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Show & Tell - How everyone can make extraordinary presentations

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Napkin videos; my mind-bending breakthrough!

Having drawn hundreds of “back of the napkin” sketches to help explain everything from Healthcare to the Hero’s Journey, I know first-hand the remarkable power of simple drawings.

Now I’ve learned something new: napkin pictures are even more effective as video.

And here’s the best thing: we can make videos like this with… ready for it? PowerPoint.

That’s right. I made this entire video using the basic animation tools of plain-old PowerPoint. I captured them using Camtasia (a screen-recording app) and added free music from the amazing bensound.com.

The process is remarkably simple. (You can see the whole thing in detail as an Associate on my napkinacademy.com.)

1) Write a short script.

write a script

2) Create a storyboard in PowerPoint. (1 idea & drawing per slide; take as many slides as you need.)

rrstoryboard

3) Use the animation tools to move pieces around on the slide.

animations
4) Play the animation while recording the screen.

edit_screen
5) Edit and add sound in Camtasia.

RockRoll_click
Presto! Instant viral video.

How cool is that?! Now I’m making videos of everything. It takes just a couple hours to explain… well, anything!

Again, for details on all the steps, join me at the napkinacademy.com. Use the coupon code NAPKINVIDEO to save $10 OFF your first month.

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Our Health Care Napkins pass 1.7 million views!

A FEW YEARS AGO, my doctor friend Tony Jones and I became worried about the health care reform debate. People were bringing guns to town hall meetings, there were fist-fights in the hallways of congress, and it felt like the nation was tearing itself apart.

In the midst of all this, Tony and I agreed that the media wasn’t doing anything to help — in fact, it was the media (left and right alike) that was driving the angst. Rather than providing any explanation of what “Obamacare” was actually about, all they were doing was talking about how ‘divisive’ everything was. (Which in media-speak is just an excuse to air the very worst of human behavior in order to capture eyeballs.)

So we decided to create a simple visual explanation of the ACTUAL LAW. And we did.

And our drawings just passed 1.7 MILLION views on slideshare.net. Wow.

It took 43 simple pictures to do it, but we managed to cover:

  1. The perceived need for health care reform.
  2. The underlying rift between doctors and insurance that drove the problem in the first place.
  3. How big health care spending has become.
  4. The various proposed solutions.

When we were done, I posted our slideshow on slideshare.net. Within weeks it became one of the most viewed presentations on the site. It was picked up by the HuffingtonPost.com, which got me invited on-air by Fox News. That got me invited to present to the White House Office of Communications. A month later, BusinessWeek selected our napkins as “The World’s Greatest Presentation of 2009.”

Without a doubt, those 43 simple drawings were the most influential I’ve ever created.

So here we are 5 years later. Obamacare is law. It was a mess at first, but seems to be working better and attracting members. It remains a central point of political contention in America. The Supreme Court is thinking of debating it again. So around and around we go, again. At least now I feel like I understand it.

Mostly.

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The 3 greatest presentation books of all time. (That have nothing to do with presentations)

As we reach the final countdown before the launch of my new book (pre-order Show and Tell now and join me for a secret webinar on April 10), I am reflecting on the many incredible presentation books I have relied on for inspiration, guidance, and reference.

Scanning across the bookshelves in my office (I buy them all on paper because I like to draw in them), it dawns on me that my collection falls into three must-read categories. I’m going to say a few words about the books in the first two categories, then a lot about the last.

1) Must-read books about presentations

books1

2) Must-read books sort-of about presentations

books2

3) Must-read books not at all about presentations
This is the group I really want to talk about, because all these books changed how I think about my life and my presentations. I know that anyone who makes presentations will get value out of these three books, but will never see them in a list of “presentation books.”

So here they are: the three greatest presentation books of all time – that aren’t about presentations.

1) The best book ever written on understanding the machine in our head:
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


As a presenter, we’ve got a lot of heads we need to think about. First, there is our own: what’s on our mind, what we’d like to share, how nervous we are, etc. Then there all the heads of all those people we’re presenting to: what’s on their minds, what are they willing to listen to, what’s making them wake up or fall asleep.

In reality, being a presenter is more about being an engaging psychologist than it is about being a sage or a teacher or an entertainer. And no one on earth is a more engaging psychologist than Daniel Kahneman. Without even opening his book again, my mind immediately alights on some of these presentation gems:

  • Positive vs negative priming. Want people to enjoy your talk? Say upbeat things. Avoid the negative. Don’t say, “This sucks because…” instead say, “This is lovely because…” Yes, this flies in the face of everything we read in the news, BuzzFeed, Gawker, etc, but that’s precisely the reason we’re so cranky when we read the news: it negatively primes us to expect bad things, and our body physiologically prepares for badness. End of happy presentation, right there.
  • Framing. The way we initially “frame” a comment defines how it will be received and recalled. If we say our team lost the game, we think our team was bad. If we say the other team won the game, we’re still left open to the possibility that our team was great as well. I can think of ten thousand ways to use this when presenting ideas I want people to want to remember.
  • The Two Thinking Modes. As the title of Daniel’s book tells us, our brain breaks thinking down into two modes: one ‘fast’ for getting things done and one ‘slow’ for thinking them through. We shift back and forth between the two modes all the time. Knowing why – and being aware of it – is like someone finally handing us the instruction manual for our mind.

2) The best book ever written on using the machine in our head:
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer


Throughout my life, I’ve worried that my memory wasn’t as reliable as I needed. (Especially a problem when you’ve got a four-hour presentation to give.) In fact, one core element of the stage fright we all feel at times is the fear that we’re going to forget what we wanted to say. Thank you Joshua for letting me know I’m not a flake and even more for showing me how to remember. (And even more, the solution is PICTURES!)

A few highlights:

  • Introducing the Memory Palace. Now all the rage thanks to BBC’s Sherlock, it was Joshua’s book that re-introduced the memory palace to our toolbox of cognitive tricks. The memory palace is the tool that the ancients used to prepare long presentations before the days of PowerPoint. It is the simple process of listing all the things you want to say, then mentally walking through a favorite place (Tuscan palace, vacation spa on the Aegean Sea, olive grove on the hills above Athens) and placing all the “things” in obvious sight. Once it’s time to remember, all you need to do is “walk” through the palace in the mind’s eye, and presto – there are the things you wanted to say.
  • What this means for me: I almost never write more than five words on any presentation slide. Instead, I turn my entire presentation into a visible memory palace. When I see a particular picture, chart, map, sketch, or graphic, I immediately remember (most of) what I wanted to say about it. And if I forget something, nobody notices. Why? Because we’ve all got a nice picture to look at.
  • Seriously, reading this book will give you a whole new sense of hope for what your mind can do, and a whole new sense of wonder for how far can we push visual thinking.

3) The best book ever written on using the rest of our mind and body:

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Back in Junior High and High School, I ran all the time. It was the late seventies and early eighties and everybody ran. Track, cross country, family weekend fun-runs. Since I was a kid and indestructible, it never occurred to me that the running might 1) help my body stay strong so that it could better withstand the rigors of daily life 2) physically enlarge and oxygenate my brain and 3) encourage my body’s naturally calming and thinking chemicals to flow.

Stronger body, bigger brain, less stress? They didn’t mean anything to me at age fifteen, but I can’t think of a better cocktail now at age 50. We don’t often talk about how physically demanding giving a presentation is, but we should. I now see that aside from having my content prepared and practiced, the single greatest contributor to my confidence as a presenter is feeling physically well.

Okay, there are lots of books about health and fitness. Why am I so ga-ga about Christopher’s? Two reasons: One, this is the first book I have read in one sitting in twenty years. It is that fun, captivating, illuminating, and full of fantastic stories. More importantly, reading this book – especially the description of how to run well – got my adrenaline pumping so fast that the moment I finished I went out for my first long run in almost twenty years.

Did I hurt myself? I did not. Did I find myself effortlessly visualizing my entire next presentation as I floated along? I did. Have I stopped running since? I have not. And neither have I stopped giving ever better presentations.

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Join me for a free, super-secret SHOW & TELL webinar on April 10.

April 10 live webinar

Pre-order “SHOW and TELL” before April 10, 2014 and I will invite you to a special free, private, super-secret, 45-minute live webinar on making extraordinary presentations.

We’ll talk in detail about the three rules of great presentations:

  1. Tell the truth and the heart will follow.
  2. Tell a story and understanding will follow.
  3. Tell it with pictures and the mind will follow.

Then, I’ll share with you a set of advanced presentation tricks guaranteed to make your audience want you to talk longer! (How awesome would that be!)

The details:

Pre-order SHOW and TELL at any online retailer:

Send an electronic copy of your receipt to: preorder.showandtell@gmail.com

  • You’ll receive your webinar invitation link
  • Register and attend!

See you on April 10. Until then, all the best!
- Dan

“A simple, beautiful, and important book. An absolute must-read.”
- GARR REYNOLDS, author of Presentation Zen
“This deceptively simple little book is a must-read for seasoned presenters and novices alike.”
- DAVID ALLEN, author of Getting Things Done

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