On Brainstorming and Presentations

We all hang on to this romanticised idea about how brainstorming works, usually in teams. It's when the brilliant and most creative minds of an organisation come together to think deeply about a problem and come up with new ideas and solutions. How could this not work?

Debra Kaye mocked this idealised notion of brainstorming in her talk at the Creativity World Forum in Kortrijk, Belgium recently with a slide that demanded "Stop Brainstorming".

    

Keep Calm and Carry On

When you get up in front of an audience to present, you have to be prepared for things to go wrong. But having a Plan B for possible technical problems is not enough; you also need to have the right mindset to handle problems.

On more than one occasion I've seen speakers lose their cool when they ran into technical problems. Guess what? Complaining about the problem, cursing, or blaming the organisers of the event will not make the problem go away. But you risk losing your audience, too. Initially, the audience will be sympathetic when they realise that you're having a problem - they didn't come to see you fail! But it's your responsibility now to make the best of the situation. Complaining and stating the obvious will only put off your audience - the biggest support you'll have at that moment. Don't make that mistake.

    

Customise Your Intro

I had the pleasure of seeing Guy Kawasaki live on stage for the first time a few days ago at the Creativity World Forum in Kortrijk, Belgium. I have read some of his books and seen recordings of some of his talks before, so it was interesting to see what, if anything, he would do differently for this talk. In that respect, I was disappointed - it was pretty much exactly what I had come to expect. But then again you have to applaud him for consistently giving talks that are a good mix of entertainment and insights.

Since he was talking to creatives and people who have to pitch their ideas, he also included a short section on how to present more effectively. In addition to his well-known 10-20-30 rule (10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 pt font), he also recommended to customise the introduction of your talk.

    

Presentation Zen Studio 2014

Storytelling is an important part of any presentation. There's also quite a hype around storytelling these days; you see it used in all sorts of environments, from advertising to branding your own company. On the one hand, that's a good thing, since it shows that storytelling is on to something - it works. On the other hand, the hype could potentially cause people to turn away from it or ignore it, assuming that, as so many things that have been hyped before, it will be dead and replaced with something else in a few months.

Storytelling was also the main topic of the Presentation Zen Studio in Paris this year; but the participants agreed that there's more to it than just a hype. Storytelling is, in fact, a very very old technique and it won't become irrelevant anytime soon, even if (or once) the hype machine moves on.