Seven Questions from ethos3

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Aug 6th, 2008
2008
Aug 6

 

Ethos3, the winner of last year World’s best Presentation Contest on SlideShare.net and the driving force behind the recent Presentation Design Tennis, asked me last week to do a blog interview with them.

Here are the Seven Questions -

 

1.  What was the inspiration behind Public Speaking for Geeks?

2.  You obviously have done a lot of public speaking in your 15 years  in the technology field.  What is the greatest public speaking lesson  you have learned thus far?

3.  How important is story as it relates to the world of presentations?

4.  What is your definition of Presentation 2.0?

5.  Who is your favorite presenter?

6.  If you could offer one tip to a person who is opening PowerPoint  for the first time, what would it be?

7.  How important is right-brain thinking in your left-brain industry?

 

 

Follow this link to read "Seven Questions with Barry Flanagan".

 

 

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Five Tips to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Aug 2nd, 2008
2008
Aug 2

 

Fear of public speaking is extremely common. Even the most experienced speakers get nervous. Many beginning speakers are completely overcome with panic and anxiety. This one issue prevents more people from reaching their goal to be an effective speaker than any other in my opinion.

 

Overcoming this fear and panic is key to successfully communicating from in front of the room. If you do not appear confident to your audience, your audience will not likely feel confident in what you have to say. Recent research on mirror neurons suggests that we "we subconsciously put ourselves in the shoes of the person we’re observing and, accounting for relevant differences, imagine what we would desire and believe in that scenario".  If the audience senses your lack of confidence, many may infer the cause is that you do not believe in your own message. This can seriously undermine your message and chances for success.

 

Here are five ways to overcome your fear of public speaking -

 


  1. Be a Boy Scout – The Boy Scouts motto  is "Be Prepared". This is the most obvious method to overcome your fear. As I wrote in the Six Rs of Communication, it is essential to have a well defined result for both you and your audience. Answer the question "What’s in it for me?" for both you and the audience. Use this answer to guide you in your preparation of your visuals and remarks.  After you have created a crystal clear RESULT for your presentation, it is much easier to create your opening and closing, choose your main points, and build your content. Your result is what you want your audience to conclude (and act upon) when you are done. When you start at the conclusion, it is a much simpler task to create your opening, main points, and then tie everything back into that conclusion. 

 

You (and your audience) are much more likely to reach your destination if you know exactly where you are going. With a clear picture in your mind of both your destination and the route to reach that destination, you are much more likely to feel confident. If you do not know exactly where you are going or how to get there, fear of getting lost (and looking foolish or unprepared) is much more likely.

 

     


     2. Own the Room – Prior to your scheduled time to speak, make sure to find time to survey the room where your session will take place. Verify where you can stand and walk, and where you cannot. If you plan to use a flip chart or white board, make sure you know where the markers (and erasers) are. If there is a projector and your are showing Powerpoint slides, test the projector with your laptop. Ensure your your screen resolution works with the projector. Verify you can power on the projector and project your slides on the screen. If you will be using a microphone, ensure it works and that you know how to power it on and off. Do a sound check (especially if there is an AV crew present). The goal here is to eliminate as many surprises as possible. Ensure that you feel comfortable in the space where you have to speak so that you are not distracted by the environment.

     


    3. Work the Room - Whenever possible you should try to meet as many members of the audience as possible. Meet and greet people who will be in the audience and dig down into why there are attending the session. Make sure you really understand their answer to the all important question "What’s in It for Me?". The primary goal here is to have as many friendly faces as possible in the audience. Remove the fear of speaking in front of strangers by minimizing the number of strangers.

    As you become more experienced, this technique can help you take your presentations to the next level. Probe for back ground stories that you can use a part of your session. One or two well told stories that are specifically relevant to the audience will increase both your credibility and rapport with the audience.

     


    4. Breathe like a baby – If you follow the first three tips, your anxiety and fear of public speaking should be greatly reduced. You may still get last minute jitters. I have given well over 700 presentations and I still get jitters. This next technique helps me eliminate those last minute butterflies in my stomach. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to release tension and quickly relive stress and anxiety. "To breathe diagrammatically, or with the diaphragm, one must draw air into the lungs in a way which will expand the stomach and not the chest. It is best to perform these breaths as long, slow intakes of air – allowing the body to absorb all of the inhaled oxygen while simultaneously relaxing the breather."

     

     

     

    I combine this technique with a simple mediation technique I learned many years ago. I place my left hand on my stomach just below my rib cage and breathe in deeply. I push my stomach against my hand to ensure I am using the diaphragm. As I breathe in, I silently count to myself "Ten". As I breathe out, I push my stomach in, expand my chest and count "nine. I breathe in again as I push against my hand with my stomach and count "eight". Then breathe out and count "seven". I  continue this down to one. If I still need to relax further, I slide my hand an inch or two lower on my stomach and start counting down again from ten. I have shared this technique with many others and it has never failed to relax anyone who follows the steps.

     


    5. Use a Royal Entrance – I learned this final technique from a class mate in a presentation class in Dallas many years ago. This technique not only relaxes me, but it invariably puts a smile on my face and pumps me up.

    Just before you get up to speak, imagine a trio of trumpets is playing a royal fanfare for you as if you were a king or queen entering the room. Just play this quickly inside your head. Here is an example -

     

     


    [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkD0MxNY_Bw]

     


     

     

 

With these five techniques you can overcomes that fear of public speaking and transform into a much more confident, capable and successful speaker.

 

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2008
Jul 14

I have created my second entry into the SlideShare.net "World’s Best Presentation Contest‘.

 

 

This entry is a high level overview of why virtualization is the hottest market in IT today. Of course, such a presentation could easily be 200 slides to cover all the relevant reasons to why virtualization gets so much buzz. I chose to focus on the primary points, and keep the overall presentation very high level. I kept my focus on my ultimate result and the audience (which is a very wide range of people, many of whom are not in the tech industry).

 

 

 


 

 


 (Viewed best in full screen mode. You can download a complete version of the presentation in pdf format here. Licensed under Creative Commons Non-Commercial -Share Alike 3.0.)

 

 

 

Here are a  few notes on the creation of this deck and the choices I made in creating the slides. I have found that a review of my thought process in any type of communication helps me improve a great deal in the future.

 

 

 

 First, the choice of the title "The Buzz on Virtualization". My opening to a presentation is typically based on a relevant story or metaphor.  A metaphor or story gives your audience a way to relate to the information in a personal manner, and is much more accessible to a diverse audience.

 

In this presentation I decided to use the "Buzz" metaphor for all the interest in virtualization. I like this metaphor because it evokes the sound of "buzz" and the picture of a bee. If I were presenting this in person, I would add in a sound effect of bees buzzing to the title slide. Whenever possible I try to appeal to multiple senses throughout a presentation, both in the metaphors I choose and the visuals used inside the slides. The widens the appeal to a broader range of people by capturing the interest of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.

 

On each section title slide I added in a picture of a single isolated bee to tie back to the theme of the buzz around virtualization. I also used the opening question again the conclusion. This is a very common structure for a speech or presentation. I have found success in tying in the opening at key points during the presentation and closing the loop at the end.

 

I used graphics extensively (with stock photos from iStockPhoto.com and Sxc.hu among others)  through out the deck. I minimized the amount of text per slide and used the "rule of thirds" (from Garr Reynolds "Presentation Zen" ) whenever possible.  Garr’s book is an essential resource to anyone who regularly builds slide presentations.

 

The primary font used is Arial black, a san serif based font. San serif fonts are much more readable on a presentation than serif fonts. Green is the primary font color. There are two reason I selected green. First, "going green" is a popular idea inside IT today. "Going green" is about reducing carbon emmisions and energy use, and aligns well with the idea of reducing energy costs with virtualization. Another image evoked by "green" is money. Since ultimately the biggest initial driver of virtualization in any company is saving money, I decided green was very appropriate for the font color.

 

The back ground I chose for this deck is black. All of the early drafts of this deck had a white background. That is the corporate standard at my company and one with which I am most familar. Most of the stock photos I used for the deck are isolated on a white background, so that was a natural choice. Garr and many others recommend a black background with a light colored font. I resisted this initially due to my familiarity with the white background and the stock photos. I have used black before but I was reluctant to in this case because of the difficult in editing th white background of the images.

 

I changed my mind after a trip to the grocery store this weekend. I saw a woman wearing a "Coke" t-shirt. The shirt was black the "enjoy Coke" on the front. "Coke" was in bright white letters and each letter of "enjoy" in a different light color (orange, light red, pink, etc…).  As soon as I saw the shirt I began to pay more attention to advertisements and other shirts I saw while I walked in the store. I found that the most compelling ads and shirts all had dark backgrounds and lightly colored text. By the time I got home I decided to change to the background.

 

 

I think this slide presentation communicates the message very well. I also feel that the content is much more memorable in this format than the typically text and bullet heavy format of most presentations in the software industry. It will be interesting to see what response (if any) this slide presentation receives from the extremely diverse audience at slideshare.net.

 

 

Please post feedback in the comments.

 

 

 

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Build a Memory Palace to Lose the Crutch – Part III

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 21st, 2008
2008
Jun 21

(Read the earlier posts in this series here and here.)

Anyone can create their own memory palaces to quickly store and retrieve a wide variety of information or to remember the key points and examples of a presentation or speech..

 

1) – Pick a Palace – Choose a very familiar place (or path or journey) for your memory palace. Your current home is often a great choice for your first memory journey as you learn the technique.

 

2) – Choose a Path – Choose a starting point that you will use for all memory journeys. This can be the front door, the northern most room of the first floor, the largest entrance – what point you select try to stick to that tpe of start for all memory journeys. Decide which direction you will follow from that starting point and how you will proceed from there. If you are able to use a similar starting point and path for every memory journey, it will be much simpler to get started. As you grow more comfortable with this technique, you can use each room of a building to store multiple images. A single wall or an object within a room can become a storage location for a memory. For pi memorization, I use 10 locations in each room (four walls, ceiling, floor, (three walls in closet and closet ceiling). Since each visualization in the Dominic System represents four digits, I can store 40 digits of pi in my college apartment bedroom.

 

3) – Create the images – This step is much easier if you have taken the time to learn the Dominic System. But that is not absolutely required. Create an action scene for the info you need to remember. Make a picture in your mind of whatever the info is, and find every association you can imagine related to those associations.  Ensure their is movement and sound at a minimum. To lock this image in, use outrageous, comical or offensive action. The visualization must be memorable on its own and stand out from all the other images you collect daily. Add in smells and tastes where possible.

 

4) Lock it In – Play the memory journey through your mind in your spare moments. While you are on hold for a call, driving in the car, brushing your teeth or waiting in line, walk through your new memory palace and call up each visualization. A few minutes a day will help you lock those images inside your memory palace.

 

The metaphor I use for a memory palace is a technical one – the master file table on your computers hard disk. Your operating systems keeps a map of all location available on the hard drive. Each time data needs to be sorted, the os encodes the data, stores teh data ion available locations ( similar to to selecting a new memory palace) and keep a record of that location  Finally, when the data needs to be retried, the os check the master file table for its location on the disk, finds the data and decodes it.

 

The vivid and outrageous action scenes built on your personal associations is the encoding step. Picking your memory palace and the path inside it for storing memories is similar to finding available locations on the master file table for storage. Checking the master file table for the data location and pulling that data off the hard disk is a retrieval system much the same way returning to the appropriate spot in your memory palace is a memory retrieval.Translating the vivid action scene back into the needed information is like the os decoded the data on the disk.

 

This technique does require practice. The most difficult for many people is learning how to quickly find associations and translate those associations into a memorable and vivid action scene in a short period of time. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. If you spend just 3-5 minutes a day working on learning this memory technique, you will inevitably discover with a few weeks that you memory has improved dramatically and that it is much easier for you to recall you presentation topics and examples when you speak.

 

 

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Video, Powerpoint and the Back of a Napkin

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 12th, 2008
2008
Jun 12

A screencast is " a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration."  I completed a screencast recently, and would like to share the final results and the process to create it with the readers of this blog.

 

In my last post here, I wrote about the video coverage project I put together for my company’s annual user conference. This video project went extremely well (despite a few hiccups, especially with wi-fi and cell coverage). In the week after the event, I had to put together a report to share the results with internal employees and with the audience for the Citrix blog

 

On the flight home, I was thinking about the format I wanted to use for the report. I felt that a video about the video coverage was the best way to communicate the results. I dabbeld with the idea of using the Nokia N95 cell phone to do a Qik video, but quickly discarded that notion. The view of my big head adds nothing to a report.

 

I had just finished reading an excellent book called "The Back of the Napkin" by Dan Roam. This was a very eye opening book about the process of using visual thinking to solve problems and communicate ideas. While Dan’s focus in totally on white boarding, it occurred to me that his process applies to any type of visual communication, including powerpoint presentations and screencasts. I resolved to create a screencast of the Synergy Underground results that follows Dan’s model for the types of questions to ask and answer in a visual manner. 

 

In addition to using the visual thinking frame work from "The Back of the Napkin" I used several other techniques that I have discovered during my journey down the road to more effective speaking. As I have written about before, I used a mind map for the outline and included it as the agenda slide. In several slides, I followed the Lessig Method for text. The great majority of the sides were simple visuals which I narrated, consistent with the principles of Garr Reynolds book (and blog) Presentation Zen and the research of Richard Mayer.

 

 

 


 


 

 

I am very pleased with the overall results. This screencast is certainly not perfect and has given me the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons as I reflect on the experience.

 

 

Voice over – The mic I used was not very high quality. I spent a lot of time trying to clean up noise. Camtasia is great for editing video, but I found the audio editing capabilities of my version to be lacking (or at least my knowledge of how to use them). These lessons have been useful in my preparation for the new podcast series I am putting together for Citrix. I have upgraded to a studio quality condenser microphone (an AKG Perception 200 from ebay), an Alesis Multimix USB mixer and a home made "Porta-Booth" to minimize noise. I have also started using Adobe Audition specifically for audio editing.

 

Overall, I am not thrilled with my voice over. My voice was very flat in the beginning. In several places I stumbled as I narrated then slide. Two main factors contributed to my lackluster voice over- insufficient practice and the very late hour when I did the final cut. 

 

Preparation – I spent the lion’s share time trying to get all the other pieces right (the outlines, slides, Camtasia screen recording, etc…). I set a deadline when to finish this, and spent most of the time changing the outline and redoing the slides to fit with the new structure I learned from Dan Roam’s book. Recording the voice over at 2 am was probably not the best choice to maximize the tone and rhythm of my voice. Since I have not done a screencast in some time AND I was using a new framework for the overall structure of the presentation, I should have given myself more time to complete this project.

 

Visuals- I am very pleased with the content of the screencast overall. One issue does stand out however. It is very obvious now that the video is too long. While I did get many questions about how I did the live video streaming from the Nokia N95 cell phone, I can see now that I should have made that into a separate video. That one changed would have cut the length by about 4 minutes.

 

My goal for the over all structure was to follow the "Visual Thinking Codex" from "The Back of the Napkin"  (pg. 141). I chose the relevant  frame work questions and selected one of the recommended visual methods  to answer each question. Mind mapping  this new frame work helped a great deal, but took much more time than expected due to numerous revisions.

 

Using the simple visuals, minimal text and the basic bar charts recommend by Dan Roam for "How many?" questions did help save a great deal of time. Unfortunately, when Camtasia converted the video to wmv or avi format on the first few attempts, there were significant issues rendering the rapid text changes. That issue took an inordinate amount of time to solve.

 

 

 

Despite these issues, I am very happy I went through this process. I learned a lot of important lessons that will help me in the futre. I hope that my writing about this process will help some of you as well.

 

 

My ultimate goal here is to create a repeatable process that allows me to communicate even more effectively.This combination of visual thinking from "The Back of the Napkin", powerpoint and video along with other lessons I have learned in the past are moving me closer to that goal.  I appreciate any feedback you have on the progress to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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