Category Archives: Presentation Skills

InfoComm International Presentations Council Webinar

May 7, 3pm-4pm EDT, SmartSound’s Stephanie Joyce joins us to demonstrate the new features of Sonicfire Pro 5. This is the latest release as well as a new Final Cut plug-in just launched at NAB. Join us to discuss practical applications and basic copyright issues of custom music in the AV world. More about SmartSound here.
InfoComm 2009

Title: SmartSound Sonicfire Pro5 Demonstration
Date: Thursday, May 7, 2009
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

The Complexity Paradox

I have a bit of advice for any presentation professionals out there who might be listening. It could help you explain to a client, or potential client, why you are so vitally important–or, maybe reinforce your career decision. The next time you face a skeptic who is not sure you are worth the money, or is not resonating to your brilliant ideas, tell them to consider the complexity paradox.

When they say they’ve never heard of it, which they will because they haven’t, explain to them that the complexity paradox is one of the defining attributes of our modern world. Go ahead, lay it on thick. Tell them that it is a phenomenon well-understood by few and poorly addressed by most. They should be hooked by now, so lean back in your chair, look professorial, and say, “Increasing complexity demands increasing simplicity.

Before they have time to respond with “ah”, “oh” or “hunh?” expand your explanation by telling them that the more complex a system becomes, the simpler the processes for understanding it must be. If they still aren’t with you, whip out a few pithy examples. Explain how we frequently use metaphors to reduce the difficult complexity of one thing by directly comparing it to the familiar simplicity of another. All the world’s a stage. Love is a flower. War is Hell. There goes the ballgame.

Point out how in the hands of a professional simple images can convey complex messages with vivid clarity. That is what charts, graphs and diagrams do when they are well designed. Remind them that physicists and engineers routinely reduce vastly complex equations into simple animations in order to grasp what is happening. The greater the complexity, the simpler the visualization required. You might also explain how psychologists and biologists are trained to identify simple patterns in order to understand complex behaviors. The list goes on. By now they should have the point.

Close the deal with the statement that you are in the business of addressing the complexity paradox. You make the complex simple so that your clients and their audiences understand faster, make better decisions and take more effective actions.

And be aware the real value of citing the complexity paradox is not that it will make you sound erudite or even that it might get you that job. The real value lies in the fact that the world is getting more complex by the nanosecond, and for presentation pros that reality translates into job security.

PowerFrameworks for Visual Analogies

For those interested in presentation best practices the issue always arises what is the most effective way to avoid stale bullets and sameness in slides.  Inevitably the issue of creativity and resourcefulness leads to the concept of metaphors and analogies – using images or diagrams.  The problem for non-artists or designers like me is where to get the nuts and bolts building blocks of these types of tools.

Recently a colleague, Gene Zelazny, the author of Say It With Charts! put me together with an entrepreneur who has launched an interesting site in this space.  PowerFrameworks is an online gallery of conceptual metaphors in the form of PowerPoint shapes, professionally designed and ready to download into your presentation.  The site also features concrete examples of how the metaphors can be implemented, and even a best practices section mirroring many of Zelazny’s own principles.

Kathy Villela, the site’s founder, actually worked at the consulting firm where Zelazny has worked for decades before beginning this site.  Her concept, and what I like about the site, is that it is more than a gallery of shapes or clip art; it is also well constructed and searchable and mentally stimulating.


Read My Book Online

My new business book about PowerPoint is now available to read online.  “Solving the PowerPoint Predicament:  Using Digital Media for Effective Communication” is not a book specifically about PowerPoint, but the use of the program with third party tools to convey a message for business, academia or religious content.  You can also buy the book on Amazon.


The Wow Factor… Multiple Monitors

I’ve struggled with the dual-screen (multiple) monitor feature in Windows for the past year.  After a coworker showed me this feature on a job I was working, I was anxious to learn how to do it because it looked so cool!  Well I found out that it wasn’t such an easy task…  Continue reading

PC Mag Article on HD Video

For those of you considering a move to HD video in your presentations check out a short and sweet piece in PC Mag “Are You Ready for HD?”  Besides the Sony HD camcorder referred to in the article, I also suggest a look at some offerings from JVC.  Ulead software has a plug in to work with HD content on your desktop but the article mentions the big problems using these gigantic files.  Those who worked with digital video years ago will think they’ve been down this road before.