Speaking: Your Slides != Your Talk

Slides are the supporting structure for your talk, not the main event. Speak the meaty and informative portion of the presentation out loud and use slides as a backdrop to set either the emotional tone or reinforce the message that you are trying to convey.

Obama and Social People

For example, I love using this image of Obama in Berlin as a backdrop when I talk about the growth of social data over the last several years. In this image every single person has a device and is generating their own data about their shared social experience. The content of the image supports what is otherwise a fairly abstract statement, and you can feel the excitement of the crowd, boosting the excitement that I want to share about the possibilities of social data.

This is a particular style of slide design will fail for situations where “the Powerpoint” will be shared independently of the talk, and it’s not appropriate for all content, but it is a ton of fun when you can get away with it and uses people’s expectations about what they are going to see (a speaker and some slides) to create a more compelling experience.

This article is part of my series of speaking hacks for introverts and nerds. Read about the motivation here.


Hey Yahoo, You’re Optimizing the Wrong Thing

I was visiting my grandparents yesterday, and my grandfather asked for help e-mailing an article to some of his friends. I asked him to show me how he normally writes an e-mail, and taught him the magic of copy and paste (it is amazing if you haven’t seen it before) but I noticed that in the course of sending an e-mail and checking on his inbox, he clicked on this ad three times.

When I asked about it, he didn’t realize he had clicked the ad — he just thought these screens popped up randomly — because he didn’t realize that his hands were shaking on the trackpad.

I’m sure the data says that that’s the optimal place on the screen for the ad. I’m sure tons of people ‘click’ on it. I’m also sure it’s wrong, and it results in a terrible experience.

It’s common sense, but experiences like this are great reminders that data only takes us so far, and creativity and clear thinking are always required to find the best solutions.

Yahoo, please fix this!