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Tips on creating presentations with personality

Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Practice Twitter To Cut The Blather

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

All presenters should Twitter, to practice compressing an idea into 140 characters. More clarity, more impact. End of post.



Twitter in meetings: opportunity or apocalypse?

Monday, October 19th, 2009


“There’s an invisible underworld of delegates in your audience hooked on Twitter: commenting on the presenter, the food, themselves, and their favorite character from Star Wars.”

I’m writing a monthly column now for magazine. This month it’s about social media invading the world of conferences and presentations.

View the on-line version here. It’s one of those screen-magazine style viewers, so when you get there, ask it to go to page 82.

Miles Clarke Award-WInning Article On Line

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009


Pic: Eventpix

Some months ago I was honored to win the first Miles Clarke Business Events Communication Award - seen being presented above by the adorable Elizabeth Rich.

I’ve been waiting for it to appear in print before I posted it. It’s now published in Brad Foster’s fine magazine.

Read it here, it’s a PDF so you’ll need to click on the orange “Time To Embrace The Unvirtual” link at the bottom of the page.

It’s interesting to re-read it - modern trend articles always run the risk of being a bit out of date by the time they get printed. It was written about 6 months ago, during which time meeting Twitter has gone feral - at least in the US -  with sweeping implications for meeting etiquette.

The core message is that people need to get away from all their screens occasionally and actually do something real and memorable, surrounded by actual humans.

Jarvis Cocker, ex-frontman of Britpopsters Pulp, put it nicely in a recent Sydney Morning Herald interview:

The idea of a performance being a one-off appeals to Cocker.

“It gets on my nerves when people seem so intent on filming everything on their mobile phones. I just wish people would experience it and be in that moment,” he says.

“It used to be when you went on holiday you’d see families where the father couldn’t interact with anyone, so hed’s stand there with the video camera filming the whole holiday and you’d think ‘what a sad character’. Now young people are doing it - it’s bad. They’re becoming middle-aged before their time.”

Cocker says having something that lingers only as a memory is better, as it changes over time.

“It gets altered by your brain, by your perception, whereas if you’ve just got a crappy, handheld phone footage version of it, it brings it all crashing down to earth, you know what I mean?”

Social Media Explained in One Image

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Not many people use Venn diagrams in presentations, maybe because they remind us of school.

But you won’t find a better explanation of social media than this gem:


(Via, available as a t-shirt).

Another fine source of Venn diagrams and graph explaining social situations is Jessica Hagy’s brilliant Indexed.


The Two Core Benefits That Make Them Listen

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Audiences Have A Well-Developed Defense Shield. Pic Trevino

The first few lines are where you win or lose your audience. A well-crafted opening lowers the audience defense shield and lets the rest of your message through.

It’s always tempting to open with stuff about yourself or your company and how clever and successful you are.

Audiences don’t care about that. They’re here to find out what’s in it for them, and how you can make their lives better in some way.

So get someone else to introduce you. They can do your cred-building for you, then you can launch straight into what the audience wants to hear.

Don’t Think You’re Above Being A Salesperson

Every presentation is selling something, even if you aren’t in the business world. An academic presentation, for example, is still selling your ideas and your intellectual standing, and the better you can sell it, the brighter your future.

Any half-decent salesperson knows that everything distils down to two core benefits: persuade them the product will:

1. Bring them pleasure, or

2. Take away pain

and you’re well on your way to closing the deal.

For the average presentation audience, pleasure comes in forms like increased sales or profits, a higher share price, a promotion, closing a sale, or winning admiration from their peers.

Taking away pain might be lowering costs, lessening staff turnover, avoiding lawsuits, increasing safety, not getting yelled at by the boss, or any kind of problem solving.

Which Benefit Works Best?

When in doubt, pain avoidance is usually the most compelling benefit. Doubly so in times beset by economic crisis and swine flu. (What next? I’m thinking of building an ark.) And double that again if the audience is from large companies or government, where risk minimization and blame avoidance are a way of life.

So when you plan the opening, think about what’s important in the everyday lives of your audience. What would help make it better or easier? Then open with that.

What Can They Identify With?

How you do that depends on your personal style. It might be in the form of a little story about how you overcame a problem they can identify with.

Or if you’re a direct sort of presenter, it might be as simple as: “In the next 30 minutes I’m going to show you how to stop stationery pilferage forever.”

Whatever approach you take, you should memorize it so you don’t have to break eye contact.

You might have noticed this post opens with a direct appeal to your self-interest, otherwise fickle readers will be off to check out Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter after paragraph 1. Thanks for reading this far.

Hot Tip To Increase Productivity

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


Pic: Ted Percival

Here’s a lucrative new business opportunity: internet-free cafes.

I’m in the middle of writing some ads and a web site, and I need to concentrate.

But before I do that I’ll just check the email. Whoah, international swine flu plague! Better check the news to see if that’s going to stuff plans to travel to swine flu hotspots like America in a month or so. And, hey, a Facebook notification about new shots of the tiny nieces. Cute! While I’ve got the browser open may as well check the blog web stats. Ponder the irony of a Twitter-sceptic post lifting visitor numbers to record levels – because it was picked up via Twitter! Thanks Collis! And… oh. When did the sun go down?

The office, with bandwidth on tap, is now the enemy of productivity.

At least our office is, because we’re too small have a fun-blocking corporate firewall or an IT department to spy on us.

And so to a café. Damn, a powerful wireless signal! Must… not… look. Well, maybe a quick browse for ‘creative inspiration’. Hours lost, progress: nil.

This morning, took refuge in a secret coffee lair with no wireless. Just me and my unconnected ‘typewriter’.  Locked the Blackberry in the car. Nailed all deadlines and wrote this post in under an hour. I am Captain Productivity!

I think there’s going to be a market for nice places you can go to be connectivity-free and get some damn work done.

Think of the benefits: you’re totally free to think, plan, calculate, plot or whatever it is you get paid for. You could even talk to people analog-style, using voices and ears and other old-school tools.

And as a bonus, you won’t have Bluetooth earpiece’n’Skype man at the next table talkin’ deals, and that has to be worth something.

Five Thoughts On Your Twitter Strategy

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

You can’t always write about presentations, so welcome to Off-Topic Sunday!

Since every blog in the world suggests you need a personal or corporate Twitter strategy, here are five things to consider before you do.

1. Ashton Kutcher
This week, he beat CNN to be the first to have a million followers. So the global showpiece of the Future of Communication is a stream of random thoughts from a man-boy actor best known as cougar bait.

2. Stephen Fry
In any medium, he’s one of the funniest, most interesting people in the world. Now he’s hammering out this kind of thing:

Mmm. shall go for walk and clear poor fuddled head. Luncheon would be welcome too.

If Twitter can make Stephen Fry that pedestrian, what could it do for you or I?

3. CB Radio
Those with a long memory might remember what happens when people decide to broadcast every thought via amusing new technology. How far did that advance the human cause, Good Buddy? And will there be a Twitter movie starring Burt Reynolds?

4. Basic Economics
Lesson 2 in high school economics was the Supply Curve, which showed that as the quantity of something on offer approaches infinity, its value approaches zero.

The people who run the Olympics understand this. The people who run international cricket don’t.

Now that everyone in the world has the tools to tell you what they’re thinking about having for dinner, what do you think that information is worth?

5. Twewbies
I read today that new Twitter users are known as Twewbies. Twewbies! As if the word ‘tweets’ wasn’t infantile enough. If you’re willing to say twewbies, or even think it, that’s all the proof you need that a 140 character limit has shrunk your word skills and attention span to toddler level.

But if you insist on more proof, check out this Twitter Lord banging on about how brands must Take Note of his personal opinions on McDonalds and yogurt. At first I thought it was a genius piece of satire in style of The Office, but no, he’s real.

Via David Murray