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January 2011

InFocus: Great people, great projectors

Infocuslogo "Do you need an in-focus for your meeting?" This was the question I was asked by one of the marketing managers in my first week of working at Apple in Cupertino about ten years ago. "What's an 'in-focus'?" I asked. "You know, a projector to show PowerPoint slides," she replied, with a look on her face that said she clearly thought I was from another planet. Close—I was from Japan. I had just joined Apple that week after living in Japan the previous nine years and I had never heard of InFocus. Epson, SONY, Mitsubishi et al dominate the projector scene in Japan, but I soon learned that — at least in our department at Apple many years ago — InFocus was like the Coca-a-Cola or Kleenex of projectors.

SInce I moved back to Japan I've been using several of the outstanding Japanese projectors. But last summer I received a note from the DIrector of Marketing at InFocus asking if I would come in to see their technology and meet their staff in Portland, Oregon. Since I was going to be in Seattle and the North Oregon Coast in August, I was happy to drive to Portland, the company headquarters, to meet with the InFocus marketing team. I had a great time and was very impressed with their stuff and with the warm reception they gave me; really great people. In the video below Scott Niesen explains how the day went down. (You can see two more videos from my InFocus visit here.)

The guys at Spitball Media joined our meeting at InFocus and made this short video.

With some of the InFocus team at their head offices in Portland, Oregon.

Thoughts on their mobile projectors
I liked what I saw at InFocus so much they ended up giving me three projectors to try out back in Japan. I have been satisfied with the projectors and I am happy to recommend them here. So far I have tried the two mobile projectors designed for the business market, though the InFocus IN1503 (short throw) would be excellent for teachers as well. I hooked up the Short-throw 1503 and the IN1102 Ultra Mobile at home today to see how they looked. Especially at the relatively inexpensive price point (for projectors) of under $1,000 (USD), I think the quality is great.

• InFocus IN1503 Mobile Short-Throw Widescreen
IN1500_list jpg This projector is not super small, but it is light and it is quite easy to carry. What is great about this projector is that it has a "short throw" which means you can set the projector very close to the screen and still get a big image. Text looks crisp and the high-rez photographs looked excellent, and the projector is plenty bright. Even with lights on the screen looked good. In this photo below (in our media room at home, snapped with just an iPhone), you can see that the projector is only about two meters away from the wall but the image fills that entire screen (horizontally more than 2.5 meters). You can get loads of details on this projector on the InFocus website and here on as well.

Even at only six feet away from the wall I had to zoom the picture in a bit on the short throw model to fit the image on a very large screen area.

• InFocus IN1102 Ultra Mobile Widescreen DLP Projector
IN1100_list jpg This mobile projector is not as thin as some of the Japanese models but it is still very small and light. It may just be me, but I thought the image on screen was even better that the short-throw projector (which was also great). The text and the colors of the photographic images were excellent right out of the box, but you can also adjust colors, contrast, etc. as the projector allows you to make fine adjustments easily. I have been using a very nice Sony mobile projector on the road, but I have decided to give that projector to my father in-law (a retired physics teacher who gives lots of astronomy presentations in Japan). I am keeping the N1102 and will test it more thoroughly on the road. It comes with a nice case which will easily fit into my small travel suitcase. In the picture below you can see that I had to push the projector back another meter or so to get an image that still did not fill the entire massive wall. This is normal, of course, but shows just how useful the short throw projector is above when space is super tight. For both projectors the room was bright and yet the images look excellent; there was no need to dim the lights except slightly directly over the screen area. Lots of details about this projector on the InFocus website and on

The small and bright IN1102 projects a really nice image.

Small enough
These mobile projectors may not be the smallest in the world, but they are certainly mobile, very light-weight, and both project beautiful images. To give you a feel for the size of the projectors my cat conveniently took a break next to the projectors in their bags which hold all the cables, etc. The combined weight of both projectors is still less than the weight of "Luke" a very large and laid back cat.

"Luke" the cat weighs more that the combined weight of both projectors.

Luke is taller than the projectors even when they are in their bags. Of course, Luke is one big house cat.

Science & the importance of having a sense of wonder

Ken-mogi_head Kenichiro Mogi (茂木 健一郎) is a famous brain scientist in Japan (he's often on Japanese TV programs) and a researcher at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Tokyo. He is a best-selling author of numerous books and he is also a very popular college instructor at Keio and Waseda universities. His Ph.D. is from Tokyo University and he spent two years doing research at Cambridge University in the UK as well. He's a very smart guy. Mogi-san is also a passionate teacher and speaker, as you will see in his 10-min presentation below from TEDxTokyo.

Yes you can (be a great presenter)!

Mogi-san_darwinI often mention the presentation skills of Mogi-san and many other famous (and not so famous) Japanese professionals to my trainees in my Japanese seminars because there still exists a belief among many Japanese that making presentations in this informal, engaging "naked" style is something that Japanese people just can not — or should not — do. People in Japan love the presentation approaches of Steve Jobs and Kenichiro Mogi and others who present in a conversational, visual, and engaging style, but often they can't imagine themselves presenting in such a way—my job is to help them imagine (and then do it). While many presentations by Japanese business people and academics are dull, didactic, one-way snoozefests, more and more we are discovering wonderfully engaging presenters here Japan. It is a myth that Japanese can not be effective, engaging  presenters. In fact, there is now great interest in "presenting different" here in Japan. Mogi-san is just one example of someone here in Japan who has his own unique way of connecting and sharing. His presentation — both in form and content — has lessons for all of us. Watch his presentation in English below or here on YouTube. (You can also watch the same presentation with 日本語 interpretation.)

Ken Mogi on science, spiritual significance, and the curiosity imperative
Mogi-san says that the curiosity of a child is something we must keep always with us. We must keep our sense of wonder. Mogi-san says that his own pursuit to understand the universe began when he was a child, and the key to that pursuit was a desire to explore. Science is about exploration. "You are not satisfied with passively getting information — you like to start your own exploration," he says. Mogi-san also stresses that through science and exploration we will indeed discover answers, but those answers will lead to even more questions as we uncover even more mysteries. Exploration and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is never ending. Far from being a discouraging thing, this is a source of inspiration and wonder. "Science can explain many things that we hold to be mysteries," he says, but he also adds that science is an open-ended pursuit — no matter how much you learn about nature, he says, there are of course more mysteries. My favorite line from his talk was this:

"By forgetting how to be curious we are losing something really valuable. Because curiosity is the single most important trait that brought us here today."  —  Ken Mogi

Ken_mogi_garr   Ken-mogi-butterfly
Above left: Sharing a laugh with Mogi-san at
the TEDx rehearsal in Tokyo. Right: Mogi-san uses simple visuals and shows good form by never turning his back on the audience.

Ken-mogi_science  Mogi-san_sentence
Above left: Mogi-san sometimes displays only a single word in large type on screen. Right: At other times a key sentence may appear. Either way is quite different from the usual way of displaying lists of bulleted sentences (and then printing those up as a "handout").

Above: Using the effective technique of closing with a relevant quote, Mogi-san closes by saying that it is great that we are learning many things about nature and solving mysteries of the universe, but we also must remain humble to the fact that we still know very little compared to the "great ocean of truth before us." (This photo appears on page 169 of the the Naked book.)

In his roles as a scientist, as a researcher, as a teacher, and as a presenter—Ken Mogi is an inspiration. 科学者として、研究者として、教授として、そしてプレゼンターとして、茂木健一郎氏は素晴らしいインスピレーションだ。もっと多くの日本人が茂木さんのように効果的で聞き手を引き込む「裸のプレゼンテーション」をし始めることを期待している。
An Interview with Ken Mogi (Law of Success blog)

We don't seek your perfection, only your authenticity

Brown What makes you vulnerable also makes you beautiful, says Brene Brown, a professor at the University of Houston who touches on some key issues related to her work on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame in a recent presentation at TEDxHouston. I'm always looking for good examples of regular people who do a good job of presenting naked. This talk is remarkable because it's a good example of both an authentic, natural presentation, and the content of the presentation itself speaks to the need for a naked approach to communicating and to living in general. I love this talk by Brene Brown and I highly recommend it. You will be able to apply lessons and observations from her talk not only to communicating and presenting but to many other aspects of your personal and professional life. I have not read her latest book yet — The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are — but based on her talk I certainly will be reading it soon. I love the themes and ideas put forth by Professor Brown in her TEDx talk as they very much overlap with the key themes of connection, engagement, authenticity, and passion that I touched on in the Naked book. Watch the talk below or here on TED. Below the video I touch on some of Brown's themes as they relate to presentation.

Where there is no connection, there is no meaning
We are hardwired for connection, says Brown. Yet all too often, connection — in relationships, in classrooms, etc. — is missing. Why? Fear is a big reason why we fail at making connections. We fear many things, but mostly we fear that if we put our true self "out there" for all to see we will expose our self-doubt and our private worries about whether or not we are really "good enough" or worthy of the connection. What we may fear most of all is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, but without vulnerability there can be no true human-to-human connection. Vulnerability is risky by definition, and most of us have been educated to minimize risk wherever possible. Yet, you can not have true connection without allowing yourself to be vulnerable. This is true for virtually any kind of relationship: teacher-student, master-apprentice, coach-player, boss-subordinate, presenter-audience, and on and on. It applies obviously to more intimate relationships among friends, and other loved ones as well. Where you hesitate and hold back, no connection can be created, and in a deeper sense, this hesitation to allow ourselves to be vulnerable is a source of much dissatisfaction and disharmony in our lives.

The courage to be imperfect
Brown_slide In the presentation above, Brown touches on what she calls "wholehearted people," people who feel worthy of love and belonging. Those who avoid vulnerability at all cost may do so because, at least at some level, they feel unworthy. Some of the things that "wholehearted" people have in common, Brown says, is (1) the courage to be imperfect, (2) the compassion to be kind to themselves, and (3) the ability to let go of the idea of who they are "suppose to be." We are by our very nature imperfect, but that imperfection is what makes us human. The ability to allow ourselves to be imperfect and vulnerable in our personal and professional relationships is the very thing that can open our world up to the possibility of deeper connections and more meaningful engagement with others. ("Worthiness" slide is from Dr. Brown's presentation.)

Passionate, naked, and vulnerable
While researching "naked communication" several months ago I stumbled on this wonderful quote by American poet and author Nikki Giovanni (which also appears in the slide below) : "A lot of people refuse to do things because they don't want to go naked, don't want to go without [a] guarantee. But that's what's got to happen. You go naked until you die."


I love the spirit of this. We should indeed go naked until we die. There are no guarantees in life except change. But will we jump on and embrace change and see where our passion will take us, or will we cling cautiously to the past and to that which is known and safe? Passion dies in an environment of fear and a yearning for guarantees and certainty. This quote below by Steve Jobs touches on a similar theme.


"Follow your heart" sounds trite and cliche perhaps — but following your heart is exactly what you've got to do — this is where connection and meaning live. Ask yourself what you would do if you removed the fear — what direction would you go? What if you could magically remove the doubt — which road would you choose? Identify your passion and follow that. How do you want to change the world? What's your contribution? Do that.

Fear is natural, but fear itself is not the problem. It is the attachment to the fear that burdens us. It's OK to be afraid, but move forward and know that you are worthy of meaningful connections. The attachment to the fear and doubt keeps us from making our best contribution, or even from truly loving another or being loved. Sometimes giving and accepting love is the hardest of all because there are never, ever guarantees. But we must go naked, we must take a risk, on and off the stage. The rewards are worth it — for us and for those with whom we connect.


The power of a voice, hope, and second chances

If you have even only peeked at the media over the past two days you have surely stumbled upon the Ted Williams story this week. I first saw the video of Ted Williams via Digg and Reddit before it turned into one best feel-good stories of the year (so far). At first I was going to put the link on my other blog, but this inspiring story actually does relate very well to many aspects of presentation. It first begins with this amateur video shot by a young man in Ohio. Watch the video.


Like everyone else, I was  blown away by Williams's golden radio voice. That first line out of his mouth was very unexpected and made me laugh with amazement. Wow. His voice is a natural talent, obviously, but he has worked on it as well he says. But what is the most interesting thing to me — and is frankly a large part of the reason the whole nation took to this gentleman and wanted to either hire him or see him do well — was the short interview included in the video that he did right there next to the freeway, where he essentially told his story. In that short clip he told his story with naturalness, honesty, and brevity. "Wait a minute," you say to yourself as you listen to Mr. Williams speak, "this man has an incredible speaking voice and he speaks with great clarity and a humble yet emotional tone that is very down-to-earth and human." You say to yourself, "This is a smart man with a very marketable talent, why is he homeless?" Without going into detail he tells us why in a way that most people can relate to (alcoholism derailed my own father's life and eventually killed him when he was just 48). In that very short interview Ted Williams does something most politicians and media stars rarely do, which is to just tell it like it is with heart, honesty, and clarity. His great talent *plus* his clarity of speaking and general likability which he projects so naturally is a large part why he is getting his huge break.

The video goes viral and the story grows
Williams started receiving many invitations from media outlets like CNN and CBS, etc. Below you can see an emotional Ted Williams being interviewed on the CBS Early Show in New York (he was in Ohio). You can't help feeling good for this guy; when he talks about his mother, well, I almost lost it myself. Watch it on YouTube or below.

Cinderella story
Well, thanks to the power of the speed-of-light media today, in a 24-hour span Ted Williams goes from "homeless man" to a job offer to work full time for the NBA's Cleveland Cavilers organization, and gets a house on top of that. An amazing story! At the 3-minute mark of his radio appearance yesterday you'll get to hear the whole thing unfold. Listen on YouTube or below.

Things are not always as they appear
After college and a stint in Peace Corps, I managed a homeless shelter for men in Oregon. I was about 25 or 26 at the time. It was then that I learned that my preconceived notions of homelessness were far too simplistic. The issue is not black and white. Every man who I interviewed who needed assistance had his own unique story about how he fell on hard times and had no place to go or no one in which to turn. Lots of sad stories. Usually it was a matter of bad choices or bad luck, but the men themselves, with very few exceptions, were not bad by any means. It's easy to forget, as we look away, that the "homeless guy" on the street corner is just a fellow human being. In Japan we have the famous story of Kaneto Kanemoto who spent two years homeless sleeping on park benches and scavenging through bins at convenient stores in Tokyo. While homeless he had the idea of starting a new kind of internet company. Today he is CEO of that company which is worth millions called OKWave, and he is a very successful and respected business leader. Yet how many people looked at him during his homeless days as being pathetic or worthless? Things are not always as they appear. In any event, I hope you will forgive me for this little digression. But I just thought that this is a great story in which to start off the new year. No matter how bad things may be, if you believe in yourself and never give up, great things may be just around the corner. 頑張ってください!

Here's to a happy and naked new year!

Naked_prsent Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2011 brings you much peace and happiness throughout the year. Here's to wishing that 2011 is also the year that more and more of us — researchers, teachers, business people, students — become truly naked communicators and naked presenters. Naked communication is one of the keys to improving our professional and personal relationships, and to gettings things done. Individuals and organizations, and the people they interact with, can benefit greatly by approaches to communication that open up the kimono and let others in. Transparency is paramount. Maybe this is the year, then, in which we'll see a reduction in fear-driven risk aversion, cluttered messages, insincerity, and obfuscation. Maybe this is the year that we'll see an increase in honesty, simplicity, transparency, clarity, and meaning. At least we can do our own small part by removing the barriers to clear communication whenever and wherever we can, and by embracing the tenets of presenting naked. I will continue do whatever small bit I can here to share information and resources and point you to many different kinds of people who present naked regardless of whether they use technology or not.

The Naked Presenter (the book)
Naked_in_england2 A few weeks ago my book called The Naked Presenter was quietly released. "The naked book" as people are calling it, focuses more on the delivery of presentations, regardless of whether you use multimedia and other visuals or not. Presenting naked with technology (or without) is an idea I have shared with people for many years. When I first moved to Japan a long, long time ago, I learned of the great beauty and importance of the Japanese onsen (hot spring). Soaking naked outdoors in the middle of nature, often as snow fell in the winter months, was something I found extraordinary. At this time I learned of a Japanese expression called hadaka no tsukiai (裸の付き合い) which means naked relationship or naked communication, the idea being that naked we are all the same. So in the naked metaphor, then, the idea is to strip away the superfluous and the nonessential and focus on what is important. When you present naked you remove the walls and obstacles to what really matters most, which is to make a connection with the audience, engage them with the content, and create a change. By design, the Naked book is a little bit smaller than the first two books in size so that it would be easier to take with you. The page count is 208 with healthy amounts of white space. Here are the seven chapters below:

  1. Naturalness and the Art of Presenting Naked
  2. Begin With Solid Preparation
  3. Connect with Punch, Presence, and Projection
  4. Engage with Passion, Proximity, and Play
  5. Sustain with Pace and Participation
  6. Finish with a Powerful Ending
  7. Continuous Improvement Through Persistence

The book also features special 2-page callouts by contributors Phil Waknell, Christopher Craft, Les Posen, and Pam Slim.

Connect, engage, sustain

Assuming that we know our material and that we have prepared well and have kept the audience's needs foremost in our mind, the real questions we have to ask ourselves then are (1) How can we connect? (2) How can we engage? (3) How do we sustain that engagement? Logic and structure are necessary, but so too is an emotional connection. In the book I talk about those aspects of delivery and also the idea of closing strong and improving your own skills through in the long-term through persistence.

Debuting The Naked Book in Europe

The first people to actually get their hands on the analog version of the naked book were here in my home of Japan in November and then in Italy, England, and France in snowy December. During my European tour I gave copies away at a special event in Milano, and later at the Apple store in London, and then after my lecture at Oxford University, and then every single participant at the Presentation Zen European Seminar held on the Microsoft campus in Paris got a surprise free copy of the Naked book as well as their own Presentation Zen Bento Box. (Thanks to Ideas on Stage and Pearson Publishing in France for those surprise gifts.)

A great crowd gathered in beautiful Milano. (More pics.)

Oxford_1   Oxford2
Fantastically lively crowd of faculty and grad students at Oxford University. Right: Freezing with my host
Andy Cotgreave. (More Oxford pics.)

During the PZ European Seminar held Dec 7 in Paris at Microsoft France.

Signing the Naked book at Microsoft in Paris. More Paris pics here, and here.

Presentation and the Japanese bath
I do not have a presentation up on the web yet which covers the material in the Naked Presenter, but back in August I gave a presentation and Q&A session on the Japanese bath as it relates to presentation at Duarte Design. Also, to get a better feel for the contents of the book, you may
Download chapter 4 from The Naked Presenter on the Peachpit Press website.

Watch video of presentation and discussion held at Duarte Design in August, 2010.

本当にありがとうございます! (Thank you!)
Although the book has been out a just short time, I really appreciate the kind emails I have received from around the world. A million thank yous! If you should find the time to write a review or mention the book on your blog, please let me know and I can point people to your post. No word yet on the translations, but German and Japanese versions of the Naked book will be coming out quite soon for sure; I'll let you know about other languages in future. Once again, I hope you have a fantastic 2011 and thank you so much for your support and encouragement over these many years. 今年もよろしくお願いします.