« tom at interesting (different tom) | Main | coffee corps »


My friend is a teacher here in the states and they have been training her on what they call SmartBoards. You can import PPT docs, videos and images to it or make up presentations on the spot. Mostly it is a multimedia interactive whiteboard with web access. Ive never had more fun presenting than when I played with it for her class. http://smarttech.com/
That is a sample of one - although hers is more advanced.


I thought you'd enjoy this:

"Signwave Anagrammar is a text presentation tool for Mac OS X, a bit like Microsoft Powerpoint or Apple Keynote (except much more powerful). Whilst presenting text slides on screen, it listens to the current sound input source, and when a sound occurs, starts to jumble up the letters of the current slide. During silence, the letters are rearranged back into their proper order."


"what seemed to be a home-made flash presenting tool which allowed him to crawl around a web of charts, laid out a bit like a mindmap"

Description reminds me of the Tarquin Engine, a tool that creates "zooming infinite canvas webcomics". Scott McCloud used it in Mimi's Last Coffee.

that random slides on the slide sorter was how i 'organised' my interesting07 talk.

i also had an idea to have each slide randomly presented so it would have had no predefined order.

i guess to do that in a conventional presentation (where they is meant to be some structure) you'd have perhaps half a dozen simple 'key point' slides which didn't need to build on each other.

sadly most work-related presentation i do have to build up the story in a linear way to reach a conclusion. such is life.

also, my wife has just started teaching again in a school properly after a few years off, and has been introduced to smart boards. nothing like slapping a wall and shouting german numbers to wake kids up.

(especially in a woodwork lesson)

[she's actually a language teacher, last bit was an attempt at humour].

what we need is a home-made flesh presenting tool.

full body controlled presentations would also stop those tedious monologue presentations where the presenter sucks the life out of the room with their tediosity.

Awesome. The idea of more dynamic tools for presenting, not just asking for more out the the slides but also the device for changing them is so interesting. (Yes, I used so and almost added a couple extra o's, mind you.) I wish I could use my He-Man sword to harness the power of point and grayskull or the bubble gun you've shown. Laser points don't seem to do the trick. At the end of the day, it comes down to the imagination, energy, comfort, presence, etc. of the presenter but giving them more tools to move themselves and others is a fantastic idea...to change the "accepted" form of presenting.


It was only reading this that I recalled what I used to do when I did lectures in the early 90s: shoot everything I thought I might use on 35mm slides, and then go get those developed with cheap prints. I'd lay out the prints and rearrange them on the floor to figure out what my point was. I remember buying lights and a macro lens to shoot images out of books.

I was doing all that to do what I do today in a routine way, which is to assemble images that have something to do with what I'm thinking, and then figure out how to weave them together. Finding and arranging those images was the thinking, and still is today; powerpoint is great at that.

Indeed, the question now is how to go beyond making it easier, and now make it different. Being able to jump out of linear paths would be amazing, it would mean that presentations could respond, not just assert. Also it forces you to think: "what's my next point?" That's different than looking at the next slide to remember what the next point is.

Also, just recently I've started using very short video loops instead of static images. Typically it's just a few frames, just the play of light across a still image, or the grain of old film. It's a lot of work at the moment but I like the effect... the screen has a life and rhythm of its own... but not enough to pull attention away from the points I'm trying to make.

I hope.

Anyway: wise.

"No point to Power Point" :)


Using hyperlinks within PowerPoint and a trackball mouse it is possible to create presentation nets where you can follow the train of thought or respond to audience questions much more spontaneously. Checkout "Relational Presenting"
by Robert A Lane but first check out the examples on his website www.aspirecommunications.com

I've been thinking about this some more.

I think the problem is that you shouldn't really need visual aids at all.

Ken Robinson at TED is a good example. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/66 So are many famous politicians (as described so well by Jon Steel).

If we were convinced of the points we were making, and we were totally sure of our conviction even in the face of great opposition then we wouldn't need wiity pictures. Would we? As Steel points out, imagine Blair trying to sell Iraq with a witty deck.

I bet John Hegarty or Alan Fletcher or Steve Jobs could sell an idea without any visuals.

Are we relying on visuals to cover our own presentation inadequacies?

Hi Russel I know that your support of football is limited to the lower leagues so you might not have noticed this. but if you have a look at the Chelsea website you might see what your after.
Go to the flash version and then use the zoom out function and hey presto. You can navigate pages upward sideways and seemingly diagonally

Wearing my professional hat, I kinda despise (the typical use of) Powerpoint. I mean, everyone's seen the Gettysburg Address deck... Undoubtedly, a lot of the problems I'm seeing are down to the talks I'm seeing - scientific seminars, where we're all untrained presenters and we're trying to get extremely dense material across very fast. It's the kind of problems Tufte talks about at http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1 .

I know you're not using Powerpoint like that, so I guess what I'm about to write doesn't really apply to you - I guess you're using it as essentially a really clever OHP for images to add punctuation and emphasis, which feels much more natural to me. It's just that very very few people seem to use Powerpoint like that.

So, at least in my field, everyone assumes you're going to be using your slideware in the stereotypical way. That's what I really hate - it's the way you can see everyone's eyes glaze over as soon as the first slide goes up. I guess I'm asking "if you can get the entire experience of a talk from a Powerpoint deck, what's the point of turning up; and if you can get the entire experience of the talk from the talk alone, why use Powerpoint at all?". Why divide people's attention? I'm just about egomaniac enough to think that people should be looking at me, not the screen. (Poor audience).

Adding to that, which you allude to with the Keynote Cali thing (though I always think with the Gill Sans default it makes everything look like John Lewis corporate branding...), is the way stereotypical Powerpoint makes everything look the same, and that kind-of subconsciously makes everyone assume every presentation will contain the same sort of information. So, with all of that, half the time the audience are starting to drift off from the moment you start. That's a killer when you've got to stand up and speak for an hour on some bit of scientific research; everyone's asleep in five minutes.

The last talk I gave, I needed slides with diagrams on, so I drew out the slides by hand, photographed them, and turned it into a PDF. Admittedly, my sketching's pretty crappy - I've just put a couple up on my Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/covert/955120102/and http://www.flickr.com/photos/covert/955124064/, so you can all laugh at them, and looking at them now, they're still too literal - but overall it worked really well, because it immediately got people out of their complacency zone. It helped a lot that 'sketching as a metaphor for thought' was a pretty central theme of what I was saying, so it wasn't too much of a stretch. Still, if I get across that far with a presentation without coming across as a complete tit, I'll take that as a success.

I've pulled similar, I guess slightly theatrical, stunts in the past: turning up to my old research group, who all know me as a scruff in jeans and band T-shirts, in a three-piece suit to give a seminar was one. A silly little thing, but you could see people reacting to it, maybe paying a little more attention than they would have otherwise. Maybe the only time in history a suit's been used to *add* energy to a room... That seminar was mostly about the Web, actually, so I used my delicious account as the central hub of the presentation; linking to the things I wanted to talk about. Again, it was a decent fit with the central metaphor.

Within reason I'll try pretty much anything in a talk to try and reinforce whatever that metaphor is, and to unsettle a few preconceptions, in the hope that the words and ideas'll do the rest. Maybe it's just because I'm a dodgy presenter, a bit prone to stagefright really, and I need the crutches!

I really love the stuff Matt Webb's done that you've linked to; that's exactly the kind of theatrical stunt I wish I'd thought of first. (Plus; Max/MSP! Cool. I'm wondering whether something with Processing for my next presentation now...)

That turned out a bit rambly really. Sorry.

The comments to this entry are closed.