Demo vs introduction

A live app demo is not the same as an introduction of what your app does. Getting the technology to work, logging in as a dummy user, creating some dummy files, showing some dummy output, changing some settings, quickly going back to the management console, before switching to the user screen. All this shows that the app is real, it exists, the beautiful design, the fast response time, the powerful algorithms. But it is step 2 in the introduction, the audience is missing step 1, the overall context of what problem the app solves, and what it actually does. Time to throw in some good old slides that can get these messages across faster/better than a live demo. Then, fire up the tablet.

What to see at a conference

In this blog post, a developer discusses his criteria to pick from an overwhelming menu of presentations at a conference. Some interesting insights for conference organisers and people invited to speak at a conference.
  • One person is best. Moderated panels are often an excuse for people to fill time about a subject without preparing much. You get a generic questions, provide a fluffy answer. Everybody sits back, relaxes, nobody takes responsibility for the quality of the presentation. One person on the other hand, feels the responsibility to avoid boring the audience.
  • Deep is better than broad. Very generic topics can only scratch the surface. Deep dives on specific issues/problems are much more interesting to watch/listen to.

It reminds them

When confronted with something new, our brains instantly compare what we see, hear, feel, taste with all the 500 million previous experiences we had in our lives. This is why our intuition can say that we do not like/trust the person in front of us, without being able to say why. Apparently, we had bad experiences with these type of characters before somewhere, sometime.

The same is trie for the look and feel of a presentation. If it reminds us of boring experiences we had before, we switch off and anticipate a replay.  A bullet point first slide, a stale clip art image, a cheesy stock photo, all tell-tale signs that what is about to follow is unlikely to be interesting.

There is a positive side to this as well: you can interest your audience, simply by being different. Even if different means that your slides are not very pretty.

App update

Many people are asking me for beta invites for my PowerPoint killer presentation design app. Here is where things stand at the moment. A handful people have been testing the app so far which provided feedback on a few glitches to iron out. The core engine (the concept behind the app) works great (big sigh of relief), there are now some things about workflow flow that needs fixing, so that you can move around faster in the app. Rather than widening the user base who will give me the same feedback, I will fix the obvious issues first.

A self-funded side project, patience please...

The company shareholders

If you are are a company shareholder, it is reassuring to see the shareholdings on the first or second page of the company presentation.

For everyone else, the shareholdings can go somewhere in the back.

Going off script

When you get a question during your presentation, should you abandon your story flow and answer it? It depends.
  • For very large audiences, no. One person’s question does not merit throwing out your carefully crafted story line and potentially confuse the rest of the audience. Answer the question very briefly (“Good point, we use super glue for that, I will get back to it later in more detail”) and move on.
  • For smaller audiences that have seen the material you are presenting before, probably yes. For example a presentation to the partner group of a venture capital firm.
  • In one on one meetings: definitely yes. These meetings are not presentations, they are conversations and you should adjust the story flow based on questions, interruptions of the other person. If there are none, then follow the script, but that is likely going to be a boring meeting.

Presentation startups

Searching Product Hunt for keyword “presentation” gives a treasure full of presentation startup ideas.

How to evaluate a designer

The web is full of freelance presentation designers and full of sample portfolios. How to get a true feel for the style/skills of a designer: go beyond pages 1, 2, or 3, and look at a page somewhere in the middle of the deck. What does the designer do when no one is looking?

Humour in presentations

Jokes can be great ice breakers in presentations. Jokes can also be incredibly awkward when introduced in the wrong meeting, at the wrong time, with an audience who is not ready for them.

Here is my advice: do not hardwire risky jokes into your slides, but rather, keep the option to tell them verbally. If the mood is right, go for it, if the audience vibe is not right, you can bail out at the very last moment.

Borat bathing suit slides cannot be unseen, even when double clicked really quickly...

The basics

Here is a checklist of basic PowerPoint design skills. If you master these, you are all set to designing great business presentations:
  • Program your company colours in the theme
  • Set default shapes and lines to fit your company colours
  • Delete all slides in a template master until you have just the title page and an empty page left
  • Know how to add text to boxes
  • Know how to make compositions of text boxes (including aligning and distributing them)
  • Know how to crop images (instead of stretching them)
  • Know how to make basic bar and column charts in your company colours
No need to learn anything more...

My facebook page: 2% reach

Facebook is a poor alternative to RSS. Because I am not buying ads, blog posts on the Idea Transplant page reach around 2% of likers. Twitter, RSS, email, are better ways to stay up to date.

This is what I always say...

...when I put up this slide [that says something else...]

Solution: change that old slide to have it say what you want it to say!