Spreading the word
December 05, 2005
Seth Godin says, "The more you give away, the more it's worth" (see original slide). I agree. If you want your ideas to spread big, then you've got to evangelize and get others to want to evangelize your idea or cause. You can't pay evangelists though. You can't pay your friends to love you and you can't pay strangers (or customers) to love your ideas. Apple User Groups,* for example, are incredible communities full of unpaid "Mavens" (a la the Tipping Point) that help spread knowledge about Apple products and technology, provide invaluable tech support (that Apple can't provide), and have "converted" a great many people "to the Macintosh way." What I'm talking about goes beyond just "selling" your idea, though. So what's the difference between a sales approach and an evangelism approach? According to the "father of evangelism marketing," Guy Kawasaki, "Sales is rooted in what's good for me. Evangelism is rooted in what's good for you." (See Father of Evangelism Marketing).
I'm trying to spread an idea. I'm trying to do my very small part to rid the world of awful, ineffective, time-wasting "PowerPoint presentations" that leave both presenter and audience feeling uninspired (at best). The idea that I'm trying to spread is that conventional wisdom about presenting is completely off kilter. Borrowing from the works and examples from such people as Lessig, Kawasaki, Jobs, Atkinson, Tufte, Sierra, Takahashi, and many others, and drawing on influences from the worlds of visual communication and design, Zen, cognitive science, multimedia, etc., I am attempting to shake things up a bit. The aim is to expose people to other ways of presenting and to get them thinking differently about their presentations. The more people hear me (and others like me) speak the more valuable this idea becomes. So, in the spirit of Guy Kawasaki's call that we revolutionaries "poop like elephants" (give of our time and spread our ideas generously), I gladly "give it away" when I can. And so do many, many others. It just makes sense to do so.
Evidence of my "pooping"
A few people have asked how the "free presentations" went last week, so here are some pictures from two of my presentations where I "gave it away."
Above: Speaking here in Osaka for the Osaka Sister City Association. Really nice people. Had a chance to mingle for an hour after the presentation over some tea and delicious desserts.
Above: Presenting for ACCJ at the Far East Headquarters of Proctor & Gamble in Kobe. A crowd of about 115 in attendance on a Friday night. (They had to bring in extra chairs). I spoke in English and had a simultaneous interpreter in the booth above. Some in the audience listened to the interpretation through headphones. The auditorium feels kind of like a mini United Nations. Wonderful place.
Above: I was happy a few of my Gaidai students attended the event. From left to right, Rafael (Philippines), Julie (Kenya), me (USA), Jesse (Canada), and Jose (Ecuador). (The image on screen is available at istockphoto.com).
Above: Since the last time I presented at P&G, they added a monitor in front of the stage which mirrors what's on the large, bright screen behind the speaker. This is a wonderful thing. No excuse now for anyone presenting there to hide behind the podium. Great facility. I even made a PDF of my Keynote slides and loaded those on the house PC. That way if my Mac froze (there's always a first time) I could just press a button and switch to the PC already connected and ready to go.
*(Although you can not pay evangelist groups, such as Apple user groups, I would like to see Apple engage these user groups more and make them feel a little more "part of the team.")
This is great stuff. I am so tired of seeing presentations that look like they were put together by elementary school kids or ADD teens. A good idea is better than gold, but a good idea that is not well executed/communicated is awful.
Thanks for your well rendered idea.
Posted by: Kierke | December 05, 2005 at 11:39 PM
Awesome post, and true; the best way to get something close to "excellence" is looking at the bests on the field.
Now, I would like you to speak of a subject that is making me mad... I have panic to speak in public. I just can't do it, I start thinking on how to get out (jump off the window, start running -this one I did once... oh my god-) and how to solve that problem without the common: speak in public, you'll get over it.
Is a common problem (I think, I read!) and there must be some way to break that sensation of "man, what I'm doing here, how can I get out!".
The bottom line: I can't do a presentation because of that ;-( can you talk of the subject here?
Posted by: Javier Cabrera (ClearYourMind) | December 06, 2005 at 12:01 AM
Garr: Excellent stuff. Always enjoy your posts and insights.
This line in your post especially, struck a chord: "The idea that I'm trying to spread is that conventional wisdom about presenting is completely off kilter."
I have tried to do the same in my particular area of communications. But the idea fell on deaf ears. No one cares much about whether the conventional wisdom is right or wrong. No one paid any attention to "the conventional way is all wrong, for all these reasons."
I got no traction whatever, until I switched the orientation head-for-tail, much like Kathy Sierra suggests. ("Help your users kick ass".)
People pay much more attention, when the message is. . . "If you want to be as dazzlingly engaging as Steve Jobs, if you want to mesmerize your clients and peers, do it like this. If you want to out-present that schlump across the hall, do it like this."
Then they pay attention.
Posted by: Walt Kania | December 07, 2005 at 03:50 AM
Nice photos. Remember that text (what you write on white boards, signs) photographs really well and helps your photos tell a story.
Posted by: matt | December 07, 2005 at 09:53 AM