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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Presentations : Form & Substance

In the November edition of HBR, senior editor Gardiner Morse has an excellent piece - a brief forethought on “information graphics”. Morse takes on the circle and arrow drawing brigade influence in business circles to demonstrate the process and flow sequence. He writes,"Business communications are lousy with circle-and-arrow diagrams that range from the dumb to the deceptive". Morse eggs on presenters, readers and listeners to examine clearly next time when you find yourself preparing a circle for presentation, ask yourself if the process that you are describing really works the way you say it does and turning his attention to readers and listeners, the next time when a presenter touts a circle to make a point, find the bogus link and put him on the spot.

Well – personally speaking, I am not a great fan of jazzy slides/presentations- I get to see hundreds of them – they are in a make-believe world – trying to outdo each other. In this world of digital interruption characterized by continous partial attention where clearly user experience management is a quality and not a discipline, we are all conditioned to think that Jazzy graphics in slides are better than meet and depth. I have seen innumerable CEO’s struggling with content and presentation linkages in slides while under preparation – still persist with Jazz and animation to provide the rich experience to audience.One of the recent presentation that I liked is this from Steve Jobs. I personally find the Lessig method attractive with emphasis centered on:
- Simplicity & sophistication characterizing the slide content
- Emphasis on readability as against background artistries.
- Built in punchlines for good communication across, emphasis on ideas.

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