Held up? Time to resource a presentation web library

Turning stuck-time into presentation research time

by Peter Watts

Technology used well can bring extra impact to your presentation.

Take a look at TED and you’ll find people using laptops, tablets, and phones in new ways to help them tell their stories.

The trick to using technology is to reach beyond PowerPoint. Start by watching some TED talks and pick up ideas about how people put digital devices to dynamic use.

On first glance you wonder how these individuals get their ideas. Then you explore and realize that the web is swimming with creative possibilities, and that brings me to the point of this blog.

You can use moments of unexpected downtime to go out there and build your library.

At this precise moment I’m in Johannesburg, sitting in a hotel lobby, and waiting for my hotel room to become available. Housekeeping are currently attempting to wrestle the existing occupant out of it before the cleaners can go in and I can finally take up residence.

The hotel has WiFi. I have my iPhone. In just a short time I’ve been able to find new inspirations on TED, some new resources on YouTube, and a couple of press cuttings that I can build into my South Africa presentations to give my content a fresh feel.

I’ve also located several resources that although not applicable to what I’ll be doing on this trip, I can file away for possible future use.

Once you start to find dynamic new toys to build into presentations, your next goal is to build them into the presentation structure.

Any web-derived resource, such as TEDTalk, will operate in the same way as an anecdote would. Its deployment needs to be planned:

  • How does it support your story?
  • How will you introduce it?
  • How will you integrate it’s message into your presentation once the video has finished?

Once you’ve built the resource into your structure, the next step is to build it into your style. If you’re not used to deploying web resources mid-presentation, take it slowly. Build in a single item and be successful with it. You can scale-up as your competence grows.

Finally, you need to become comfortable with the technology itself, and in particular with downloading the resources from the web directly onto your presentation device. Sure you can always run video live across WiFi, but WiFi has an unfortunate habit of running slowly when you least want it to.

So next time you find yourself with an unexpected delay and an Internet connection, go on a web-hunt and find new ideas.

Ancient Danish monarch: Alive and well in French election

by Peter Watts

Paris is becoming politically plastered. Last-minute election posters are popping up everywhere.

One of them has particularly caught my attention:

“La France Forte Avec Nicolas Sarkozy”
“A strong France with Nicolas Sarkozy”

Sarkozy’s choice of visual metaphor for these closing stages of the campaign has him standing against a backdrop of the ocean; He is the valiant protector, guarding the virtue of the nation. But guarding it against what exactly? With France’s two coastlines being south and west, the threat indicated must lie in one or both of these directions.

The two most likely suspects hinted at must therefore be the economic migrants who cross into France from North Africa, and the “Anglo-Saxon” economic models perceived as crossing from the U.K. and America.

Neither are electorally popular, and to put Sarkozy’s election into context, he faces one election challenger who touts state-sanctioned xenophobia, while the other supports generously old-fashioned state funding for absolutely everything.

These posters suggest Sarkozy is attempting to align himself with both opponents. By representing himself as a stern bastion against the evils from over the waves, he has dived for the basest instincts of the electoral base.

In creating this visual metaphor however, the President’s team have missed it’s most obvious symbolism; King Canute.

Depending on your reading of the legend, King Canute either sought to demonstrate the limits of Kingly power to his awestruck subjects, or truly believed he could command the waves to stop.

In either interpretation, the story didn’t end well.

Does this poster indicate that President Sarkozy is about to get his feet wet?

When choosing visuals, beware the unintended message.

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