A Whole New Mind and Presentations: Part One

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This morning, I finished Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future for the second time.  This time, the book definitely hit me with a few “Ah ha!” moments, and I enjoyed it much more than I did on the first read.  My dad always tells me you have to read a book at the right time in your life in order to truly get it; and sometimes, you have to read a book more than once.  (Unfortunately, no matter how many times I read Anna Karenina or The Grapes of Wrath, I continue to hate them both.)

Lucky for me, I gave Pink another try because I had an epiphany at the end of A Whole New Mind.  Pink’s six senses apply directly to presentations!  In order to deliver a successful message to an audience, you must consider the design of your visual presentation; the story you weave into your content; the symphony of the parts of the presentation to make a synthesized whole; the empathy for your audience in putting their needs first; the play you incorporate to keep audiences engaged; and the meaning your message holds in fulfilling your audience.

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Design is an integral part of presentations because audiences are sick and tired of the death-by-PowerPoint format.  As soon as someone pulls up a Retro template with entire paragraphs of text on a slide, the audience knows it’s time to pull out their iPhone and check out.  Presentations get a really bad reputation because so many people misuse and abuse the slideshow medium.  Dan Pink offers some great tips to thinking like a designer, and I think they relate directly to designing a stronger visual presentation.

First, Pink explains that it’s important to keep a design notebook.  My suggestion?  Use Pintrest or create a folder on your desktop for successful visual presentations you run across while browsing the Internet.  Knowing what a well-designed slideshow looks like, and keeping track of it, will allow you to better understand how and why design works.  Pink suggests we learn to C-R-A-Pify our design.  A strong slideshow does contain the four basic elements of graphic design: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.  Learn more about these elements in slide:ology, Nancy Duarte’s text on applying graphic design concepts to visual presentation.  Your audiences will thank you!

Next, I will discuss the importance of story, sympathy, and empathy in your presentations by way of Dan Pink’s amazing book A Whole New Mind.  What great things are you learning this weekend?