Surprise with your presentation, even using technology


Umair Haque at BRITE ’09 conference from BRITE Conference on Vimeo.

I was watching this lecture by Umair Haque from the Brite Conference. It is a very interesting lecture where Haque claims that the creativity of the past is not good enough for the new economy and the new world. This is the second time this week I see an attack on the notion of creativity as we know it (link in Hebrew). I will not attempt to explain what Haque is saying because I am not sure I totally understand it (I really liked some of the examples and really disagree with some others). I will let you see and decide for yourselves. What I want to talk about is the way Haque gives his presentation.

Haque is not a very articulative presenter. The flow of the speech is not consistent. He does not capture the audience with good use of voice, movement or structure. But, one thing stood out -the visual aid he is using. Haque is not using regular PowerPoint presentation slides. Instead, he is using some kind of big flash or java sheet that allows him to “sail” (there is no other word I can think of to describe it) between the different points, magnifying on one point for a second and then moving to another. I never seen anything like it used in a presentation. The constant movement across this sheet, which represents linkage of different ideas, creates not only great repetition of the main ideas but a great sense of understanding of the connections between them.

This got me thinking. My training in presentations comes from the education background. I learned how to speak, present and structure according to the frameworks of education. I find myself struggling many times adapting this “bias” I have when I tried giving different kinds of presentations. When you teach, a lot of your concentration should go to structure and keeping consistency. You don’t use differences and surprises a lot, only when trying to make certain points. In other types of presentations, especially one time presentations, being different, surprising and inconsistent is a great and important tool that should be used throughout the presentation.

Haque’s presentation captivated me even though his regular public speaking skills were not remarkable. Because he used a new and different technological tool. That takes courage, but that also made him special, and made me pay attention closely. This shows that you don’t have to be a great speaker. You can use technology smartly in order to amplify your message. I hope to see more and more new tools that will allow us to create new visual aids that help improve our presentations.


3 Responses to “Surprise with your presentation, even using technology”

  1. Jono Barel Says:

    Presentations. Gotta love ’em, huh?
    It seems that so many of my teachers this year have suddenly remembered they want us to give group presentations as part of the course.
    What’s so frustrating is that all too often — such… innovative… presentations can actually go against peoples’ expectations in a bad way.
    I think I’ll take this post to heart. See if I can pull off something original and surprising.

  2. sherfelad Says:

    Hey Jono,
    I know what you mean. People expectations are so set sometimes, that they will tell you that you did a bad job, even though, you actually did something better. There is actually research to show that the usual way people create presentation (with the bullet points) is not very effective-
    But if enough people will do it enough of the time, we might be able to break this misleading conventional wisdom. I am counting on you to start the trend.

  3. How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days Says:

    Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for posting. I will definitely be coming back to your posts.

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