Sunday, December 9, 2012

Book: Presentation Zen

I'm reading a very good book about how to do great presentations through the use of creativity and approaching their creation from 'beginner's mind' (Zen phrase).  It is a book intended to facilitate dramatic change of dull and boring PowerPoint slide presentations to great and beautiful presentations through simplification, clarity and brevity.

One of the sections I read today comments that restrictions and limitations are not the enemy ~~ they are actually great allies.  The point the author stresses is that those two are what great design develops from and/or how problems are resolved through new and novel design that observes such constraints.

Also as I was reading today, the author recommended a book titled 'If You Want to Write' by Brenda Ueland (first published in 1938) that discusses her ideas of approaching writing, but that applies to most creative endeavors.  One of the ideas in Presentation Zen inspired by her writing, is that it doesn't matter if you are creative or not...but that you shouldn't shut yourself down too early in the process of exploring.  It is important to know failure is fine.  If you don't try, you continue to carry the baggage of not knowing what could have been, rather than to have created something successful or failed which is in the past.

Another concept is not to force creativity, as the periods of being idle and unproductive are vitally important, because the creative spirit is being energized during those periods.

Also advised is not to hang out with people who dismiss the idea of enthusiasm or try to defeat or squash your own.  

Some of these ideas remind of the book 'Art and Fear' by Bayles and excellent book about how art gets made, and getting beyond creative block and/or artistic procrastination.  The ideas in Presentation Zen don't seem new to me, but they are in a condensed form...a few short paragraphs that are simple and clear.  It makes the information easily digestible.

There is also a small vignette that talks about Pecha-kucha which is apparently a global presentation phenomenon started in 2003 which is sort of like a mix between haiku and visual karaoke.  You have to use 20 slides, and each is shown for 20 seconds (for a total presentation length of 6 mins., 40 secs.), to get your story across.  After those 20 slides have run, you're done and you sit down.  The question is whether the presenter is able to convey his/her message in the 6 mins., 40 secs. allotted.  Could you do that?  Here is the link for more info about Pecha-kucha:

In closing this post, what I'm most thinking about is the way I approach participating in challenges.  I generally like to bend them to fit what I want to do, not to use them as a 'push' to contain a piece to a literal interpretation.  Perhaps I need to re-think that approach and try using the challenge parameters.  Perhaps it would 'push' me to a new level of creativity.

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