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January 13, 2011 / marden928

Time management for presentation creation

Many think that the biggest challenge in preparring the perfect presentation is the content and the time.  But I’m going to argue it’s time management.  Many folks figure that once their content is down (and typically in rough form), that the heavy lifting is done.  Yay!  The designers, editors, event producers and printers will take care of the rest.  And do they need much time?

That my dear readers, depends on how polished and awesome/complicated you want your presentation to look in its final form.  I don’t know how many times I’ve said “Well, if we had time, we could do your vision, but alas, this is our reality now, you can have this much more simple version instead or just a general clean up and some simple editing, OK?”  And then after the presentation, some of the presenters say a lot of things like “I think it went really well, but alas some of my visuals weren’t quite what I wanted.”  There are some very simple things you can do to avoid this situation and rule your next presentation:

  • Bring in the experts from the beginning.  Tell them your vision and ask them how much time they’d need to execute.  If you don’t have that much time, discuss alternatives.
  • Now that you know how much time you will need, set  up your time line – working backwards from your presentation date.  I suggest this order for scheduling:  Time of presentation, time that organizers need your presentation, time that printers need your presentation, time that designers need your presentation, time that the video producers need to create/edit/convert/upload your videos, time that editors need your presentation, time you need to get sign-off form key stakeholders along the way. time you need to get any data back.  That time in between is how much time you have to write.
  • Do your animations/video inserts last.  They take time to do and can be complicated – save yourself some time later and avoid redoing them constantly.
  • Do not forget underestimate your stakeholder buy-in time and DO NOT be shy about letting them know the time you need to take it all away from them.  Schedule rehearsals with them before you loose your designer because you need to go to print – edits always happen after/during a rehearsal.  If you are tight on time, bring your designer and editor into your rehearsal for on the spot help.  Realize that more complicated requests (like say a mock-up, which may be sent off to another designer) needs time to execute.
  • Plan for your worst-case scenarios.  If it can go wrong, some of it very well might.  What are your last minute file sending options?  What about a back up printer?  Do you have all of the right equipment you need?  (dongles, cords, projectors, clicker, batteries, sound, music, etc)  Ask your experts what they suggest you plan for.  If you’ve planned these things out, you’ll be a lot calmer and more likely to give a better presentation in case something does happen.

Yeah, this all seems like a lot – but if you go through these steps, you’ll have a better presentation.  Not only because you planned, but because you gave your experts space to do what they need to do so they can help you shine!  And after you’ve done a more thorough planning process more than once, it will feel like clockwork.

Happy Presenting!

January 6, 2011 / marden928

Quick tips for getting a lap deck ready for projection

It’s the beginning of the year.  The economy is getting a bit better.  Everyone is buzzing around and getting lots done.  Thoughts are flying everywhere!  At times like these, it’s almost impossible not to put too much information on your page.

But of course, we all want to be good communicators and not overwhelm our audience.  What to do in such prolific times?  Well dear reader, in classic Martha-style, I’ve got a nice little checklist for you to start the process with:

  • First things first, up your font size to legible for your audience – it will give you a guideline for how much needs to be cut
  • Are you really talking about 2 major topics?  It takes just as much time to talk about 2 topics on one page as it does to talk about 2 topics on 2 pages. Go ahead and make those 2 pages!
  • Ask yourself what you should be speaking to instead of writing down.  Anything in circles, after arrows can go!
  • Shorten any and all full sentences into quick phrases – your text is a placeholder for your talk, not the end all be all.  You’re not conducting a read-along, after all!
  • Ask yourself what could be replaced with pictures instead – if there’s one central theme or emotion you want to convey, then maybe you can replace all your text with a well selected image.  If need be, add a couple words on the screen to highlight
  • Should you be replacing text or charts with a data-driven or conceptual chart?  Is it a process?
  • Do you have too many data-points?  If the last 5 years is what’s interesting, you don’t need to show data for the last 20.

This checklist won’t solve all of your page-to-presentation needs, but should get you started!

Happy editing!


January 4, 2011 / marden928

New Years resolutions: infographic

Following the wonderful idea of my friends over at ImageThink, I’m posting up my visual professional aspirations for the year.  What are yours?


December 10, 2010 / marden928

Tips for holiday speeches

A the latest IGNITE NYC Holiday Party, my thoughts were requested on talking points for the holiday thank you comments. That got me thinking about holiday speeches at general and I’d like to share my list of quick tips with you:

1. Keep it short and sweet – holiday parties are about partying, let your guests get back to their drinks.
2. Don’t be afraid to use humor – holidays are fun, not serious. Don’t be afraid to throw in some jokes.
3. Be sentimental – this is the time of year of sappy commercials for a reason, people are evaluating their lives and want to celebrate their accomplishments, friends and colleagues
4. Be grateful – call out some of the amazing things that folks in the room have done for you or your organization
5. Don’t forget to thank any sponsors – Who doesn’t like a sponsor? Give them their marketing!
6. Raise that glass – holiday speeches are like toasts, raise your glass to your attendees! Spread the love!
7. Keep serious content for serious times – schedule another event or meeting for any heavy content.

And with that, I hope you are also enjoying your holiday party season! I raise my coffee cup to you!

October 20, 2010 / marden928

Visual Communications for good

And hopefully this project will end up in GOOD 🙂

Among the 12 million things I’ve been working on as of late (alas not my blog as much 😦 ), I’m part of a do-gooder project with Digital Democracy.  Basically, they go around the world to disaster areas and help the people out with tech devices.  They care about innovation, people, technology, good communications and well, keeping their soul.  Essentially, a dream project.

The specific project we’re working on is helping to get funding for a project to benefit women in Haiti.  Right now, there are 1000 refugee camps and only 6 of them have police (who are kinda corrupt anyway).  Couple that with the fact that rape has been legal in Haiti until 2005 and what do you get?  Yup, a bunch of awesome Haitian girls and ladies terrified to function.  That means avoiding school, not going to the bathroom, not leaving their cramped tents at night, etc because their afraid of getting attacked.

Enter Digitial Democracy with the awesome techno ninja (wait, they said they do techno jujitsu skills to help them have simple things like lighting and the knowledge of technology to help report and avoid being attacked.  If only they had an army of muay thai instructors to teach these women as well 🙂

More to come on this awesome project as it develops!  In the meantime, their awesome write-up!

October 12, 2010 / marden928

Gap logo switch a mess

Everyone is talking about the GAP logo switch and switch back to the original. I’ve read all sorts of comments in other media: PSFK, PR Daily News, Ragan, etc etc etc. The opinions seem to fall into a few camps:

  • Yes crowd source logo information
  • Holy crap that font sucks
  • Logos should be a reflection of an overall brand reset
  • It must have been a publicity stunt

Publicity stunt or not, the idea of crowd sourcing a logo makes my skin crawl a little bit.  The best logo design is in fact based on an overall brand positioning.   A CEO and CMO should know what they want their brand to stand for.  If they want help with that, they should get help from brand strategists.

Should their consumers be part of that?  Like a good presentation, no.   I don’t think they should central direction – otherwise it won’t be genuine.  That should come from the company (just like your messages should come from you as a speaker).

Opinions and feedback from their consumers a good idea?  Definitely.  It’s good to know your audience and to ensure that their needs are being met by your messaging/brand positioning/consumer offerings.

So, what should GAP do now?

A real brand, including store and online offerings after some serious consumer segmentation research (audience analysis is a critical thing after all).  They should also really figure out what they want the GAP to stand for from their end – at this point, they seem uber confused.  Eager for a brand refresh, but sans direction – they should under-go some corporate therapy and really figure it out before the next logo redesign.

And they really shouldn’t use that font again.  Ick!

September 21, 2010 / marden928

Fast Company visual of the day

I totally love how visualizations are becoming more mainstream! Bless the world for finally acknowledging that a huge percentage of people follow the visual learning modality (I’ve heard anywhere from 20-70% if counting partial/blended learning styles). So, with that known, it doesn’t surprise me that Fast Company has a daily visualization on their homepage. In the upper right hand corner, no less!

Anyway, I point out today’s edition because it strikes me how good visualizations can be both informative and artful. Don’t these maps remind you of pointilism? (I also find it interesting that I’ve lived in at least 2 of the more mashed up racial areas in the midst of the seas of white people – Brooklyn and suburban MD, cool! Thanks for the confirmation, yo!)