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November 22, 2005


Ben Buchanan

I had some success recently when I wanted the audience to follow the steps of a process which is actually very simple, but the resulting diagram makes it look more complex than it is.

I said up front that I was going to "take them away from the projector for a minute"; then went ahead and talked them through the process while drawing the diagrams on a whiteboard.

Seeing the procedure take shape (even in my writing ;)) seemed to help it come together.


>then went ahead and talked them through the process while drawing the diagrams on a whiteboard.

Thanks, Ben. Yes, even if you use a projector, hitting the B or W key and then moving to the whiteboard can be a nice change up (at the very least). There's just something very visceral and clear about drawing and explaining in front of an audience on a whiteboard flipchart, etc.


my favourite presentations (that i give) are when i'm telling the story with illustrations i make on the spot on the whiteboard.

i find slides cramp my storytelling, no matter what.

hmmm, i need to try the background image thing you guys all rage about.

love the site. hooked on it.


Excellent, Charlie.

I worked with an art director when I was at Apple that was an amazing "analog" guy. He kept sticky notes all over his beautiful cinema display and almost *never* used his Mac at all. For his presentations, he would put huge sheets of paper on the wall to show his beautifully drawn "steams of consciousness." He could draw on the fly too as he thought out loud. It was fascinating and effective. I would do that if I could — but I draw like a 3-year old (which may actually be insulting to 3-year olds...).

Anyway, yes, if you can do it. "Live" illustrating can be excellent for story telling.

Marco Bakera

You are absolutely right. Using computers in creatve processes is often more a barrier than a needfull thing. Ideas have to appear clearly and unformed by any technology. So I prefer using pen and paper in every process of developing new ideas. Its fast, its adaptable to many ways the mind will travel and you can use it nearly everytime and everywhere.

Thanks for your article. :)

Umesh Persad

See this Video:
at time 19:58 to see a good development of ideas visually.

Sandy Wagner

Analog is not the only alternative here. there are other types off software that allow a much more open ended use. We have taken to using tablet PC's and mind mapping software or some completely freehand "whiteboard" application. A major reason that the slideware hits walls sometimes is because it is just too linear and not interactive enough.


Nice blog. keep up the good work. i sure will regularly be coming back. You can check out my blog Solomon's voip world devoted to voip technology and internet telephony.


I have been wanting to have 2 separate displays on the laptop and projector (during a presentation).
It would be nice if my laptop has a "Previous - Now - Next" slide up on it at the same time so that I can talk ahead. While the projector has the slideshow going on.
The alternative of course is to prepare and prepare for a presentation so that I know what slide comes up next :)
But I never have that much time.

The best presentations I have seen are when the presenter talks something interesting and then validates his statements by some statistics/pictures/video by 'showing the next slide'.

I have tried to overcome this by having printouts with me but it hasn't worked well.

Juan Araya

I'm curious Garr. Do you go analog or digital for your datebook/to dos and daily organization?

I agree that one has to be very careful not to go always digital if its not better than analog. Since reading Tufte I've been paying attention to this and have found that many thought processes are dumbed down when going completely digital.

Love the blog.

Juan Araya


>I'm curious Garr. Do you go analog or digital for your datebook/to dos and daily organization?

Funny that you mention that, Juan. Yes, I do use an old filophax rather than a PDA. I bought a PDA (Handspring) when I was at Apple, but never really used it since I had "my whole life" so to speak on my PowerBook that I took everywhere (I ended up giving the PDA to someone). All phone numbers where in my cell phone. The PDA just never made it for me -- it was (is?) one of those technologies that you *really* love or you *really* don't get.

I was at a UG event when I was talking to a famous Apple legend about this (around late 2001), and he said at the time that the PowerBook was enough for him....it is all about simplifying he said. I know that for some people, a PDA can be a way to simplify, but for me, it was just one more piece of cold gadgetry that I really did not need. I do like a paper calendar for keeping track of events. I know I am 100 years behind the times in that (especially on the Mac). But it is just one of those things I choose to keep analog...

Juan Araya

Thanks Garr. I've been switching using a PDA and paper based system, comparing results. It seems I have a better "global picture" with paper.

Andrew Hollister

Tip for Solomon:

have you ever tried working with Presenter View in PowerPoint? MS adds an interface on your laptop screen, while sending slide show mode out to the projector.

You'll need to have the second display hooked up, and when you do, go under Slide Show > Set up Show. Look for the section called Multiple Monitors.

If you need any help with it, call or drop me an email andrew at fuse-inc dot com


Man, the last image of this post is SO beautiful! Congrats. Are these beaches from japan?

Matt James

I completely agree! When involved in the "discovery" part of a project, I love ditching my Powerbook and opening my notebook. Quick scrawlings on paper are great to get an idea of how something will work before it's built. I've seen all kinds of software that claims to aid in brainstorming, but all I can think about is how much easier it would be to do it in pen first. Such a hassle. And, of course, walking to work and back helps me relax my mind. Sometimes silence is an even better companion than an pen or a computer.

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