Daily Archives: December 6, 2011

Watch this Talk: John Bohannon’s Modest Proposal

The over use and abuse of Power Point has caused this to be the reaction most of us have to attending a meeting, “workshop”, or lecture.

It’s also caused a sort of creative Renaissance in the public speaking world, a new attention to design, strong development, and engaging delivery.

But, what if Power Point isn’t the best way to convey information, what if, as John Bohannon channeling Swiftian wit claims “bad Power Points are a serious threat to the global economy”? How serious? How’s 250 million dollars per day?

How does Bohannon figure this? By ingeniously calculating the number of work hours wasted on useless or poorly designed Power Points (there are 30 million new presentations created every day). But, the problem is deeper than that, Bohannon explains. Power Point creates “the illusion of understanding.” Power Point has been used as a distraction, as a false crutch for the presenter, as a way to lull the audience into sheer and utter complacency. For, what is Power Point about other than complacency? This is not a dig on Power Point on my part; I use both Keynote and Power Point regularly. However, the death by Power Point approach to creating slides is costly, and a waste of time and energy. Bohannon says, don’t cut the arts, use artists, specifically dancers, to convey information rather than Power Point.

He doesn’t just tell us that dance can help us process complex information more easily, he shows us by using dance throughout his speech. Dancers from the Black Label Movement act out the processes and beautifully executed ideas Bohannon. You can’t help but pay attention, even if the dance distracts you a bit from the speaker. It’s an ingenious and kinetic approach to presenting complex information. As one who tends to dance to match my mood during class, I’m all for a bit of kinetic reinforcement. What do you think?

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Inspired by Inspiration: Jill Bolte Taylor’s “A stroke of Insight”

My amazing comrade at arms, Alex Rister, shared with her readers this wonderful talk from TED.com, which I learned about in one of yesterday’s Professional Communication and Presentation TED analysis speeches: Inspiration: Amy Purdy on Living beyond limits.

I figured I’d add one of my favorite sources of TED inspiration, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, whose talk A Stroke of Insight moves and inspires me every time I watch it. Like Purdy, Taylor was an expert in her field of neuroanatomy who found herself experiencing what her patients experience–a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. She recounts the experience with humor, humility, and beautifully crafted metaphors (as Alex and the class are studying logos tomorrow, I felt it necessary to look for examples of amazing metaphors–metaphors are powerful rhetorical tropes; they show the inherent truth in something abstract by connecting it to a tangible experience).

Taylor experienced a complete and catastrophic shut down of the left hemisphere of her brain, and while it took her years to recover, it was the ultimate truth she was left with after the experience that provides lessons for viewers. Existing entirely in her right hemisphere, Taylor discovered her connection to the universe, to the great energy that links all matter together. The experience liberated her from her own ego, so much so that Taylor is in tears by the end of her talk. She chooses now to exist in the right hemisphere as a collective part of the universe, and invites us to consider what would happen if we chose the same.

Even if none of this moves you, Taylor uses a real human brain as a prop–that at least, should grab your attention enough to give this amazing talk a thorough watch and listen.

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