Inspiration: Jason Fried on Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work

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At TEDxMidwest, Jason Fried presented “Why work doesn’t happen at work.”  He compares a work day to sleeping (Source).  His tremendous ideas really do allow us to redefine what work is and where work takes place.  The real problems, Fried says, are the M&Ms: managers and meetings.

I can only do work at home when I’m by myself.  I read 8 books at a time on presentation at home in total silence.  I create slideshows at home while listening to music.  I practice my delivery with my PhotoBooth camera sitting on the living room couch.  Home.  Alone.

Thankfully, I teach.  While I’m at work, I’m communicating all of this information I’ve prepared at home in the classroom setting.  Unfortunately, I am also required to conduct office hours.  I say “unfortunately” because I must physically be present in an office.  I can’t help students while sitting in a chair in an office miles away from them.  I can’t prepare for my next class because people constantly interrupt my creative process by talking to me or each other.  I most certainly don’t grade.  Grade in the office?  Impossible.  No Talk Thursday, as Fried proposes, would be AMAZING in my line of work.

Jason Fried is the founder of 37signals.  Follow him on Twitter here.  He is the co-author of Rework, a book about succeeding in the workplace.  Read Fried’s TED biography here.

What is the culture of your office?

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Alignment and Grids: Delivery Workshop

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This morning, Chiara Ojeda of Tweak Your Slides discussed alignment and using grids to make your slides more structured, clear, and beautiful.  Since Chiara referenced my Delivery Workshop, I thought I’d share three slides that display the principles she refers to.

First, I use Keynote’s “shapes” tool to lay out the exact placement of the images.  Next, I add text.  I play around with font size and weight in order to perfectly fit all that I need on the slide.  This particular font is called Komika Axis.  Last, I drag and drop the image (typically saved onto my desktop) right over the “shape” I made (in this case, a rectangle).  Keynote’s “mask” or “masking” feature allows me to change the size of the image to fit into that shape.

An extra feature I added for these particular slides was the opacity feature in Keynote.  Since these slides are the “Connect” portion of my Delivery Workshop, and since “Connect” is comprised of three separate sections – “P.U.N.C.H.,” “Presence,” and “Projection,” I used the same slide three times.  I used opacity to “fade” two of the three images.  This allowed the image I am presently covering to be brighter.

Image Credit for P.U.N.C.H.; Presence; and Projection

Click here to read Chiara’s original post: Tweak Your Alignment: Governing With Grids.

How do you use alignment and grids in your own slideshows?  What tips do you have on alignment?

Image of the Day: ashour rehana

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November’s images of the day all included a picture of a white bowl.

When I thought about the month of November, I immediately thought of Thanksgiving. For my family, Thanksgiving is all about eating.  The idea of the bowl came from me imagining myself filling up bowls upon bowls with greens, cornbread, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, stuffing, and other delicious Southern food.

The color white often symbolizes peace, innocence, and purity, and these feelings remind me of childhood.  I liked the idea of eating with family and being overcome with nostalgia, so the color of the bowl comes from going back home and feeling like a kid again.

Here’s our last Image of the Day for November by ashour rehana.

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What images make you feel the spirit of November?

Delivery: Two Must-Nots

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Today, I presented our Delivery Workshop for the course I’m teaching this month: Professional Communication and Presentation.  Based upon Garr Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter text and philosophy, I realized that two key must-nots are being repeated again and again in presentations and classrooms.

First, we must never turn the lights out during our presentations.  With the lights off, the star of the presentation then becomes your slideshow.  Nancy Duarte explains that your slides are the digital scenery behind you; they should never be the focus of the entire presentation.

In The Naked Presenter, Garr Reynolds explains, “The audience is interpreting meaning based upon the verbal (your actual words), the vocal (your voice), and the visual (your nonverbal language)” (88).

Remember that the point of your presentation is to make a connection with and to engage your audience.  If your audience cannot see you because the lights are turned off, they will not be able to connect with you, and you will not be able to engage them.  In fact, turning the lights down often inspires feelings of sleepiness, boredom, and disintrest.

Exception: When you are showing a multimedia, turning the lights off works just fine.  During a video clip, the focus is the video.  You aren’t trying to talk over the multimedia, so your role as a presenter is to stand back and let the film play.  In this case, lights-off is acceptable.

Second, we must not have music playing throughout our presentations.  This is troubling most often for my online presentation course, but it does apply to live presentations, too.

Your audience cannot process the music, the lyrics in the song, and your words simultaneously.  Remember to introduce the tune and/or speak after the music concludes.  Even if your music contains no lyrics, remember that there is competition between you and the audio.  This approach is discordant because it causes confusion and dissonance.

Think about the signal versus noise ratio.  The signal is your message, and the noise is the background music (or muzak).  Since you want high signal (priority given to the message) and low noise (few distractions from your message), the focus should be on your voice.

Exception: If you are playing an audio clip that is relevant to your visual presentation, music is fine!  However, again, do not try to speak over the audio clip.

Learn more about Garr Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter here and here.

Source: Reynolds, Garr.  The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides.  Berkeley, CA: New Riders, 2010.  Purchase Reynolds’ book here.

Inspiration: Choice

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In the past, I’ve posted RSA Animate videos based upon Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigms speech and Iain McGilchrist’s discussion of the divided human brain.  This week, let’s take a look at another terrific animated video from Professor Renata Salecl.  The video is called “Choice,” and Salecl examines why choice causes anxiety, guilt, and – paradoxically – indecision as opposed to freedom.

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Since we are facing an election year, I think Salecl’s speech is really important.  If she’s arguing that choice prevents social change, what in the world are we going to do about the terrifying conditions we’re in?

Salecl’s powerful content makes us take a closer look at capitalism.  Our American economic system is praised because people have the power and freedom of choice; it’s a great thing!  But if we feel worse about ourselves when we make a choice, I wonder if there is some merit to eliminating all of these choices we have.  As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his TED Talk (you must watch it here), do we really need 6,000 different jars of spaghetti sauce in the grocery store?  We’ll never be happy with the one we picked!  Look at our divorce rate (nearly 50%) compared to cultures with arranged marriages… Now, I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t be free to marry the person we’re in love with, but we’re never satisfied with that husband or wife because we’re never satisfied with our choice.  There’s always something better out there.

Can we ever learn to make ourselves happy with our choices?  Is capitalism to blame?  What are your thoughts on Salecl and Gladwell’s ideas on the power of choice?

In The News… Links of the Week

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Twitter provides me with a wealth of information on a daily basis, so I thought I’d start bookmarking each week’s most incredible news and articles.  Check out last week’s Links of the Week here.  This particular collection of good reads includes beautiful fonts for the minimalist designer, four retro social media posters, interesting company logos, and visual resume samples.

Today, SlideShare Tweeted the link for “30 Sleek Fonts for Your Minimalist Designs.”  Each font was shown (along with weights… if applicable) along with a sample slide utilizing said fonts.  My favorite was Quicksand developed by Andrew Paglinawan and presented so beautifully in white on a light blue background.  Others to check out include Tall Films, Diavlo, and Edition.  Which of these sleek fonts is your favorite?

I found these funny (and completely free!!) social media posters depicting Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Skype.  Click here to see and download them for your own personal use.  Thank you Pintrest!  Because of your awesomeness, this link fell into my lap.  I am including the Twitter poster below for your enjoyment.  Don’t you love all four?

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Since I discovered the arrow in FedEx, I’ve been obsessed with studying famous logos.  Nikki Smith-Morgan from Public Words Tweeted “25 Famous Logos With Hidden Images,” and I spent an hour pouring over the flawless designs of companies such as Northwest Airlines, the London Orchestra, and – my personal favorite – The Pittsburgh Zoo.  Who knew so many logos incorporated optical illusions into their company name?

I teach Professional Communication and Presentation, and the course concludes with a visual resume project.  Once again, those awesome folks at Public Words linked me to “20 Creative Resume Designs That Will Amaze Any Potential Employer.”  Check the site out here.  All of these are incredibly creative, but I loved #5 by Chuckdlay the most.  Can you believe these visual resumes?!  I need to step it up around here.

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