Präsentieren bedeutet, mit Menschen zu sprechen.

Kategorie: text & images

How to write a story a.k.a. how to plan a presentation


Image: Polly Dunbar, Ideas Everywhere © 2011

Ideas Everywhere by Polly Dunbar as featured on Bookstart is a great lesson in Story Telling 101: Where do ideas come from, how to create suspense, and more.

A good presentation is a good story. This is lovely stuff. (Which is why my teacher/editor me only very quietly mumbles: It should be whose, not who’s in the image above. How did this get past the editor? But then editing/correcting is a whole different story from writing.)

You may feel this particular story is not age appropriate for you. You are mature, grown up, a professional. Picture books are kids’ stuff.

Well, you’re in for a surprise. Age is a marketing thing. Great stories are beyond that.

You may want to read the author’s notes to find out more about what it takes to tell a story/give a presentation.

  • Ideas
  • Characters
  • Emotion
  • Location
  • Dilemma
  • Conflict
  • The MIDDLE
  • Resolution
  • The END

And let’s not forget about imagination

There is also a three-part interview with the author. Below is part three in which she talks us through illustrating tips, how to flesh out ideas and what to expect from the process of making a picture book.

Linklove: via Twitter/@storytellin

Technically speaking

Don’t how how to best put text on your technical drawings without creating visual and semantic noise?

Extremely useful article on callouts and explanatory text on visuals on I’d rather be writing.

Via Chris Atherton.

Building bridges


You have learned to use images on slides. You know images carry messages and emotions. You understand how important an image can be. And you probably have asked yourself at one time or another: »Where will I find the perfect picture for my slides?« The answer is pretty simple.

You won’t find it.

There is no perfect picture. If there was, photographers would be the most depressed species on Earth.

The answer is even simpler. It does not matter which picture you choose. Yeah, some images may fit your message better than others, some will be clearer, some will be faster, some will be more »connected«.

And of course there is cheesy and artsy and surprising and comforting and aesthetic and gritty and shocking and touching and cliché and everything else an image can be.

But what it all comes down to is that you, as a presenter, make the connection between image and message, between visual and words. You build the bridge. You are the bridge. You can have the image ask a question, or make a bold statement. You choose the frame, you provide the context.

So choose fast, choose quickly and if you dare, choose blindly.

In my class room I have a box full of art postcards I collect pretty much wherever I go. Each term at the end of a class I ask my students to pick a card. They can choose whatever they take a fancy to, for whatever reason. The mind is a beautiful maze. Later I ask them to connect their postcard to the topic of presenting. They find that extremely hard to do, at first.

»Look closely«, I say. »Look at the colors, at shapes, at faces, at patterns. And then count to three and begin to talk.« And that is how we begin our journey; slowly, stumbling at first.

Susan holds up a Victorian sepia-colored engraving with a group of ice skaters.

»Presenting is like dancing«, she says. »If everyone is moving at the same rhythm, it is a good talk.«

We keep finding more bridges. Presenting can be dangerous, there are traps, there may be thin ice. You need an ice breaker, with some people, we continue. And could go on for a while from here.

Carola’s card is a commercial for a brand of blue jeans. A young woman is leaning against a door; she is just wearing a bra and a pair of faded jeans.

»We talked about presenting naked«, Carola says. »And about not having to be see-through. About the fact that most of your fears are invisible. That you can learn to be more comfortable as a presenter.« »And making your audience comfortable«, Melanie adds. This is an all women class, and we have managed to build a very friendly and open atmosphere.

And so we move on and connect  and associate and build bridges where there were no bridges before, just picture postcards.

Presenting well is not about finding the perfect picture for your slides. It is about building bridges.

You can spend hours searching and only lose valuable time. If you are not sure what may work, why not let chance help you? You have been thinking so much about your topic, pretty much everything will connect itself to it, if you let it.

The picture at the top is one I took a few summers ago. I was having brunch with my best friend and we were watching the September wasps eat half of it.

I did not choose that image just now, I simply opened Picasa and randomly let my mouse open a folder. I order my images by date, so my folder names are simply dates: 2007-09-05. Oh, September, I said to myself, what a coincidence. Coincidence just smiles, as always.

A folder usually contains something between twenty and fifty images, often a series, so there were some twenty hungry wasps on food, and I simply picked one image. Not the best, not the cutest, not the most interesting, simply the first one my eye focused on.

And now it’s your turn. How do wasps connect to to this blog post? How do they connect to presenting? Can they carry the message of working with any given image?

Of course they can.

Wasps are choosy. They will carefully circle a slice of ham or apple pie and only then decide. Just like us, the like to take their time.

On the other hand, wasps are greedy. They just can’t get enough and often grab too big a bite and can hardly take off with it. Just like us, with our many images, with our talent for wasting time and energy by choosing from simply too wide a range of choices.

Then there is the image itself. I might use the one above to talk about focusing. About team work. About color contrast. About fear. About annoying audience members. About sweet nothings. About getting caught in a trap. About happy endings.

Use it to talk about whatever you like. Concentrate on your message. Focus on your words. Connect to your audience.

Use your image to build bridges. But don’t waste hours in search of perfection. Perfection is overrated. Perfection is always only in the hunting, never the finding.

A common thread


I found this red thread dangling in a park the other day and thought: Perfect. Just what I need for my public speaking classes tomorrow. Nice find.

Roter Faden in German is often used to describe the idea of a main line of thought in a written work.

In many talks or presentations, it is often not very visible to the audience. I often bring a red thread with me and pull it from my pockets, when we talk about structure, but having an accompanying image safely stored on my hard drive is a comfortable cushion.?? And I like finding much better than arranging or staging these things. An extra layer of authenticity, so to speak.

Anyway, where was I?

??In a well structured talk the main ideas and the keywords should be easy to see, easy to hear. They should be visible to your audience. They are the dots you need to connect to a clear line of thought. It helps your listeners and it will also help yourself.

Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

No reason, no rhyme


One in seven lacks access to clean water.

Earth Month 2010 is a worthy cause and I feel guilty that I am distracted by the visualization. But I am, and I keep counting, six, seven blue icons, how many is one in seven, shouldn’t there be one black icon for every six blue icons, I am confused, maybe it is just me, everyone else gets this, I am sure, argh, stupid me, stupid t-shirt.

You don’t want this to happen in your audience. One in seven does not get your numbers. We are ten finger animals. Anything beyond 10 needs time to sink in. Much more time than you think it does.

  • So make your numbers easy to see, not just easy on the eye.
  • Make them mean something.
  • Eliminate built-in distractors.
  • And talk us through. All of us.

Make sure your cause does not get lost in the translation of foggy visuals. And if in doubt forsake the pretty layout for a clear one. Especially when you are talking about people. People should be more than icons on a t-shirt.

If you are more interested in causes than looks: The campaign was run by Aveda and so it made me think after all. Hair salons must use an obscene amount of water. The campaign logo on the Aveda site is very clear, by the way.

One in seven lacks access to clean water.