30 Jul 2014

Photograph Tip: Rules of Head Room & Lead Room

Today I will talk about two rules for taking good photographs. It will also help you choose good images for your PPTs. I came across these in this useful book on film making.

1. Head Room Rule

The space between the head and the top border (in an image). Here is an example:


In this image, the head room is almost zero. The hairs have got marginally cut. Let us look at another image:


The head room is very small in this image. The Head Room Rule states that the head room in your photo should be minimal. This is important if you want to capture emotions properly. A larger head room will make the face smaller and hence the emotions will not get properly captured. See the image below. The action is captured but not the emotion.



2. Lead Room Rule

Lead Room is nothing but looking room. You need to give a lot of room in the direction in which the person is looking. In case of a moving vehicle, the space needs to be given in front of the vehicle (in the direction the vehicle is moving).


This photo would look very bad if there was very less space in front of the cop and very large space behind him. The same is the case below. You have to frame the picture so that you leave a lot of looking room in front of the animal. Do not put the animal in the middle or the right side, when it is looking towards the right.




Images from unsplash.com and pixabay.com

24 Jul 2014

Create professional looking charts in 6 steps

I came across this nice looking chart in an article I read on a website.



Normally, our charts in PowerPoint don't look so cool. They have the default blue and maroon color. How do we make this kind of chart easily in PowerPoint?

Watch this slide deck and follow the 6 simple steps. Difficulty in viewing? Click here to see it on slideshare.


18 Jul 2014

New Font: Google Noto for the whole world



Google has launched its new font Noto. The font is available across multiple languages. The reason for trying this new font will not be its looks but its utility. If you have multiple languages in the same page, you can use Noto fonts for all such languages. Noto English, Noto Chinese, Noto Tamil and so on instead of installing and using different type of font for each language.

To know more about serif and sans serif fonts click here.

Go ahead, try this new font. Click here to download.

15 Jul 2014

66 Best Presentation & Public Speaking Tips


I wrote my 500th post last week. That's a big milestone for me. In this post, I try to present the crux of my five and a half years of blogging. What follows is the best 66 tips you will ever read on making a presentation and giving a talk. Benefit from it.

Planning Your Presentation

1. You have to tell a story to your audience. Stories are memorable and stories appeal to people. Ask not what information I have to share. Instead ask, what story should I tell?

2. Appeal to emotions. Most presentations are too logical but all decisions are based on emotions.

3. Every argument needs; Ethos, Pathos and Logos (Aristotle). Ethos is credibility, pathos is emotions and logos is logic. You need all the three to convince someone. Most presentations lack emotions.

4. Our brain loves novelty. Teach people something new.

5. If your audience remembers only one thing, what would it be? Try to come up with your main message in less than 140 characters. This will force you to think properly.

6. Divide your talk into 3 parts. Your audience will find it easy to follow and remember.

7. Deliver a jaw-dropping moment which will be remembered for a really long time. Nancy Duarte calls it the 'star moment'. STAR - Something They'll Always Remember.

8. Our brain also loves humor. It lowers defenses and make you more likable by your audience. Using humor will mean audience will not find your boring.

9. If you can, try to present/speak in 18 minutes or less. The shorter your presentation the better.

10. Give concrete examples. Your audience cannot understand abstract concepts.

11. Set a time limit and make your presentation. Creativity flourishes under constraints. Do not keep working on your presentation till the last minute.

12. Plan your content on paper. Software comes at the end. Once you have complete clarity, your slides will get made faster.

13. Spend time in understanding your audience. Who are they? What they know? What they want from your presentation? Where are they right now and where do you want them to be at the end of the talk?

14. Prepare for questions which your audience will ask. On every slide ask, what will my audience ask me on this slide?

15. Make proper handouts. Handouts are not printouts of the slides. Use handouts effectively. You can print a summary in a one page handout and given it at the end of the presentation.

16. As per John Medina, a molecular biologist, our brain loses attention after 10 minutes. If your talk is longer than that then every 10 mins do something different. Play a video, get a new speaker or give a task to your audience.

17. Prepare for less time. For a 10 min talk, you should prepare for 7-8 minutes.

18. Everyone pays attention at the start. Make the most of that extra attention and start well.

19. End early. Everyone loves to go home early or finish a meeting early.

20. How to start a presentation? Start from where your audience is now. What do they know about the topic. Start talking about that and get everyone on the same page. Now start your journey to where you want to take them.

21. What is the objective of your talk? Remember this all the time and make sure you fulfill it.

Designing Your Slides

1. Visual display of information is important. Avoid too much text and go for images and videos.

2. Picture Superiority Effect states that photos are better than text. Using photos make your audience understand more and remember more. Use photos to amplify your message.

3. Have one theme per slide. Do not try to say too many things on one slide.

4. Use very few words per slide. Avoid bullets at all costs.

5. For every slide ask; "What's my point?" and "Why does it matter?"

6. Remove all 'noise' from your slides. Try to keep it clutter free. Whatever can be removed without losing the main message is a 'noise'.

7. Keep animations and transitions to the minimum. Use it only if very necessary.

8. Do not use 3-D charts. Your objective is not to impress your audience. 2-D charts are better for audience understanding.

9. Utilize empty space on your slide properly. Do not fill every corner of your slide. Empty space adds to the power of your slide.

10. Help your audience understand your numbers. Make sense of the numbers and compare/contrast them.

11. Have large size text on your slides. Your slides must be visible from the back of the room.

12. If you have 10 slides with 10 charts, try to give a break to your audience by showing images or telling a story after presenting 3 slides.

13. Have a one sentence summary of what is the key finding of every chart/table you present. Do not wait for your audience to figure out the key message.

14. Edit your slides ruthlessly after your first draft is ready. Remember, the shorter the better.


Delivering Your Presentation

1. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Unless you rehearse 10 times you cannot master your presentation. The aim is not to memorize but to be in the flow.

2. Talk as if you are having a conversation. You are not 'giving a presentation' to me. You are talking to me as a person talks to another.

3. Deliver a multisensory experience. Try to engage more than one sense. Can you make people feel the message?

4. Be authentic. Do not try to be someone else. Speak from your heart.

5. Do not hold yourself back during delivery. Be natural. Be the same person; on and off the stage.

6. Move around. Do not stand behind a lectern. Move your hands as well.

7. Make proper eye contact.

8. Do not read the slides.

9. Do not stand facing the slides. Have a laptop in front of you, so you don't look back.

10. Use a wireless presenter to change slides.

11. Reach your venue early. Check your equipment. Do a dry run before the actual talk starts.

12. Do not try to be a perfect speaker. Just go and talk. No one is perfect. No one can become perfect.

13. No one cares about your mistakes. Most of them will not even notice it. Take your mistakes in your stride.

14. Calm yourself before every presentation. Tell yourself everyone gets nervous. Take slow deep breaths to calm your nerves.

15. Engage your audience. You talk is not a one way lecture. Ask questions. Give away prizes. Mingle with the crowd.

16. Take charge of the room in which you are presenting. Make any changes in seating styles, lighting, etc. if you feel that is affecting your performance.

17. Share the stage with other speakers. Your audience will love this change. One speaker can become boring (especially in long presentations/workshops).

18. Voice modulation is necessary. You remember your college professor who drove you to sleep in every lecture because she kept on talking without any voice modulation.

19. Do not use jargon.

20. Have fun while preparing your presentation and while delivering it. If you have fun, your audience will also have fun. You are tense and they will not enjoy at all.

21. Use props to explain concepts. Go out of the way in figuring out ways to make your audience understand and remember your story.

22. Do not speak too fast. Pause often. Pauses help you get extra attention.

23. The more you speak, the better you become. If it is your first presentation, you will fumble and that is fine. Only after you have presented multiple times can you hope to improve.

Other Tips
1. You have to be passionate about your topic. If you are not moved by the topic, how can you move your audience? Passion is contagious. Your passion will affect your audience.

2. Your talk has to help people. Do not sell what you will not buy yourself.

3. Start with a beginners' mind. There is no right and wrong way of giving a talk. Do what you feel right. Take a risk. Try out something new.

4. Be clear, be simple and be short.

5. PowerPoint is not a must every time you speak. Go without slides once in a while. Just carry some prints of data you want to present.

6. You are the focus of your presentation. Not your slides. People have come to listen to you. So stop equating presentation with PowerPoint.

7. Videotape first few minutes of your talk and watch it. It will help you immensely.

8. Look back at the talk you just gave. What went right, repeat it. What went wrong, learn from it.

Most of these tips are based on the following books: Presentation Zen, Talk Like TED, Confessions of a Public Speaker, Resonate, HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, The Quick & Easy Way to Effective Public Speaking  & The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. It is also based on my 6 years of blogging. Read the book reviews by clicking here.

11 Jul 2014

3 Things you need to know about every Chart

When a chart is presented to you, remember to ask the following questions to yourself and the presenter.




#1 What is the key take-away from this chart?

Ask the presenter on what is her central finding. Why is she presenting the chart and what does she intend to conclude from this?

#2 What is the source of data?

It is important to know the source of data. This makes the claim credible and believable.
I recently received a chart from a TV channel claiming they are the No. 1 channel. In small prints below were the words... In female audience 25 years + in select income classes. It was also mentioned that the channel was No. 1 between 9pm to 10pm between Monday and Wednesdays. You get the point :)

#3 What is the x and y-axis (vertical and horizontal axis)?

You need to check if the x-axis and y-axis are labelled. What is being measured on these axes and where does the measurement start. If the vertical x-axis does not start at zero, you can suspect something is wrong.


Trust in God, but check the charts...

8 Jul 2014

3 Things that make a Story great


Film making is a difficult job. Hundreds of new movies are released every year and only a small fraction of them succeed. Few weeks back I came across a book on movie making. The author has given a simple answer to what makes a story good. He says:

In order to create a great story we need...

1. Great Characters,
2. Great Conflict, and
3. Great Expectations


If you are writing a story, create great characters. They can be interesting because of their looks, habits or nature. Look at any good movie, and you will find interesting characters. The joker in The Dark Knight. Mr. Gru in Despicable Me. Minions in Despicable Me. The characters cannot be completely ordinary. There has to be something unique about them.

The second element is a conflict. Your characters need to face a big challenge or obstacle. In Despicable Me, Mr. Gru has to steal the moon.

Finally, great characters + great conflict = great expectations. In The Dark Knight Rises, the Batman has almost lost the battle. Can he make a comeback? The audience has to ask such questions as they see the movie or hear your story. That's when they will be hooked.

If you are narrating a story, remember to focus on the characters. Talk about them in detail. Then talk about the conflict. A big obstacle or challenge. Build in the expectation. What will happen next? Will the hero win this battle?

3 Jun 2014

How do you start your presentation?


What is the first thing you talk about?


  • If you are proposing to launch a new product, do you talk about the 'new product' right at the start?
  • If you are offering a solution to a problem, do you start with the 'solution'?
  • If you are seeking a sponsorship, do you start with 'how much money you want'?

Yesterday I was chatting with a senior manager from one of world's leading technology companies. This manager makes high-stakes presentations in her company. On asking, how should one start a presentation she said this:

"Find out what your audience already knows about your topic. Start your presentation from there. Start by tapping into their existing knowledge. Go where the audience is standing right now. Then take them along a journey and leave them where you want them to be by the end of your presentation."

If you are proposing to launch a new product, start from what the audience already knows. Talk about the market situation now and then draw their attention to a gap you have identified.


Image from unsplash.com

2 Jun 2014

Top 100 Online Resources for Presenters


The guys at Prezi have compiled a wonderful list of top 100 resources useful for every presenter. I am happy to share that this blog has also been featured in the list. Click here to check out the complete list. Though the list is long, you must have a look. You will find many awesome tips.