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Tips on creating presentations with personality

Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Revolutionary New Touch-Screen Projector

Monday, January 25th, 2010

If you’re looking for the future of presentation technology, you only need look as far as CSI Miami and its futuristic rainbow-lit headquarters.

That’s where you’ll find image scanners that can query a database of all the left-handed golf gloves in Florida, and bring up a photo and address of each owner. We’ve previously discussed their image sharpening software that can take a grainy security camera image and enlarge it to full HD.

Then there’s the transparent screens that allow you to flick images around with your hand like playing cards, which you can see at the 2′30″ mark here:

Now, you could say that CSI isn’t realistic program. That’s a fair viewpoint when last week’s TV Guide offered this as the plot of CSI NY:

“After a buzzard flying over Manhattan drops a human eyeball into Stella’s coffee, the race is on to find its owner.”

But as it turns out, we’ll all be getting our greasy hands all over our presentation material sooner than we think. Here’s the just-released Light Touch from Light Blue Optics.


It’s “a laser projector that turns any flat surface into an auto-focused and image-adjusted 10-inch touchscreen with WVGA resolution thanks to its laser- (not LED) based pico projection engine dubbed HLP (holographic laser projection) and infrared touch-sensing system.”

Amazing. Obviously its uses go way beyond the tradition presentation-based projector, like in retail:


Stand by for interesting changes to the way presentations work.

And get ready to see ‘please wash your hands before touching our screen‘ signs in conference centres.

Ten Things Anthony Robbins and Hitler Have In Common – Part 1

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Would you like to learn the secret presentation techniques of Anthony Robbins, the most renowned and highly-paid speaker in the world?

You bet you do.

To fully understand these techniques, you have to go back a little further, to the guy who wrote the rules on stadium-scale crowd motivation. A man who got ‘em to not only listen to his message, but also act on it, always a much tougher task.

That guy was renowned, errr… National Socialist dictator A. Hitler.

Hitler pioneered pretty much every modern-day live motivation technique except PowerPoint. He was, regrettably, an absolute master at it. And not through natural giftedness, but through decades of hard work and practice.

An Anthony Robbins speech is a master class of Hitler techniques from start to finish.

OK, OK, calm down. I’m not saying Anthony Robbins is an evil genocidal maniac. He seems like a perfectly reasonable guy.

And while Hitler was about as bad a specimen as the human race has produced so far, it’s worth studying just how he managed to persuade huge numbers of ordinary people to follow him down that path. What possible combination of words could make the average Johann Citizen turn on their own neighbors with such apparent enthusiasm?

The Hitler and Robbins approach takes presentation perfectionism to a level that few bother to do, managing every tiny detail of the speech to be as effective as humanly possible - script, sound, appearance, setting, pacing, and a lot more.

Setting aside the choice of using your speaking powers for good or evil, there’s a lot to be learned from both.

Here’s Part 1 of the Robbins/Hitler Top 10 Presentation Secrets.

1. Get Them Up On Their Feet

As Robbins says, passive audiences don’t retain information. They won’t go into battle, literally or in a real estate sales role, if they’re sitting back in their chairs. Both speakers get the audience on their feet and yelling.  A few hours of massed footstomping takes the audience to a different emotional place, particularly when combined with:

2. Powerful Music

Hitler blasted his audiences with hours of loud music, much of it original material written in a stirring martial style by sympathetic composers.  Atmosphere and continuity was all carefully planned: sombre minor keys were avoided, and major key music was arranged so successive pieces were no more than a couple of keys apart. Success is all in the details, people.

Robbins music is equally loud and relentless, though more your C’N’C Music Factory’s We’ve Got the Power school of 90’s corporate anthems.

3. Extravagant (But Well-Planned) Hand Gestures

Watch the enormous Robbins hands in action. There’s the two clenched fists of exhilaration in front of the chest, a move taken to new heights by Tom Cruise on Oprah. There’s the open outstretched hands of friendship. There’s the chopping of the rigid hand into the other palm to beat out the rhythm of a sentence. All building up the drama.

Hitler, too, spent hours practicing his stage moves in front of the mirror. People see movie clips of him with flailing arms and think: what a rabid nutcase. But he’d spend the first couple of hours (yes, hours!) in a calmer, Herr Reasonable mode, gradually working up to the dramatic crescendo.  To his audience, the lectern-bashing made perfect sense by the time he got there. Compare  both sets of hands in the two video clips below.

4. Audience Fist Pumping

The repetition of getting people to punch the air keeps them energized and creates a sense of shared purpose, whether it’s the classic Sieg Heil salute or the constant ‘Say Aye’ exhortations of Robbins.

5. Advanced Technology

Hitler was one of the first politicians to use the new technology of the time – public address systems and floodlights. In the 30’s, the spectacle of one man enthralling a stadium full of people must have created something of a God-like impression.

An audio technician I know set up a bunch of Anthony Robbins shows. He told me that part of the audio specification was an enormous arsenal of military-strength sub-bass speakers underneath the stage. When Robbins clapped his fist to his chest, just close enough to his radio mic*, it sounded like someone swinging a wrecking ball onto the Statue of Liberty. Subconsciously, the audience thought: Whoah - he’s an enormous man of steel!

Here’s some viewing for you. For presentation analysis only, OK? Not to suggest that Hitler and Robbins have anything else in common.

Part 2 later in the week, unless angry mobs storm my office and burn my laptop.

*Yes, technical buffs, this was before he started using headset mics.

Why Have A Conference At All?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Welcome back, folks.  Back to work last week and straight down to Tasmania for our own conference with Scene Change people from around the country.  And very productive it was, too.

A conference technology company having its own conference raises some interesting questions.

We all speak on a semi-daily basis, face-to-face, via video Skype. This ticks all the conversational boxes. You can hear them. You can see them. You could argue: why bother having a conference at all?

Undercover Communication: Fun to Do, Hard To Manage

The idea of a conference as a series of presentations and formal discussions misses a large part of the picture. Part of the role of any conference presentation is providing material for the discussions that happen in smaller groups after-hours. That’s where friends are made, alliances are formed, stories are told and deals are done. The truth comes out after dark.

Face-to-face, you pick up far more of the non-verbal signals that tell you whether your ideas are getting across or not.

It’s a tricky area for Management, because informal communication is almost impossible to manage. It just takes its own course.

Can The Machines Take Over?

Years ago when I was a corporate communications guy for a big event technology firm, I’d get regular calls from trade journalists writing their annual story on videoconferencing.

“Will videoconferencing replace actual conferences?” they would ask.

A tough question, as I had a vested interest in promoting videoconferencing, since it cost about a million dollars a minute at that time. Even so, the answer was clearly, emphatically ‘no’.  Like living on food pills from a robotic vending machine, it’s one of those Jetsons-future ideas that completely misses the point of human nature.

Meetings Are A Personal Thing

Humans are social animals. We like to gather in flocks, preferably with a drink in hand, to gossip and complain and flirt and generally draw comfort from the fact that everyone else has pretty much the same problems as you.

The idea that this can all be replaced by electronic transmissions goes against thousands of years of human instinct. It’s like the idea of telecommuting, which was going to transform our way of life and reshape our cities.  As it turned out, it’s fun for a week or so, but unless you seek out human contact, you’ll grow permanent tracksuit pants and turn into a one-person dandruff farm.

Of course, there are meetings that should be replaced by Skype. I know people who regularly fly to another city, have a one-hour meeting in a windowless room at the airport, then fly home again. Personally, I’d rather stand on the side of the highway operating a Stop/Go sign.

The technology is there to support the personal element of meetings, not replace it. Gathering around and telling stories is something that defines us as humans, and that’s something we should celebrate.

Presidential Technology: No Patching for Obama

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

They won’t let Barack Obama use his Blackberry when he becomes President.

You have to feel for the guy. He’s put a lot of effort into becoming President, and his current Blackberry habits suggest he likes communications gadgetry.

I’m sure he was expecting to be rewarded with access to an Aladdin’s cave of top-secret gizmos, devices light years ahead of the ones us mere mortals fiddle with in airport lounges (and what did business people do in airports before they had things with buttons on them? Play charades? Think?).

A couple of weeks ago we reviewed Adobe Crime Scene, the futuristic image sharpener that turns security-cam to HD, available only to CSI’s Horatio Caine and his white-panted staff. President Obama will need a copy of that, if only for the kids to play with.

But most of all, Obama has earned the right to a Jack Bauer Phone.

You’ve seen it on 24.  Despite its handy compact size, the Jack Bauer Phone sucks bandwidth out of the sky like a jet engine.

Graphics? It can view complex building schematics, including live blinking terrorist trackers, on a screen the size of a matchbox.

Best of all, it has amazing ‘patching’ facilities. What’s patching? God knows, but it beats email attachments.  You just ring up the faithful Chloe and ask her to ‘patch through’ the warehouse security camera from an unknown address across town. Or patch through the instrument readouts from the jet fighters with the nuclear missiles.

The only drawback of patching is that it’s forbidden by Chloe’s small-minded office supervisors, probably because of the bandwidth bills the last time she patched ‘the satellite network’ through to Jack as he clung upside down to the axles of the terrorists’ moving truck.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I try downloading building schematics and satellite networks all day while shooting heaps of people, my batteries tend to go flat. You’ve probably found the same. Jack uses some sort of plutonium battery that goes the full 24 hours.

That’s the stuff President Obama should have! Instead, all his correspondence has to be secure and available ‘for the official record’.

Obama will know what this means. As a lawyer, he would have watched older law firm partners ask their secretary to print out entire web sites so they can read them. Your parents may do the same. You can picture young Obama trying to show them how to read the screen.

That’s not the way we do things here, son.”

Sacrifices of public office, indeed.