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May 2009

TEDxTokyo kicked major oshiri

Tedxtokyo_post The inaugural TEDxTokyo last Friday was an absolute success. In fact, it kicked some serious butt (oshiri). Sure, not all the talks were home runs from a delivery standpoint — but most were — and everyone on stage certainly made a memorable contribution that day. TEDxTokyo was an inspiration. Patrick Newell and Todd Porter and the scores of volunteers — such as Jason Wik on the tech side — did a fantastic job to pull this off. The long day at TEDxTokyo (though it seemed short) felt just like being at TED in California...with a Japanese twist. It was an amazing collection of presenters and 200 thinkers and doers from around the world who set aside a day to come together to reflect, share, and engage in Tokyo. The LIVE showing of TEDxTokyo (2500+ were watching live online) went very well (I received emails from viewers around the world on my iPhone in between talks with comments such as "hey, I can see you!" and "Barry rocks!"). In future some of the talks (all were professionally recorded) may appear online for your viewing pleasure. I'll let you know (or follow the TEDxTokyo blog).

Below is a short slideshow made in Animoto by iStockphoto founder Bruce Livingstone. This short slideshow will give you a feel for the day.

TEDxTokyo presenters get naked
Part of "presenting naked" means taking a bath in the onsen with your new TEDxer mates the night before. Of course, the best part of the hot bath is what comes after: the delicious food, cold beer, and great conversation with your friends. In this photo below from the Animoto slideshow, you can see best-selling novelist Barry Eisler and executive and environmental preservationist Bill Werlin and me at the Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari the night before the event. (See what it's like inside.)


TEDxTokyo 09 related links
7 min of Sherry Strong (my Flip recording)
TEDxTokyo party (a few Flip video interviews)
Anthony Willoughby's talk (recorded on my Flip)
TEDxTokyo Flickr site
TEDxTokyo Facebook
TEDxTokyo blog
TEDxTokyo on Twitter
Social Evangelist article on TEDxTokyo

TEDxTokyo this Friday in Japan

Tedxtokyoposter The unveiling of TEDxTokyo is this Friday at Miraikan — Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (down by Tokyo Bay). A ton of work has gone on in preparation for this event and the organizers Todd Porter and TEDster Patrick Newell have done an amazing job lining up a wonderful list of presenters here in Japan. Here you can download a PDF of the schedule and see who the presenters are.

The TEDxTokyo Themes
The day is organized around four themes:

  Session 1  How can we organize ourselves to make a difference?
  Session 2  What does it mean to be a learner today?
  Session 3  How do we use finite resources to propel ourselves in the future?
  Session 4  How does today decide tomorrow, from local & global perspectives.

Watch TEDxTokyo live
The registration for the event in Tokyo filled up a long time ago, but in the spirit of TED, TEDxTokyo is geared up to make the presentations available live of the web. Go here to watch the event live.

Follow TEDxTokyo on Twitter
TEDxTokyoYou can follow the day in Tokyo on Twitter in English (@tedxtokyo) and Japanese (@tedxtokyo_ja), and I'll be posting pics from my iPhone as much as I can (@presentationzen). I am heading up to Tokyo today and will be working with some of the presenters on Thursday.

TED Talks available in over 40 languages (and growing)
One of the coolest things announced this year is the TED Open Translation Project. Go here to see a list of talks available with translation. Below are a couple of my favorite talks from the past with translation. On the bottom of each video you can scroll to see if your language is there. Select your language and the subtitles will appear. (If you do not see your language, perhaps you can volunteer to be a translator.) What a valuable resource for those of us who want to share TED in Japan (and elsewhere around the world). It's all about the sharing of ideas.

Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen

Jill Bolte Taylor’s powerful stroke of insight

What is a TEDx?
The TEDxTokyo blog

Duarte offers slide:ology workshops via webinars

Workshopduarte In this post by Seth Godin, he list 45 ways that you can take charge of whatever professional situation you may be in and make a change. I like #16 — "Learn to be a killer presenter." Everyone can get better and it can indeed make a big difference in your career. You can learn a lot on your own, but workshops are still relevant and important learning environments for adult learners. Seminars and workshops are great, but given the current economic situation, it's difficult for many people to attend full-day workshops, especially when participation involves transportation and hotel costs, etc. Duarte Design, which has run many successful workshops at their head office in Silicon Valley since last year, has an answer for the recession blues: The Webinar. Last week Paula Tesch announced that Duarte will be offering a series of six webinars beginning on May 27 and continuing once a week until July 1. You can sign up for a single webinar or just a few, or sign up for all six and get a good discount. Even if you can't catch the webinar live you can watch it anytime after the event if you registered.

Each Slide:ology Webinar is 45 minutes in length and starts at 10:00am on the West Coast of the United States. Sign up here for the webinars on Duarte's website.

Slide:ology Webinars
May 27    Introduction to the Principles of Slide:ology
June 3     Connecting with Your Audience
June 10   Story and Structure
June 17   Design Thinking
June 24   Visual Storytelling and Design Part I
July 1      Visual Storytelling and Design Part II

Live in-person workshops
Duarte just finished up some full-day workshops. Their next workshops held in their offices in Silicon Valley will be from September. Go here to check out the details of their workshops. I do not usually do many public workshops — though I'll be in Wellington, NZ in July for some public seminars — so Duarte's workshops and webinars are something I am pointing everyone I know to checkout. I think the webinar is a pretty good deal. Also, if you know anyone who could benefit from reading Presentation Zen but they are too busy to go through the book, point them to this 50-min online video of the Presentation Zen Approach available on the PeachPit website. It will be available as a DVD in June as well. It's about 20-26 bucks — that's not cheap, but it's cheaper than bringing me from Japan to your living room (though I'd come for free if there were chocolate chip cookies involved).

Also checkout Decker Communications for great live training. Wonderful people!
The slide:ology book on Amazon.

Mae Jemison: The arts and sciences are not separate

Maejemison Mae Jemison is an astronaut, a medical doctor, an art collector, and a dancer. In 1992, Dr. Jemison was the first African-American woman to go into space. Since then she's become a crusader for science education, and for a new vision of learning that combines arts and sciences, intuition and logic. I think this 2002 TED talk below, recently featured on the TED website, is an important one to watch. The presentation itself is well structured, clear, and delivered with passion, although — and somewhat ironically, given her design sensibilities — the visuals used did not match the quality of her talk. Yet, I do not point to this talk as an example of great visuals or even of perfect delivery. Rather, I think it's the content of the talk that will cause you to pause and reflect, especially if you care anything about education. Dr. Jemison says it's foolish to even think in terms of having to choose between being analytical or being intuitive and likens this false choice to having to choose between being idealistic or realistic. "You need both," she says.

Art & creativity or science & analysis: a false choice
Thinking_boy Dr. Jemison's point is simple and it's not new, yet here we are today still thinking, for the most part, that science and the arts are completely separate from one another and that scientists are not creative and that artists and other "creatives" are not analytical. Worse still, we have educational institutions that guide students away from their artistic interests because "you'll never get a job doing that." What a waste. Looking back at my own K-12 education, I wish I had had more exposure to science and math, especially astronomy, physics, and statistics which were all but missing for me until college. But, I wish I also had taken even more art and music classes instead of avoiding fine art classes, for example, out of guilt that it was not serious academic work.

"If we keep thinking that the arts are separate from the sciences...and that it's cute to say 'I don't understand anything about [the arts] or I don't understand anything about [the sciences]' then we're going to have problems."   
                                      —  Mae Jemison

Brain_art_science I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to be Leonardo da Vinci or that we all should be enlightened, well-rounded generalists. We need specialization. But even specialists have gained from following their inherent curiosity and by following a more holistic approach to their own education, an education that extends far beyond formal schooling. Over the years I've met many people in the high-tech industry, for example, that in addition to being successful engineers and programmers, etc., were also talented musicians or had obsessions in the arts that went far beyond a passive interest or hobby. In spite of the stereotypes about "technology nerds," the successful ones I've met always struck me as being sort of modern day Renaissance men/women, possessing both a well-rounded eduction in the arts and sciences and a deep, deep expertise in a special field.

Mae Jemison: NASA astronaut, medical doctor, artist. (Photo: NASA)

Science or art? A ridiculous choice. The arts and sciences are connected. And our mission, says Dr. Jemison, is to reconcile and reintegrate science and the arts. Both the arts and the sciences, says Dr. Jemison, are not merely connected but manifestations of the same thing — they are our attempt to build an understanding of the universe, and our attempt to influence things (things in the universe internal to ourselves and the universe external to ourselves). "The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity — [they] are our attempt as humans to build an understanding of the world around us...."

Speaking of the role of art & music in education
Quincy Mae Jemison's TED presentation ties in nicely with a piece that came out this week by the legendary Quincy Jones called Arts Education in America. Quincy asks "...can we really run the risk of becoming a culturally bankrupt nation because we have not inserted a curriculum into our educational institutions that will teach and nurture creativity in our children?" The most interesting part of Quincy's article were the words taken from the 1943 War Department Education Manual EM 603 that got its recommendations on jazz completely wrong. (Read it — you'll be amazed.) Kind of makes you wonder what else — in spite of good intentions — our educational institutions and leaders are getting completely wrong today? If our recommendations are based on the assumptions that science is not a place for creative thinking or that the arts/humanities have no room for analysis and logic or that students need to make a choice about what kind of person they are — logical or intuitive — then something tells me we're getting it wrong. We need both science and the arts...and we need to do better teaching both.

"It has been proven time and time again in countless studies that students who actively participate in arts education are twice as likely to read for pleasure, have strengthened problem-solving and critical thinking skills, are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair...."
                                                         — Quincy Jones

Bill Strickland makes change with a slide show
Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity


"Ignited" by Pamela Slim

Pam_book I'm a huge Pamela Slim fan. I've followed her blog for years, and although we've never met in person, I somehow feel like I know her. We're certainly kindred spirits when it comes to work and ideas concerning thinking differently about life and business. So I was thrilled when I got my copy a few weeks ago of Pam's book Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur. You might think that this book would be another touchy-feely self-help book, but you'd be wrong. Escape from Cubicle Nation, like the blog of the same name, is an inspirational read with loads of practical real-world advice for entrepreneurs (or those thinking about becoming an entrepreneur). It's quite a large book (352 pages) but it reads very fast. Pam is also a sought-after speaker. You can get a feel for her style and her message in this Ignite presentation below which was recorded at an Ignite Phoenix event. (You can find the video here too on Pam's speaking page.)

Ignite: a great implementation of the short-form presentation
I love the Ignite format — 20 slides, advanced automatically after 15 seconds (total: 5 minutes). I actually like this format a little better than Pecha Kucha. Ignite short-form presentations are a little bit faster and a little bit shorter than the Pecha Kucha style (which is also good), and this often leads to tighter talks. The point of an Ignite talk is not to rush through the topic or to dumb it down, but rather to work within the constraints to illuminate and illustrate the essence of your idea and of your story.

Below is another example of a good Ignite talk given in my favorite US city, Portland, Oregon by "type nerd" Bram Pitoyo. Well done.

The Ignite presentation method (PZ post from Aug 08)
Ignite is even in Sydney now

Making presentations in the TED style

Seth TED has earned a lot of attention over the years for many reasons, including the nature and quality of its short-form conference presentations. All presenters lucky enough to be asked to speak at TED are given 18-minute slots maximum (some are for even less time such as 3- and 6-minute slots). Some who present at TED are not used to speaking on a large stage, or are at least not used to speaking on their topic with strict time restraints. TED does not make a big deal publicly out of the TED Commandments, but many TED presenters have referenced the speaking guidelines in their talks and in their blogs over the years.

Thanks to Tim Longhurst (The TED Commandments - rules every speaker needs to know) you can see the list in an easier to read format below.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
  2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.

In less than two weeks TEDx Tokyo 2009 will have its unveiling. I am advising some of the presenters on site the day before TEDx and pointing them to this particular post and other resources in the days ahead. There is not one best way to speak at a TED conference, there are many different ways. But what the good presentations have in common is that they were created carefully and thoughtfully with the audience in mind and were delivered with passion, clarity, brevity, and always with "the story" of it (whatever it is) in mind. So let the list of 10 above be your general guide. In addition, take a look at some of the TED presentations below. They all follow a different style but were effective and memorable in their own way.

Presenting fully naked, no slides, no script
Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?  Sir Ken knows what he wants to say and usually has 2-3 key points in mind, but he does not read a script or use notes. He makes good use of humor and story to illustrate his points.

Presenting with highly visual slides in the PZ style
Seth Godin: Why tribes, not money or factories, will change the world. Seth uses many, large colorful slides in his talks but the slides have very little (if any) text. Seth is out front totally engaged.

Presenting with slides kind of like Al Gore
Al Gore: 15 ways to avert a climate crisis. Al Gore became an engaging presenter with the aid of simple, high-impact visuals that helped him tell the story and give evidence supporting his content.

Using a prepared script from the lectern (no slides)
Isabel Allende: Tales of passion. In general, I do not recommend reading a speech at such a conference, but if you do read, do it in a way that is engaging as demonstrated by Isabel Allende.

Using a prepared script from the lectern (with slides/video)
Sylvia Earle (TED Prize winner 2009). Although Dr. Earle was using a script, she knew her material so well that it felt natural and the pacing was almost perfect with the visuals.

Presenting well in spite of superfluous, cruddy bulleted slides
Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do. Tony Robbins speaks for a living, and while I do not recommend swearing from the stage, Tony was able to engage a rather skeptical audience at TED in spite of poor visuals. Watch the presentation to see how.

Presenting in a way that makes an amazing connection with the audience
Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight. Dr. Taylor uses some slides and one prop (an actual human brain), but mainly she lets her emotions out and tells her story in an honest, sincere way. Amazing.

Presenting data with slides to tell meaningful stories
Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen. Who says data is boring? Data is like notes on a page, says Dr. Rosling, it's up to the presenter (the conductor) to bring the data (music) alive for the people.

Presenting in sync with many, many slides
Larry Lessig: How creativity is being strangled by the law. Who says you can't speak well to 200 PowerPoint/Keynote slides? No one does it like Prof. Lessig.

Presenting from the piano, the stage, & within the audience
Benjamin Zander: Classical music with shining eyes. What can I say? If you present with even half the conviction and passion of the great Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and loyal TEDster, you will blow their socks off.

These are not the only good presentations at TED, but these are some of the better ones. Perhaps you'd like to share your personal favorites from the point of view not just of content but from the stand point of preparation, design, and delivery.

Bill Gates vs. Bill Gates
Again, you do not have to use slides at TED (or TEDx, etc.), but if you do use slides, think of using them more in the style of Bill Gates the TEDster rather than Bill Gates the bullet point guy from the past. As Bill has shown, everyone can get better at presenting on stage.

Bill_gates_2.0   Bill_gates_1.0
If you have a short-form presentation to give, be more like the new & improved Bill Gates (left).

Using Keynote & iMovie to reach "Dot Zen"

A few weeks ago I received an interesting presentation from a young man in California who is, among many other things, interested in presenting information and telling stories with the aid of dots. His name is Jeffrey Monday and his blog is called Monday Dots. Below is an example of his work. He made this using Keynote (using the Magic Move effect) and did the voiceover using iMovie. It's not perfect (e.g., color issues) but I think this will give you some ideas.

"The Gamble" model
Take a look at this example below. Do the dots help his explanation?

Why dots?

In this video below Jeffrey explains why he uses dots in his presentation visuals.

How to make the presentation above in Keynote + iMovie
Below Jeffrey explains how he made the visuals.