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Thursday
Sep092010

Creating and communicating meaning: Presentation Zen

What entrepreneurship and the art of presentation have in common is they are both really about creating meaning. This simple fundamental is often forgotten (or was never learned). In business, we need to make money, of course. This is a given. But the focus and the very reason one goes into the business should not be money. This is not because the pursuit of wealth is ignoble, but it may be a signal that one's focus is misplaced. If acquiring wealth is the primary goal of an entrepreneur, ironically the wealth will rarely materialize. This video clip below from a 2004 presentation by Guy Kawasaki at Stanford University explains this point better. "If you make meaning, you'll probably make money. But if you set out to make money you will probably not make meaning and you will not make money," says Kawasaki.

Tom Wujec on 3 ways the brain creates meaning
Make_meaning If you are going to create something significant that makes the world a better place, that rights a wrong, that solves a problem, or prevents the end of something good, then you are going to have to tell this story of meaning and significance to others. You are, after all, creating a cause not just a business. Those who have never been an entrepreneur assume business is only about money, and those who have never presented (or taught) assume it's all about information and data. Information is important, but information or data alone are not story. Information or data alone are not meaning. We need to show context and why it matters. We need to engage the whole mind of the audience when telling stories of our great or humble cause. And when we are telling our story, one of the best ways to augment our message is visually. Images and visualizations of data can show evidence and also tap our emotions. In this very short clip from TED University in Long Beach, Tom Wujec talks about how the brain creates meaning and how we can take advantage of that. In the end Wujec suggests we use images in three ways: (1) Use images to clarify ideas. (2) Use images to create engagement with your ideas. (3) Use images to augment memory with persistent and evolving views.


This is reprinted from my favourite blog on presentation, Presentation Zen- its author is globally recognised designer Garr Reynolds.

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