Presentation Skills Considered Harmful

Presentation Skills Considered Harmful

Kathy Sierra has a wonderful post over on her site about how focusing too much on presentation skills can negatively affect your presentation. And you know what? She’s right.

Presentation skills are all about YOU. What YOU do. What YOU say. How YOU say it. Stage fright is all about YOU. What they think about YOU. What they tweet about YOU. What they tell everyone in your professional community about YOU.

The Big Problem is… YOU.

Or rather, the problem is thinking that what matters in your presentation is you. Because unless you’re a paid performer – musician, comedian, motivational speaker – you are not the reason they came to the conference. They are sitting in your session because of someone that matters far more to them than you: themselves. They are there for their ownexperiences, and “watching you present” is not one of those experiences.

I’ve written and presented so much about focusing on different details of your presentation, these paragraphs smacked me so hard I almost regenerated. Inadvertently (and occasionally purposefully), I’ve advocated the idea that your presentation is about you.

But it’s not.

It’s about your audience.

…Because I am not important. What is important is the experience they have. My job is to provide a context in which something happens for them.

When I stop worrying so much about me as the center-of-attention and more of myself as the vehicle that takes my audience to learning something new, I no longer feel the pressure of having to be perfect.

Still, Kathy includes a small set of basic skills she refers to as Minimum Useful Presentation Skills. In other words, here are some things you should still think about when preparing for a presentation of any kind:

  1. You audience should be able to hear you, so be careful of how fast you talk.
  2. You audience has to be able to see what’s on the screen, so size and contrast are still important.
  3. You audience has to stay awake, so think about pacing and energy.

I think I’ll have some more to say on this topic in the next couple of days, but, for now, go read Kathy’s post. It’s really good.


The Most Powerful Way to End a Presentation

The Most Powerful Way to End a Presentation

To start, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do. You shouldn’t end a presentation with a slide that asks “Questions?” Everyone does and there is nothing memorable about this approach.

Ideally, you should take questions throughout the presentation so that the question asked and the answer given is relevant to the content presented. If you choose to take questions at the end of your presentation, end instead with a strong image that relates to your presentation’s content.


Introducing Pixlr for Mac and PC


Introducing Pixlr for Mac and PCpixlr


Today, we’re quite happy to announce a brand-new app. Pixlr is now available as a downloadable app for Mac and PC. You can install it today at for Mac and Windows, or download directly from the Mac App Store.

If you’re already a Pixlr Express user, you’ll notice some familiar details in Pixlr for Mac and PC. You’ll also discover new tools like a double exposure option and Influence Masks that can be used to not just correct photos but to do more advanced editing or create photographic art. Pixlr for Mac and PC brings together the best tools we’ve built over time, including popular Stylize filters that turn your photos into sketches and watercolor paintings.

Capabilities depend on whether you are using the free account or a pro, which cost $1.99 USD a month or $14.99 USD a year.


The Hidden Structure of the Apple Keynote

The Hidden Structure of the Apple Keynote

One of Apple’s most successful products—which rarely gets recognized as such—is made not of aluminum and glass, but of words and pictures. The Apple keynote is the tool the company uses a few times a year to unveil its other products to millions of people.

To understand their hidden structure, Quartz reviewed more than a dozen Apple keynotes, logging and analyzing key elements. Here’s what we found.
I’ve seldom seen a presentation more polished than an Apple event.