Build a Memory Palace to Lose the Crutch – Part VI

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 25th, 2008
2008
Jun 25

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

 

 

The next video on the memory palace technique comes from MemoryConsulting.com . In this short video, James Jorasch and Chris Harwood go through an example of using the memory palace technique to memorizing the key point of a speech on global warming. Chris and James use the name "Roman Room" instead of memory palace, an alternate name based on the popularity of this technique with ancient Roman orators.

 

 


[flashvideo filename=http://memoryconsulting.com/flv/RomanRoom.flv /]


 

 

In the second video,James  and Chris review the link method. This is also good review of creating vivid, outrageous multi-sensory action scenes. I use this technique for memory points of a presentation as well, and sometimes combine the memory palace and link method together.

 

 


[flashvideo filename=http://memoryconsulting.com/flv/LinkSystem.flv /]


 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Best Bad Tech Speakers Video…Ever

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Mar 16th, 2008
2008
Mar 16

 

I have been meaning to post this one for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it until now. A group of speakers at the Microsoft Mobile and Embedded DevCon in 2007 apparently got together to make a gag video of the worst technical speaking they have seen. They are very convincing in their dreadfulness….:)

 

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZOL878CwfM]

 

I love "Command Line Driven Flux Capacitation" and "I am the PMD of CPE for MCB of the END division". Some technical speakers use so many acronyms you can just see the eyes of the audience glaze over. Stage hypnotists are not nearly as effective at putting an audience in a deep trance as someone who feels compelled to use an tech acronym every 15 seconds.

 

Unfortunately, I have seen Visio drawings on slides with as many (and more objects) as the "System Diagram v2". The next to last guy made me laugh out loud when he said "I am really excited" in the most monotone and flat voice I have ever heard (with his arms tightly crossed). I have been in week long meetings where 90% of the presenters where exactly like this guy.

 

The sad thing is, if you did not know this was a gag video, you could easily see this happening at a technical conference. Enjoy the video…

 

 

 

 

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PowerPoint Power Tips

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Mar 16th, 2008
2008
Mar 16

 

Here are two powerful tips for making more effective use of PowerPoint when you use it to support your presentations -

 

  1. Presenter’s View – PowerPoint has had a Presenter’s View for several years. The PowerPoint Development team has improved this tool a great deal in PowerPoint 2007. Here is how this feature is described at Office Online
  2.  

    • You can use thumbnails to select slides out of sequence and create a customized presentation for your audience.

    • Preview text shows you what your next click will add to the screen, such as a new slide or the next bullet in a list.

    • Speaker’s notes are shown in large, clear type so that you can use them as a script for your presentation.

    • You can darken or lighten the screen during your presentation and then resume where you left off. For example, you might not want to display the slide content during a break or a question and answer (Q and A) period.

     

     

    This can be a very useful feature. Many speakers swear by this feature. Despite the ability to see your slides notes and upcoming slides, it is very important that you do not use this feature to increase your dependency on PowerPoint as a crutch.

     

  3.  ZoomIt -Zoomit is a fantastic tool for use with slide presentation, especially when you need to zoom into visuals, screen shots, videos, or demos. The developer, Mark Russinovich (of Sysinternals fame for those in the computer industry) describes ZoomIt like this -

 

ZoomIt is screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations. ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image. I wrote ZoomIt to fit my specific needs and use it in all my presentations.

ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows and you can use pen input for ZoomIt drawing on tablet PCs.

 

I found a great ZoomIt overview video on YouTube. This video is made by Alik Levin at PracticeThis.

 

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jMLAF-9ACk]

 

 

If you have any great power tips for PowerPoint, please post them in the comments or sent me an email form the Contact page above.

 

 

 

 

 

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