Two presentations on chemicals & the environment
Making presentations in the TED style

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.


Matthew Bibby

Thanks for pointing out Jefferys work - great concept!


I have to confess to not liking these at all. The dot idea is OK but I don't find the execution good and his voice over is incredibly monotonous.

Warren Ediger

As Jeffery points out, "The dot can be anything," and that flexibility is it's greatest weakness: it can be and is anything, often becoming different things within the same presentation. And when it does, even when colors change and labels are added (often briefly), it's easy for the viewer/listener to miss or lose the connection between symbol and referent. It's ubiquity dilutes the specificity needed for a good symbol.


Excellent. What I like about this is that it bridges the gap - for some presentations you can find great ways to visually tell the story. However, for some stories or technical info it can be difficult to find a good way to visually represent it, that where the dots can really help.


I dig the use of dots, but I think they shouldn't be used as exclusively as Jeffrey uses them. I buy the reasoning behind going abstract with the representation of concepts. However, using abstract representations has some obvious limitations.

First, it is harder to identify and locate the concepts. What did those dots mean again? What are the axes? You have to spend more time setting up the concepts and their context, then you ask your viewer to hold that all in mind with little visual reinforcement.

Second, while dots might be prejudice free, that could work against you. Presenters want to make an emotional connection with their audience, if for no other reason than they remember better. Abstract representations have less chance of doing that. What's a more effective billboard? A dot holding a beer or an attractive person holding a beer?

Dots might be a good technique in certain situations: perhaps something too sensitive or complex that would benefit from abstraction. But, in general, I think they lack the visual cues and emotional content that presenters need in their visuals.

David M

The dot concept is a fine one, however Jeffrey needs some more practice to refine it. The visualization rarely matches or provide reinforcement of the message. This added to the overly fast pace of narration and slighly monotonous tone, means that the presentation is infact very difficult to follow.

There is potential here, thats for sure, but needs a little more work.

Lawrence Linn

I like it. Not sure I'd use it for everything. . .but a neat concept.

Garr - I have a very 'Zen' question for you. Do you prefer using a dark/black background or white/light backgrounds?

I've switched back and forth for a long time...but without any real good reason other than for a while white was just easier to work with not having to strip a lot of graphic backgrounds.

Other than white backgrounds possibly overpowering a dark room – and vice-versa – I've not heard many arguments for one versus the other. I'd be curious to hear your (and your readers) opinions on it.

- Larry


@Warren, @Will I don't think the point is to identify and locate the concepts. Think of the dots as hand gestures in a different medium. They emphasize the narrative point.

Betsy Hansel

I agree with those who don't find the dots so helpful. They do keep you watching the screen and the movement itself is interesting, but I found it hard to relate the dots, the movement, the triangles or the colors to the concepts being described. He first used the pyramid to describe a hierarchy -- easy enough to grasp -- but then the points of the triangle took on a whole other meaning. Colors didn't hold a consistent meaning, and at one point he had what I thought was a legend showing that red dots would indicate insurgency, but there were no red dots except in the legend. Maybe it wasn't a legend. What was he trying to say? I simply didn't understand.


Mmmmm i think the comments are a little harsh.. Jeffrey referred the dots helping "modeling" concepts... not for every style of presentation or message, but as for modeling I think is an excelent tool.. obviously not every technique Garr points at us must be the absolute thing, this is just another tool that we can use or know of so we can apply it..

i found it fascinating.. it really helps in the business that i am in.. thanks to Jeffrey and to Garr

by the way.. Garr just watched your presentation at Citrix, i was waiting for the webcast all week! =) liked it a lot, love the japanese interaction with the audience (makes me want to learn japanese) and the joda voice... take care!


The dots are a great idea - challenge yourself to tell stories with limited resources (dots) drives creativity so well done.

I'm sure Jeffrey would agree there are areas for improvement though I prefer to give him kudos for throwing his stuff out there and getting it close to the mark... keep going fella!

Bill Steele

Jeff Monday's use of dots helped me quickly understand his concept and how it helps explain the effectiveness of General Petraeus' leadership. Its simple elegance makes short work of something another speaker may have taken much longer to explain.


I really think it depends of the content of the presentation. In the first video you have ONE denominator, and the it makes sense, but what if you were to explain the different things in one presentation, would it then be appropriate? I doubt it.

But interesting indeed.
Thx - Tobias


For some reason, I comment I made on previous blog is no longer there.

Anyway, I like the dot presentations, and I wish I had Mac to be able to test it out. I do wish Jeffrey's delivery of the presentation was with more passion though. It was a bit monotone.

Well, let me repeat the previous post I made on a new tool, and it's actually more relavant to this post than the earlier one.

Have you ever tried It seems like a very cool tool, but did want to gauge what you thought about it.


I'm really impressed by this. While I agree with others that it doesn't work great for everything, I don't have the impression that Jeffrey is proposing the exclusive use of dots in presentations. It's a cool tool. I found many of the concepts he explained using dots to be nicely amplified by the use of the dot visual. Thanks for the lovely tip!

Victor Velasquez

This is a very interesting concepts. A dot is universal so everyone can be represented by a dot.

We understand this idea very well, since we also use it in our videos. Our visuals are universally understood and there is a tight synchronization with the spoken word.

In the videos you can hear the anouncer listing offsoring issues like "Excessive Rework" as an image of Michael Jackson is shown. We can called this technique "The Juxtaposing Technique".

Here is the Example:

Nick Shepheard

Great concept for simple stories.

I tried the dots idea out on a little picture (not a movie) on my own site. My wife hates it but that's probably my execution.

I found "the gamble" too much. Not the voice, but the complexity.


Nice, love the reasoning for using dots to communicate conceptually. Also love the how-to. I'll use that for sure.

Garr, thanks a lot for the nice find!

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