell your story and move people to action–I wrote a quick review of it on Amazon.

EXTRA CREDIT: After you read Go Tell It, pick up the Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick.

A Great Offer for New Graduates

If you’re about to graduate from college and you’re looking for a job, you’ll need a way to stand out. Finding a job is really about marketing: getting a prospective employer to know, like, and trust you and showing how you’re different.

How are you going to do that?

One way is with your business card.

No, not with a plain white card like everyone else’s. Something snazzy.

Fortunately for you, Moo–makers of some of the snazziest business cards ever–is offering a 20% discount to students through December 12, 2012.

Get your Moo cards here.

I use Moo MiniCards for both my photography and consulting businesses. Every time I hand them out, people say, “Cool–I’ve never seen a card like that.”


Presentation Design for the Classroom

What do effective presentations look like in a college classroom?

Today I offered some thoughts on this to a group of adjunct faculty at the Hargrove School at Lincoln Christian University. The faculty development session was only 45 minutes so we were limited in what we could cover but here are the key points.

  1. Don’t default to PowerPoint – You have lots of options for learning experiences: demonstrations, writing/drawing on the whiteboard, discussion, video, and more. PowerPoint is just one tool.
  2. One idea per slide – The less that’s on the slide, the fewer distractions, the better the focus. Instead of using one slide with six bullet points, expand that one slide out to six separate slides.
  3. Minimize text – Closely related to #2. Don’t type everything on the slide that you plan to say. Use just a word or two.
  4. Use pictures – Images are powerful and emotional. We remember what we feel. When you use images, don’t feel constrained by the placeholders on the slide–let your photos fill the slide. See The Girl Effect for a good example of these points.
  5. Stories for the win – Stories engage us emotionally and spark curiosity, an essential ingredient for learning. They can also be used to keep and regain attention (See Dr. John Medina’s notes on attention from his book Brain Rules).
  6. Give cues – Many students take notes by writing what they see on the PowerPoint slides–nothing more. Give students verbal cues: “write this down,” “this is important,” “this will be on the test.” You can also build visual cues into your presentation that help them navigate your lecture. For example, create your main point slides in one color and subpoint slides in a different color.
  7. Get inspired – Here are a few helpful resources: TED (and here are some of my favorite talks), Slideshare (here are my favorites), Compfight (great tool for searching images on flickr), Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath (give them your email address and they’ll give you some excellent teaching and presenting resources for free), and Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.

Last fall I wrote a couple posts to help students prepare better presentations for their end-of-semester projects. You might find those helpful as well:

Thanks to Hargrove School leaders Steve Collins and Tom Tanner for inviting me to participate in the event and thanks also to everyone who attended and asked good questions.

UPDATE: Here’s a photo that Rick Champ, one of the attendees, took from the back of the room as we were getting started. Rick’s a smart guy and he’s on twitter–you might follow him.

Note: if you found this post helpful, be sure to visit my consulting website: Renovate Communication Design, LLC.

Renovate Communication Design, LLC - Make better presentations with the Presentation Renovation approach

Two Good Articles on Stories and Presentations

These are both worth checking out:

The first reveals how Russell Goldsmith, CEO of City National Bank in Los Angeles, has created a culture of storytelling in his company. Since stories are memorable and emotional, this enables both employees and customers to build stronger relationships with the business. There are also some good insights on interviewing and hiring at the end of the interview.

The second article offers advice that many presentation designers have been sharing for years (but that still needs reinforcing): tell a story, use pictures, avoid bullet points, issue a clear call to action. I’d argue that the author’s fifth point–don’t use more than 10 slides–is unnecessary. While you don’t want to use any more slides than necessary, placing a limit on the number of slides is arbitrary.

How to Optimize the 6 Seconds Recruiters Will Spend Looking at Your Resume

According to a recent study, recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing resumes:

In the short time that they spend with your resume, the study showed recruiters will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.

So–make sure recruiters can find those things easily.


Recommended Fonts for Presentations

Last week I suggested that you might give your publications some new life this year and venture beyond the default fonts of your computer. Just today, MyFonts.com has published their list of the most popular fonts of 2011. Of the fonts that made the grade, I think these would work well in presentations:

Remember that not every font should be used for every application. Populaire, for example, won’t sit well for a presentation to investors but would be great in a less formal setting. Experiment by creating some slides with your type choices and see how they work.

New Type for the New Year

You’ll have documents and presentations to prepare in 2012. Instead of using the default fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Tahoma), try something different. Here are several classics recommended by acclaimed designer Massimo Vignelli:

  • Garamond
  • Bodoni
  • Century Expanded
  • Helvetica
  • Optima
  • Futura
  • Univers
  • Caslon
  • Baskerville

If they’re not installed on your computer, you can purchase these at FontShop. Of course, there are many other choices besides these (and that’s kind of the point). Remember that each font has its own distinctive characteristics and “voice,” so use the right tool for the job.

If you’re thinking, “What’s the fuss over fonts?” then check out the BMW logos below. Only one uses the correct type and your impression of the company wouldn’t be the same if they used a different typeface. Bonus points if you can name the impostors.

“Boring to Bold” Highlighted on the Interwebs

Since I posted my “Boring to Bold” slides on Slideshare in October, the presentation has been picked up by two business web sites, The Big Picture and Econsultancy. Here are the links:

Thanks for the links and thanks for passing on the word. Here’s to better presentations.

A Few More Thoughts on Student Presentations

The other day, I offered an incomplete list of presentation suggestions for college students. Since that list was incomplete, here are a few more ideas, specifically on your presentation slideshow:

  • Don’t use a PowerPoint template; instead, look for design inspiration on Slideshare. It’s a little like the Internet in general: there’s a lot of bad stuff but some good stuff too. Pay attention to the colors and typefaces. Here are a few of my favorite designs on Slideshare and here are two slidedecks I’ve posted there: Time Management for College Students and Boring to Bold: Presentation Design Ideas for Non-Designers.
  • For small rooms, consider light background colors; for large rooms, dark backgrounds.
  • Don’t steal images from Google Images (or other places). Either buy them from iStockphoto or get free Creative Commons images from flickr. Compfight is the best way to search the flickr Creative Commons pool. Make sure the images have enough resolution so they don’t have jaggies.
  • One idea per slide.
  • To see some outstanding presentations–both with and without slides–spend some time watching the videos on TED. It’s an excellent investment of your time. You could also watch a Steve Jobs presentation or two.
More to come…

Boring to Bold — “Featured” on Slideshare

Earlier today I posted a slide deck on Slideshare.net, “Boring to Bold: Presentation Design Ideas for Non-Designers,” some thoughts on creating presentations that communicate more effectively than the usual bullet-laden slides that most of us see. Late this afternoon, Slideshare notified me that the presentation had been chosen to be “Featured” on their home page–excellent! Click over to Slideshare to see the presentation.

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