For a video today I found this delightful TED talk about TED talks. TED, which stands for technology, education, and design, has become an amazing collection of great 5-to-20-minute talks, some of the best anywhere. If you want examples of great public speaking, excellent presentations, you go to TED. So when I was at the TED site browsing and saw this one about what makes a great TED talk, I couldn’t resist. And I was surprised, at first, but this makes so much sense.
TED founder Chris Anderson talks about what makes a great TED talk, and it’s not what I would have thought. It’s not the story you share, the secret you disclose, or finishing with an inspiring call to action. “No,” he says …
Your number one task as a speaker is to transfer into your listeners’ minds an extraordinary gift, a strange and beautiful object, that we call an idea.
You can click here for the original on the TED site.
A friend referred me to Vinod Khosla’s Five-Second Rule at Forbes.com. It’s about the slide decks we use for presenting, and its wisdom is a lot like what you get in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink or thousands of blog posts about the importance of headlines. Here’s the Vinod’s test for slide decks:
he puts a slide on a screen, removes it after five seconds, and then asks the viewer to describe the slide. A dense slide fails the test—and fails to provide the basic function of any visual: to aid the presentation.
Post author Jerry Weissman explains how this addresses two of the most important elements of presentation graphics:
Less is More, a plea all too often sounded by helpless audiences to hapless presenters; and more important, the human perception factor. Whenever an image appears on any screen, the eyes of every member of every audience reflexively move to the screen to process the new image. The denser the image, the more processing the audiences need.
This is a good example of the underlying principle of instant rejection. It applies as well to emails, blog posts, and other content. It’s as simple as turning the page, switching the channel, or going on to the next email. As a communicator, or content provider, you get an instant to pitch your message before the attention moves on. If you don’t win the instant, you got rejected.
I like serendipity. Not just because the word sounds like a refreshing drink in the shade on a hot day, but because when serendipity happens, it’s always good. Here’s the Wikipedia definition:
Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely. …
So I had a great Friday: a nice drive from Eugene to Portland on a bright clear sunny early summer day, then lunch with Pamela Slim (@pamslim on twitter) and the second half of her Escape From Cubicle Nation workshop, with me included for a short guest spot on business planning. Then dinner with Pam and friends.
So what’s the serendipity here? It’s a reasonable question. It’s not like I didn’t already know Pam through telephone and email, and a lot of twitter; so I knew she does an excellent workshop. No surprise there — it was. And maybe you already take this for granted, but for me, at least, an old guy, the process of finding the real people through the blogs and tweets is a very special thrill. I’ve never been that good at cocktail parties or networking. But, through the magic of this new world, I’m meeting new people, and loving it.
So on Friday, I met Pam and several of her good friends, fellow bloggers and tweeters. We had a dinner hosted by @chrisguillebeau of The Art of Nonconformity and his wife Jolie; and I also got to know Matthew Scott of The Strategic Incubator (@MatthewRayScott on Twitter) better. Matthew is a wealth of really interesting stories, wisdom of both the real and folk variety, and business experience.
So I’m reminded that there really is a social in social media. Or at least there can be. It might start with blog posts, and tweets, but over time, as you follow people’s work and share (podcasts, phone calls, other posts), you get to know real people. And, when you meet them, they are real people.
You and I and a lot of students, parents, and teachers ought to thank my friend Matthew Scott for posting this on his Strategic Incubator blog. Do yourself and your kids and their teachers a favor, take five minutes, and look/listen to a great presentation. Matthew was making the point that all businesses are sometimes about presentations, and that’s true, and this is a good example. But it’s good for a lot of other reasons too.