Mini Book Review: Drive

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

The book starts out by pointing out an - often overlooked - discrepancy between what companies think are good motivation strategies ("carrot & stick") and what science has found out about them, i.e. that they are not always working and that they may even have the opposite effect. The rest of the book then goes on to explore better ways to encourage employees, students, etc.

Mini Book Review: So What?

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So What? How to Communicate What Really Matters to Your Audience by Mark Magnacca

The author may be overdoing it a bit (So What Method, So What Matrix, So What This, So What That), but the idea as such is valid: Whether you're presenting, want to sell something, or are about to introduce yourself - always think about your audience first.

Mini Book Review: Presentations in Action

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Presentations in Action: 80 Memorable Presentation Lessons from the Masters by Jerry Weissman

The "lessons" in this book are short articles, each concentrating on a single concept, idea or observation. Some are a bit hand-wavy and, especially in the second half of the book, refer to the author's other book and company a bit too often. Oh, and many of the sports and celebrity references probably aren't too well understood outside of the US.

The problem with bullet points (and what to do about them)

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I've carried around this idea about a presentation demonstrating what's wrong with bullet points in my virtual back pocket for a while now. But where exactly would you give such a presentation? I thought about making it a lightning talk, which are now common at regular conferences. But even then you'd risk alienating many of the other speakers when you tell them - even light-heartedly - that their presentation style just plain sucks.

And then Barcamp Stuttgart 4 came along, and with its "anything goes" attitude, it was now or never. An unconference is a good place to pull off something like that. And even if I were to step on a few people's toes, it's less of a problem than at a conference with lots of full-time speakers ...

So here's the content of that presentation (which I deliberately did not put up on Slideshare, since the slides need some explanation):

Any Questions?

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At the end of a presentation, there's usually the question: Any questions? And more often than not, it's followed by - awkward silence.

Now, that doesn't mean that the audience doesn't have any questions. For some reason, people just seem to need a moment to muster up the courage to actually ask a question. So if you're a speaker and you encounter said silence - what can you do? Here's a little trick I learned at a recent conference: