28 Dec 2012

"It's 12 degrees here."

I am on a holiday. I am in my home town right now. When I was packing my bags, my father called me to suggest we get some winter clothing (jackets, sweater, etc). He said it was cold here. He said, "It's 12 degree here." Hyderabad (where I work) was pretty warm then.

When I landed here, reality struck. I was freezing. Coming from Hyderabad where winter was looking more like summer, this was a shock. Then my father smiled and said, "I told you it was 12 degrees here."

It is getting cooler by the day. Today's newspaper reads, "Yesterday was the coldest day in the last 28 years. It was 10 degrees yesterday."

When I was in Hyderabad I could not make much sense of what 12 degrees meant. I could not visualise. Was 12 degree too cold or just nice cold?

Well, the problem is, numbers are dry and do not make much of a sense on their own. It is like saying the GDP of India is $1.85 Trillion or the per capita income of India is $1219. What do I do with that? I cannot take any action based on this figure because I do not fully understand it.

The next time you need to tell your dear ones it's very cold, resist the temptation to say "It's 12 degrees here." Better say, "It's freezing down here and we have not seen such cold weather in the last decade." People will act more upon the latter than the former.

Whatever be the weather in your city, continue to have fun. Have a happy and fun filled new year.

24 Dec 2012

10 most watched TED Talks ever

TED talks have become extremely popular. I must have already written a dozen posts about TED. Some of the best presenters and best minds are on display at TED. It has thousands of videos and one can never see all of it. That leads us to ask, "Which are the most popular TED talks ever?"

Here is a list which was published on TED Blog in August 2012. The most watched TED talks ever are...


Jill Bolte Taylor (Stroke of insight)
Pranav Mistry (potential of sixth sense)
David Gallo (underwater astonishments)
Pattie Maes & Pranav Mistry (sixth sense demo)

Tony Robbins (Why we do what we do)
Brene Brown (Power of vulnerability)

The ones with the ** are my recommendations. If you cannot watch them all, watch these four atleast. I have added hyper links to these for your convenience.

22 Dec 2012

Change the default font in a template

Templates are used by most presenters. Most of us use the default templates available in MS PowerPoint. There are 40 templates in MS PowerPoint 2010. If you are slightly more interested, you might have used free templates from www.office.com. If you are in love with templates then you must have downloaded it from various websites (and wasted a lot of time as well).

Every template has a default font. When you insert a text box on a slide, you are forced to use the default font. I find this very annoying because the template might be cool and awesome but the default font might not be so great.

How do you change the default font of a template?

20 Dec 2012

and the winners are...

The names of two lucky winners are Bryan Alvare and Jeremey Donovan (both from the USA). Congratulations guys! Everyone else, who did not win but took the survey, thanks a ton people. The feedback has been valuable.

By the way, this is the 400th post on my blog. Hurray!

18 Dec 2012

Presenting as a Team of Two

When we talk of presentations, we almost always visualise one person presenting. Have you ever seen two people presenting together? Have you ever presented as a team of two? Not  one after another, like students present their project, but together.

I saw, I think for the first time, two people present together a few weeks back at Nielsen Consumer 360 conference. It was pretty nice and gave me a lot to think about.

What it means to present as a team of two?
Let me clarify what it means to present together. Assume I am with you on stage. I am presenting Part 1 of the presentation and you stand with me. You keep asking questions, agreeing and disagreeing to what I say. Then you present Part 2 and I ask questions and seek clarification. That's what I call presenting as a team.

Benefits of presenting as a team
Come to think of it, there are many benefits of presenting as a team. One, higher audience attention. One presenter talking for too long can be boring. Two presenter swapping positions makes it interesting. What is interesting increases audience attention. Having two presenters can take your presentation a step closer to a 'play' (theatre) and hence make it more fun to watch.

Two, playing to your strength. Each one of us have certain areas of expertise. If two presenters are presenting, then they can divide which area who is more competent in. This way the audience gets a better quality of presentation.

Three, presenting two sides of an argument. If there are two points of view and there are pros and cons of each argument then it is very good to present as a team of two. One presenters fights for one side and the other fights against him/her. A heated and dramatic argument can charge the audience. In the end, the two of them can come to a conclusion but presenting two sides of the argument using two presenters is ideal.

Four, increased audience understanding. Most of us are shy to ask questions thinking it might be a 'stupid question'. If you think this is the case with your audience, then presenting as a team is a boon. The questions you want your audience to ask, if they don't ask, can be asked by the other presenter. He can take the role of the audience and question the presenter.

How to present as a team of two?
There are various benefits of presenting as a team. What does that mean? It means more effort on the part of the presenters. You need to prepare very well. Practice presenting as a team 10 times before the actual thing on stage. Divide sections of the presentation and ensure each section is long enough. If you have a 20 minute presentation, you can break it into four parts and present for 5 minute each.

While one presenter presents, the other one asks questions. This aids audience understanding. Just make sure you practice in more depth to ensure you remember what questions to ask and what clarifications to seek when.

If you have presented as a team of two, I would like to hear your story. Why you presented as a team and how did it go?

16 Dec 2012

Best from the Past: December

Today let me share with you some good posts from December 2009, 2010 and 2011.

How to cut short your presentation at the last minute?
You were alloted 30 minutes. Because the conference started late, your time has now been cut short to 15 minutes. What will you do? Panic. What else?

In December 2009 I wrote a post about this and gave three suggestions. One, do not panic. No one succeeded in life by panicking. Two, do not apologise to the audience and sound defensive. Do not say I had prepared for 30 minutes and now I cannot complete everything. The audience will only feel bad and pathetic about it. You might want to give it a passing mention but say that you will share the crux in 15 minutes and the audience can always connect with you after the presentation. Who is stopping you or them to continue the conversation? Third, skip some slides and focus on what is the crux. Do not increase your speed to cover more content. That is stupid. You might also want to cut the basic warm up content at the start.

Extra tip: When you are skipping slides it is better to hide them during slideshow. Do not show a slide and then say "I will not present this and move on." The audience feels they are missing something.

Click here to read the complete post.

Use special fonts in your presentations
If you want to stand out, it is advisable to use a new font in your presentation. Do not use something that's difficult to read. Choose your font carefully. When in doubt stick to Arial or Helvetica. No point wasting your time in search of a new font.

One good resource which I use most often is dafont.com. It has a brilliant collection of free to use fonts. You can click here to read the original post.

Make your own slides: Do not ask your subordinate
If you are a senior manager, you might be getting your slide deck made by your subordinates. That's a common practice and that's a very bad practice. I believe everyone should make his/her own slides.

When you make your slides, you get the meaning right. You know why you used an image. You know why the animation is in a particular order. You are more confident when you make your own slides. You also have a better grip on your time (when you present).

Read this important post here.

How to design a logo in PowerPoint?
This has been one of the most popular posts of my blog since it was first published in December 2009. In this post I have explained the process of making a simple logo in PowerPoint. Click here to read this interesting and innovative post.

I designed the logo of my blog also on PowerPoint.

6 Dec 2012

Win a book... in 60 seconds

You have a chance to win a book by participating in a small reader survey. There are only 6 questions and it takes 60 seconds to answer. Click here to fill out the form.

The questions are very simple.

Q1. Which software do you use to make presentations?
Q2. You have been reading the blog since...
Q3. What do you like about the blog?
Q4. What do you feel can be better?
Q5. What topics should I write more about?
Q6. Your name and other details (will be kept confidential)

I will randomly choose two winners from all the entries. Go ahead, fill out the survey by clicking here and get a chance to win a book on presentations. This prize is for readers staying anywhere in the world. Survey closes on December 9.

3 Dec 2012

Does everyone in the room understand FII?

Last week I attended the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference in Mumbai. I was there as a marketer looking to learn something new. It was a fantastic conference in two ways; as a marketer I did learn new stuff and as a presenter I saw some great presentations.

It was a day long conference with a series of presentations on diverse topics. I kept noting down the good and the bad stuff presenters did at the event. I wanted to share it all with you. I will be sharing these over the next week. Here is one such instance.

Mr. Ram Charan, the most influential consultant alive, gave an hour long talk. He is the consultant for some of the biggest names in the US and so you will expect him to throw a lot of jargon at young marketers like me. What happened was totally the reverse. Whenever he introduced a term like FDI or FII, he asked 'Does everyone in the room understand FDI / FII?

To me this was awesome.

One, it made everyone in the room comfortable. Many people in the audience would have said to themselves, "It is not so bad if I do not know what FDI means." He also gave a chance to the audience to understand the term before Ram Charan elaborated on his point.

Two, it means Mr. Ram Charan was thoughtful about his audience. He knew he was not talking to finance managers, CFOs or CEOs. "These 400 odd people are marketers. Let me check with them if they understand my jargon."

Next time, if you are forced to throw a jargon at our audience, can you please ask yourself "Does everyone in the room understand this?" Should I explain the jargon, even if some people in the audience might already know what it means.

2 Dec 2012

Please fill out the Reader Survey (in just 1 minute)

Dear friends

I have a small request. Please fill out my annual reader survey. It has only 6 questions and takes 1 minute to fill. Your feedback will make the blog more helpful to you. It will make me fine tune the content to your liking and need. Click here to participate.

Please note:

  • All questions are compulsory.
  • 2 readers (from all over the world) will be randomly chosen and given a free copy of the book 'The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs'. I love the book and you will love it too. If you already own the book, how about another book; HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. All I want is to make sure you read one of these books :-)
  • Please share your correct email id for me to contact you (in case you are the lucky winner)
  • Survey closes December 9, 2012.
Thanks so much.

Vivek