Monthly Archives: August 2010

Surf and Tell: 3 Keys to Better Presentations

I’m not against PowerPoint, don’t think it’s from hell or the “devil’s tool,” and don’t have a problem with using it for presentations.  What I do have a problem with are presentations that bore me, that could have easily been a one page handout or email, and presenters that don’t communicate with me no matter what software they are or aren’t using.

That being said, here’s a picture of the MOST INFORMATIVE SLIDE I’ve seen in a long time!  It’s part of a presentation Jonathan Hoag delivered at the Drowning Prevention/Ocean Safety Conference on Kauai just last week.  It was so good I actually took a picture of it so I could refer back to the data. 

Basically, it’s a way to figure out how big the waves are going to be based on data gathered from off-shore buoys.  This is gold.

Maybe it’s just me and the fact that I’ve NEVER been able to figure out how to figure out this whole buoy, time interval, period, direction thing but for the first time I got a glimpse of what it was supposed to be about.  I’m giving props to Jonathan for a clear description and effective use of PowerPoint for my increased understanding.

Here’s three things he did to make it to my “PowerPoint from Heaven” list:

  1. First, he had a topic I cared about.  This sound like a no-brainer but if you’re delivering a presentation to people who have absolutely NO REASON to listen to you then no amount of animated text or cool transitions or funny cat pictures are going to help you.  “Know Your Audience” is still vital today.  Why do I feel that presenters don’t take the time to do their homework and get to know me? Now, there is something to be said for being able to demonstrate the importance of your material to your listeners and generate attention from that and I do agree that the burden is largely on the presenter.  Every speech class will give you the same tips for introductions that focus on this issue.  There all very similar.  Here’s a how-to from ehow with the second page giving the standard tips for intros.
  2. Secondly, Jonathan had a topic he cared about and owned.  It was obvious for me that he cared about his topic that helps me to engage with him in the conversation.  That’s a strange word to see here – conversation.  You would have expected the word presentation and been with pretty much the majority of presenters.  And that’s the problem.  Even though most of the presentation deliver appears to be one-way (outside of the q&a) the entire time is ideally a two-way communication, or conversation.  The other part of this point is that he “owned” the material.  This guy knew his stuff. Period.  When he said something I believed him. Please don’t try and fake it.  If you don’t know it, pick a different topic or refer. 
  3. The final thing is that he had effective visuals.  Outside of the one I took a picture of he had slides with giant waves on Maui, Waimea Bay during the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational and other spots along with the buoy data.  I was engaged and almost salivating when he finally revealed the slide with the multiplier how-to.  I was prepped and wanted the information he offered.  There was no need for fancy effects from the software.

Overall, good stuff.  It wasn’t a “perfect” presentation – those are rarefied events. There’s a couple of things I would offer to improve but who cares?!?  I can now look at buoy data and figure out how big the waves will be next week!  I’m set!  See you on in the surf 🙂

p.s. Here’s an image and a link to a NY Times article on really bad Powerpoints.  Worth reading.

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Powerpoint (NY Times article)

5 Star Dump! 5 Reasons Kailua’s Refuse Yard Can Match the Ritz!

I just had a 5 star service experience at my local refuse yard and it’s not the first time.  In fact, just about every time I go there I get what I would consider good to excellent customer service.  It’s not a place you would normally think of when you picture exemplary service but, Ritz-Carlton or not, the system works.

Here’s 5 reasons why the Kailua Refuse station is getting an A+ from me.

  1. They’re ALWAYS open: After loading up my truck with stuff from the backyard and garage, we didn’t need to look for a schedule to see if the dump was open because it (almost) always is!  Except for New Year’s day and Christmas (?) the dump is running 365 days out of the year.  And really, who’s going to be wanting to go on those two days?? It’s flat out convenient. Period.  A+
  2. They greeted me when I arrived: You have to stop and check your load when you first enter the Refuse area.  The guard (concierge?) at the front greeted me with a polite, cordial and respectful “Whaddya got this afternoon, sir?,” asked me some clarifying questions , told me to proceed up to the top and “Have a nice, sir.”  It was perfect.  It didn’t feel scripted, he didn’t look bored because it was late afternoon and he’d already asked 250 people other people the same questions, and he got the job done effectively and efficiently.  When I arrived at the top I was greeted politely again, asked more questions to clarify and assist me, and instructed to park in stall 4.  When I said “Thank you” the attendant there said “You’re welcome.” Politeness is so uncharacteristic at so many of the BUSINESS establishments I’ve seen that this really impressed me at my local dump.  Basic human interaction skills, baby.  Solid.  A+ Continue reading

6 Ways To Improve Your Life Steering With Values

Our values steer our actions.  – Polynesian Voyaging Society

A year or so ago my youngest son participated in a canoe race in Waikiki that was the busiest and most fun contest all year.  There were so many people on the already crowded beaches; it was crazy.  It was a slightly different format than normal.  Usually, the canoe clubs of my son’s age (14 and under) did a quarter-mile on a flat straight course.  In this race, the annual Walter Macfarlane Regatta, they would paddle straight out into the waves, circle a buoy and race back in, hopefully timing it just right to surf a big set back in.  The waves that day were pretty a good size, definitely not for beginners.  For safety, the association substituted an experienced adult in the steers-person seat (number 6) to see the younger crews safely out and back. My son’s crew didn’t win that race but they had a great time in the surf.

He hewa i kapua ka`auwa`a panana`ole.

The fleet of canoes without a compass landed at Kapua by mistake.

The person who is steering a Hawaiian outrigger canoe is responsible for making directional choices and course changes. They use a specially shaped paddle that is weighed in ounces to adjust the direction of a 500 pound canoe.

Our lives, our choices and actions, are likewise steered by what appear to many as small, unimportant things:  our values.  I’ve seen enough people and organizations over the past 20 years as a pastor and as a consultant who either minimized the importance of their values, had no values or had mission/vision statements that were not in alignment with their values. They had no compass, no way to know where they were or where they wanted to be. Continue reading