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- From “beleaguered” to “secretive”: how the tech media distorts how Apple operates. But substitute one other word, and you’ll “get” how Apple really operates April 22, 2013
- If a dumb shmo like me sitting in far away Australia got it so right about the iPad in 2010, why didn’t those smarties on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley see the future too? And still can’t… April 4, 2013
- Updating the Shaking book effect – better or worse than the original? January 2, 2013
- The Shaking Book effect in Keynote November 14, 2012
- Presentation Magic interviewed about presentation workflow, Keynote and helpful presentation equipment on the 5×5 podcast: Mac Power Users November 13, 2012
- Apple to livestream its October 23 Special Event live over AppleTV – as I asked for back in March, 2012 October 23, 2012
- PayPal Here, a card reader and app for taking payment on your iPhone or iPad finally comes to Australia, getting in before Square and Apple’s likely credit card system. August 2, 2012
- Dear Technology Section Editor: Ten ways you know your tech journalists should be switched from covering Apple Inc. to say, Microsoft or RIM July 11, 2012
- With Mountain Lion a few weeks away, and Retina Display Macbooks showing a very “uncinematic” pixelated Keynote, can an update be very far away? More evidence emerges of a rethink on Apple’s Keynote July 10, 2012
- Pilots, presentation skills and preparation: The crash of Air France 447 into the Atlantic – The official French investigative report shows what pilot training and presentation skills have in common July 6, 2012
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Tag Archives: Keynote
If memory serves correctly, reality TV shows have been around for about a decade starting with shows like Survivor and Big Brother. Others may argue that shows like Candid Camera, started and hosted by Alan Funt, were the real beginning … Continue reading
Hey, Apple: If you can stream Paul McCartney over iTunes Live on my AppleTV, when you can start streaming your keynotes live (like the one in a few hours)? Especially if you release an upgraded AppleTV – heck, I’d even pay a few dollars from my iTunes account and get up at 5AM rather than wait for the delayed replay
OS X Mountain Lion said to deliver full desktop mirroring over Airplay: Excellent news for presenters
Just a quick note, while I’m working on a longer blog post about my Macworld 2012 adventures, of the news breaking in the Mac environs of Mountain Lion, the next iteration of OS X.
I first saw it mentioned in a dramatic blog entry of John Gruber here (http://daringfireball.net/2012/02/mountain_lion).
At first I thought he was pulling his readership’s leg by the one on one nature of the preview he received with Phil Schiller and other senior Apple officials.
Then I saw the GigaOM blog entry here (http://daringfireball.net/2012/02/mountain_lion) supporting it.
What intrigued me was a hoped-for inclusion, beefing up Airplay, one of my favourite Apple developments especially for users of AppleTV.
Here’s the part I’m referring to:
For presenters with access to a data projector with an HDMI input, it means now also bringing along your AppleTV to your presentations, and not having to have your Macbook tethered by VGA or DVI to the “guest” cable in the lecture room or equivalent, which are invariably too short. And it takes care of sound cable too, given HDMI carries audio and video.
It also means you have your iPad or iPhone as a backup or ancillary device, able to quickly switch to show a movie or slide and thus move away from the linearity that plagues so many contemporary presentations.
It remains to be seen how Airplay and the AppleTV will work with Keynote in its Presenter modality (the presenter sees on his or her Mac both current slide and the next build or slide), but I can’t imagine Apple has not thought this important feature through in order to maximise this Mountain Lion feature.
Long anticipated and finally here it seems.
The vacuum left in presenting on things technology now that Steve Jobs has gone. Can All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher fill the gap? Um, er, No.
My preparations for Macworld 2012 are well and truly underway with flights booked, special guests invited, prizes being organised for attendees and reviewing my syllabus.
One of the things I’ve been doing in Presentation Magic workshops in 2011 is showing presentations by others and asking attendees to offer up a critical analysis of what they’re witnessing, based on the presentation principles so far addressed.
One of the primary sources for high quality presentations across a variety of styles and subjects has been the official TED website. Here, we’ve seen an increasing professionalism in the quality of both slides and presentation. Even Bill Gates has shown vast improvement.
Less so, but no less instructive, is the TEDx satellite circuit, where organisers can license the TED brand according to some very strict rules. Here, the quality control is much more varied, and occasionally one gets the feeling favours are offered to speakers by organisers. That was certainly my experience at the TEDx I attended in Canberra a few years back where I scratched my head at the inclusion of one or two speakers. Their presentations were poor, and seemed not to fit the theme of the day.
Moreover, the organisers had not thought to offer a vanity or confidence monitor for speakers, who continually turned their backs to the audience to view the screen behind them, some reading off their displayed slides. My tweets were very critical of the presentation style of some presenters.
This week, while on the lookout for more presentations to showcase at Macworld, I located the TedX BayArea Global Women Entrepreneurs event.
I was actually doing my usual search for all things Apple, when I located a talk at the event which mentioned Apple, by well known tech journalist, Kara Swisher.
I was aware of Kara’s work from her interviews with Steve Jobs, as well as her authoring a book quite a few years ago on the rise and fall of AOL, in which Apple had played a small part (if you recall eWorld).
Her talk was entitled, More, and on her blog called BoomTown, which is an RSS feed I see each day, this is how she had described it:
I recalled that Kara had been indisposed for the All Things Digital event in Hong Kong recently where she had planned to share the stage with co-host Walt Mossberg. And I was aware she’d suffered a stroke. Her speech description intrigued me so I was prepared to sit back and watch her for the standard 18 minute Tedx Talk.
Here is the speech below, from the YouTube site. Watch all of it before you come back, or just the first five minutes and make a mental note of your emotional response to what you witness.
What did you notice?
For me, there were several things that felt like the proverbial fingernails down the blackboard sensation.
1. Did she start her speech by dissing her host for mispronouncing her name? Did this set the tone for a rather snarky speech that followed? There seems to be no one safe from her sarcasm: United Airlines, Microsoft, Rupert Murdoch (her employer) to name a few.
2. Kara was placed between two screens showing her slides and spend about 80% of her time looking at the screens, and not at the audience. Even when the slides were no longer relevant to the story she was telling.
3. Within fourteen seconds, the thing that most got in the way of her presentation made its presence felt: “Um”. There were other connectors too, such as “Er” and “you know” but these did not grate on me nearly as much as the incessant river of “Ums”.
Now these might go right under your attention radar because the content of the speech is riveting and engaging for you. But for me nowadays, I attend to both process and content. Not just what is being said, but how are the ideas being conveyed?
In Kara’s case, I appreciated her attempts at sarcasm and the occasional self-depracating dig and had a laugh too. But there is a quantum of hubris in this speech which is unattractive and disengaging, not helped by the torrent of Ums.
Curiously, in her blog writeup of the speech she actually refers to her ums, viz:
“…women in tech, and, um, sparkly vampires.” (see screenshot, above).
So I decided to see what her talk would be like without the “ums” included, but leaving in other connectors and pauses. I imported the video downloaded from Firefox into iMovie and edited out all the ums. In a moment I’ll reveal how many there were in her 20″ speech.
You can see the results below, and do note that the video does jump about a little, so if this bothers you, just look away and listen, and ask if her speech flows better without the ums.
But the fun discovery was what I did with the edited elements. Sometime ago, I had work led on a Keynote project where we had to include a sound file of an interview. It was recorded in Garageband, and it was in there that I edited out long pauses, “you knows”, “ums” and long breaths to give the podcast some polish.
It sounded so much better and professional, smooth and flowing.
So in Kara’s case, I look all the out taken “ums” and put them together in chronological order. The resultant movie file is below, and I’ve topped and tailed it with the intro and finish elements. What’s astounding is both the number of “ums” and how much time they take up out of an 18″ speech (actually it was more like 20″).
So, how many “ums” were there? Watch the video below, and I’ll give you the number below it.
If you can be bothered counting, there are about 96 Ums which fully take up a minute of her allotted time. That’s 6% of her total speech in connectors.
A little analysis
There are many ways to think about these utterances. Rarely do they add to the comprehensibility of the speech. For a few of them, they are cues for the audience to laugh: “Hey, I’ve said something funny – this is where you laugh.” It allows the audience to take a moment to digest what’s just been said before Kara moves on. Stage actors in rehearsal without an audience need to know from the director sometimes when to pause when the audience is expected to laugh, otherwise the next funny line goes unheard.
Jack Benny would merely pause and look at the audience for it to be their cue to laugh.
Other shows of course employ a laugh track to goad us into enjoying the performances. And many other comedians have found their own way, from the raising of an eyebrow, or the curve of a lip, to let you know it’s OK to laugh at this point.
However, in Kara’s case there are less than a handful of these. Most of the ums are signatures of other less redeeming aspects of a presentation.
To my eyes and ears, these other ums and other connectors like “er” and “you know” are signs of under-preparedness, too little rehearsal, anxiety, and attempts to wing it, possibly in the belief that the spontaneous retelling of her story will suffice.
Let me be straight with you. I don’t rehearse all eight hours of my Presentation Magic workshops. I do rehearse each of the slides and how best to use it to tell my story. I don’t write the lines out, nor add them to my slides in Keynote’s presentation mode. Rather, every so often I’ll use the Post-It note style comment icon to remind me of the movie that’s coming next, or a factoid that I’ve forgotten on a previous occasion. But I don’t memorise every word. I simply rehearse – lots.
In a TED talk however, you’ve only got 18″ minutes to make your story count, no matter how famous you are. You need to be rehearsed and unless you’ve really got vast experience winging it, like a stage comedian dealing with hecklers, you’re better not hoping for the best on the day.
Kara’s “um’s”, snarkiness and her leaving her essential message right to the very end – it’s OK to work to your own schedule even if you’re ill - requires her to use Steve Jobs to provide ultimate evidence of her belief. He arguably produced his most influential and lasting creations while fighting cancer, so anything’s possible if you apply yourself.
I tweeted Kara to say I had watched her speech but her “ums” needed some work, to which she replied shortly afterwards, ”forest, trees”. Our next tweets ended up with her reinforcing her point I simply didn’t understand her speech, and ultimately would never “get it”.
Kara’s a very influential person in the tech world, an employee of Rupert Murdoch’s, but ultimately when you get up on stage in front of a live audience and another one which may number in the thousands who’ll watch you for years to come on YouTube, you owe it to your audience to be rehearsed and prepared, especially if you want your story to be persuasive. I include modifying your idiosyncratic speaking style to minimise your off-putting connectors. It’s something I continue to work on for myself.
By the way, I did give some thought that perhaps her anxiety or frequency of “ums” was a possible aftermath of her stroke, but locating other speeches she’d given before the stroke suggest this is Kara’s usual speaking style.
Your thoughts? Am I making too big a deal out of this, or did I miss something that is important to you?
UPDATE: Two predictable responses on Twitter and on a blog.
@karaswisher asks on Twitter if I have nothing better to do (presuming she’s read the blog) and the simple answer is we’re on holidays here in Australia, so things are slow, and I am putting together my Macworld syllabus and Kara’s presentation is a possible inclusion. Many people do want to know how to control their speech style even in workshops on Keynote. It’s value adding.
Over on his personal blog, Jose de Silva essentially agrees with Kara that I’ve mistaken the forest for the trees and have lost sight of locating a presenter’s content. My counter-argument (which I would have written on his blog if comments were allowed) has always been that audiences should not be made to work so hard to decipher the message. That you can assist the transfer of learning process by making it easier through an understanding of adult models of learning (see the work of Richard Mayer for examples), stagecraft, design and rehearsal. Make an audience work too hard and no matter who you are or your subject, they will disengage and reach for their iPhones to play Angry Birds.
I agree with Jose about Kara’s being a superb journalist with a little snark, and perhaps not having time to better prepare her speech. Is this a sufficient explanation? No, it’s not. One can do both. (Or, to parallel Apple, don’t ship a product until it’s ready and capable). We can all do with a little help with our presentations, and I have only just missed out seeing Edward Tufte in New York January 23 because I booked my flights to Macworld too swiftly without checking Tufte’s 2012 schedule. My learning plan for this year is to see him and Stephen Few and really upskill my data visualisation prowess. This is especially as I’ll be targeting scientists and educators this year with my Presentation Magic workshops and blog. Finally, if you look around the various presentation blogs, I’m one of the few who puts up his unedited workshop evaluations in all their “glory”, not just positive testimonials.
You gotta take it if you’re gonna dish it!
Happy Holidays, Joe and Kara!
UPDATE: It may have something to do with this blog entry, but Kara has now blocked me from following her Twitter feed. Quelle domage.
With the passing of Steve Jobs, its primary beta tester, has Apple now orphaned its presentation software, Keynote, which hasn’t received a major update for almost three years. Will dissatisfied users abandon it for Powerpoint (which Jobs despised)?
I’ve just finished reading on my iPad and iPhone Walter Isaacson’s superb biography of Steve Jobs. I knew much of the story he told from the various unauthorised biographies as well as individual blogs written about him, as well as movies such as “Triumph of the Nerds” and “Pirates of Silicon Valley”.
I saw Steve a few times up close when I visited the Apple campus in the last few years, but never had a chance to speak with him. I can certainly fantasise that he many have read some of my blog articles about Apple products such as the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and of course his presentation software of choice, Keynote.
In more recent years, he spoke of hoping to keep Apple’s DNA alive after he was gone by dint of the new Apple building he has commissioned to be built on some previous Hewlett-Packard land. Perhaps he had read of the “Apple DNA” concept on my blog article in December, 2004, a screenshot of which is below. It is on this website that I first suggested Apple ought to make a tablet (I nicknamed it the iScribe) which would be brilliant for Keynote users to remote use:
(If you can find a description of Apple’s DNA earlier than 2004, please let me know!)
I’m sure many readers have fantasised what they would have said to Steve Jobs if they happened to meet him, and perhaps some of you have! My other fantasy includes him walking into my first Presentation Magic presentation at Macworld 2008, saying “This sucks!”, then taking over the show to share his presentation ideas. How I and attendees would have had special memories to take with us had that happened!
But before you think it merely fantasy, others in the health professions have indeed been on the receiving end of Jobs’ “advice” with regard to their presentations, especially when they used Powerpoint.
Walter Isaacson’s Jobs’ biography mentions his distaste for Powerpoint, and slideshow-based presentations in general (save for his own keynote presentations) on six occasions. You won’t find Powerpoint or Keynote listed in the book’s index, but in the iBooks’ version I have, you can of course do a global search for keywords. So, here you have them:
We’ll work our way through some of them because it’s quite illuminating to hear what someone who presentation bloggers and authors rate as one of the world’s best presenters (and the world’s best CEO presenter) has to say about Powerpoint, and presentations in general.
Let’s start with the final reference where Jobs is very ill, and his wife Laurene and others have organised various medical and genetics research staff to investigate where next in his treatment:
One could just imagine Jobs focussing on the expectedly lousy Powerpoint slides of medical researchers while they’re focussing on his genome sequence for which he’s paid $100,000!
But earlier on the book, when Jobs has returned to Apple and is setting about constructing his “A” team to resurrect Apple, we see how he eschews presentations with slideware when he believes it takes from, rather than adds to, the creative process:
“People who know what they’re talking about don’t need Powerpoint”
This might sound strange coming from someone who was the original beta tester for Apple’s Keynote, and who continued to employ it to show Apple’s wares right up to the release of the iPad 2.
But as I have written elsewhere, a Jobs’ keynote does not engage the audience in a dialogue. The audience is engaged with the story he tells of Apple’s products and services, where he employs Keynote like a storyboard, outlining a roadmap. It’s not used as a lecture technology, as an adult training tool, or as a brainstorming of ideas technology. Jobs never hid behind his slides as so many people do, preferring their slides to sell the story. No, Steve emulated for us how the slides were adjuncts to our spoken stories, never getting in the way of what the presenter was saying or doing, but ready to illustrate ideas when words were not enough.
With Steve’s passing who at Apple can carry the torch for Keynote? The obvious answer is Phil Schiller who, after Steve, is most associated with demonstrating iWork in action at Apple keynotes, and showing us updates.
But is Phil invested sufficiently in Keynote to see it continue to be updated with features for a contemporary presentation population, both givers and receivers who have become steadily sophisticated in their expectations.
I say that with some sense of caution however. I was sent a link to YouTube video of several start-ups competing for venture capital, each giving a recent 3 minute presentation.
You can watch it below. But let me remind you that since the release of Lion 10.7 and a point update for Keynote, many in various discussion groups have complained of considerable unhappiness regarding the auto-update feature, which for some means minutes of spinning beach balls for even the slightest of changes to a slide. It has meant on Apple discussion support boards that some have either reverted to Snow Leopard or an earlier edition of Keynote so as to bypass the auto-save feature, or have returned (shudder) to Powerpoint.
So when you watch the video below, bear in mind two things:
1. There is still plenty of room for presentation skills training to judge by the young group of entrepreneurs missing the central point of their presentations, viz.: their failure to appreciate the most important obstacle to overcome as soon as possible is the audience’s fundamental cognition: “Why should I give a $%# about your product?”
2. Feel some empathy for the first presenter, who uses the organiser’s Powerpoint (Mac-based) when it falls over (at 2min56sec):
Notice too what happens when you don’t provide speakers with a vanity monitor, which I have been discussing lately. You’ll see how often the presenters need to look over their shoulder to see what’s happening and lose contact with their audience. Not good when you’ve only got three minutes to persuade people.
You’ll also see many presentation errors with the slides (perhaps I’ll use this as an exercise at my Macworld presentation), which shows I hope that even young, hip entrepreneurs whose presentations really count can so easily be sucked into the Powerpoint vortex of lousy knowledge transfer.
So the mission Steve started in 2003 with Keynote 1.0 is way from over, I believe. Yet the last significant update to Keynote was in 2009 when it moved to version 5, as part of iWork 09, giving us MagicMove (which has become a default Apple transition for their keynotes), some new chart animations, and some remote apps for iDevices.
In two months, it will be three years while its users have patiently waited for Keynote’s multitude of shortcomings to be dealt with in the form of a brand new version, making a significant form and function leap as did Final Cut Pro X.
Yet without Steve there to champion it, as he did in the final period of his life, who within Apple will take it to Tim Cook, hardly renowned so far as a presenter par excellence, and the senior executive team, and offer up an improvement?
Apple keynotes themselves have settled into a very predictable pattern, with incredibly overused build styles, such as the “anvil” whenever amazing financial figures are displayed. In the last few keynotes we have not seen any hints of new effects or styles, although of course there could be events happening outside of visual awareness, such as the much sought after timeline for more precise animation and build timings.
What’s worse, Apple’s own internal briefings using Keynote which I get to see when my MUG has an official presentation from an Apple rep., are merely Powerpoint converted to Keynote, and I recall conversations with my iWork contact who lamented the generally low level of presentation skills using Keynote performed within Apple’s various divisions. It’s probably why people like me and Larry Lessig were invited to present to the Keynote team, not just to discuss what we wanted in future Keynotes, but for the team to witness how to Present Different.
Prior to the current version 5, the longest time in Keynote’s history when its users had to patiently wait for a new version was twenty four months, between versions 1 (released January 2003) and 2 (released January 2005).
There were some minor point updates in that time, more for stability than features. Version 2 was a huge improvement, almost like going from OS X 10.1 to its first really useable, put away System 9, version 10.2, Jaguar.
Three years is a very long time, although if one lives in the Windows Powerpoint world, where in the last decade you go from PPT 2003 to 2007 to 2011, it’s not so remarkable. And in the face of continuing updates of significance to the iPad version of Keynote, perhaps not all hope is lost.
But unless we see something new soon, and the current Lion auto-save issue is resolved, I fear issues of abandonment will continue in the face of Apple’s seeming orphaning of what appeared to be one of Steve Job’s favourite applications he loved using himself; one where we watched its use in amazement not just of the products he showed as emblems of Apple’s DNA, at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, but of the “how” he showed them, the likes if which in a CEO we won’t see for a long time.
Having updated today to Lion, one of the first things I then did was check Software Update. There ready to be downloaded was a 96MB update to Keynote 09. No, not a new Keynote, just an update for Lion feature compatibility including auto save, full screen, resume and soon to come, iCloud features.
But hidden inside keynote are two builds which we have seen demoed in recent Apple Keynotes.
One build in features an image or word dropping and kicking up dust, which Keynote calls “Anvil”; and the second is a build out for text only, which is referred to as “Fall Apart”, where the word’s letters seems to individually break away from the main word and fall. We saw this effect when Steve Jobs first showed the iPad 1 in January 2010 and contrasted it with the current crop of netbooks. The Anvil drop has since been once of the most used builds in subsequent Apple keynotes.
A cursory look through Keynote’s transitions shows nothing new, and layout of the inspector and thus feature set is still Keynote 09.
The waiting for Keynote X or 11 continues…
While the 3 year old will yelp with delight when they discover the iPad’s games, the 80 year old will quietly say, “I get it. This is what computing’s about.”
I had dinner last Friday with colleagues with whom I had studied and graduated in Knowledge Management from the University of Melbourne. That course, which was a grand experiment to combine the talents of academic staff from the University’s Education, ICT, and Business/Economics schools lasted but a few years.
Its driving force, recently retired Professor Gabriele Lakomski attended the dinner, and asked when I first started the course with her. In fact, I was in the first intake of 2003, and I remember it clearly, I told her. It’s because in 2003, Apple’s Keynote was introduced (along with Safari and 12″ and 17″ Powerbooks), and I used it very early in our course, some time in March or April. (You need to know that the Australian university year runs from March through November.)
Seated next to us was another student from the same intake, Victoria, and when I said to Professor Lakomski I still remember my first use of Keynote in class, Vicky exclaimed, “Yes, I remember. It was the study on British Aerospace Industries!”
Now this was seven years ago almost to the day, and she still remembered the presentation I did! This was because for all in the class, it would have been the first time they saw Keynote (and me) in action anywhere (unless they had seen the 2003 Macworld Jobs-delivered keynote). I still remember the “oos and ahs” this rather mature student group spontaneously let out when I first showed Keynote’s cube transition, and some red call out boxes to highlight data.
Seated at the same dinner table last Friday were students who entered the course after I had completed my studies, and whom I’ve met at other functions organised by this very social graduate group. One, Winston, works for a very large car manufacturing company whose world headquarters are in Detroit, and was in receipt of bailout money in recent months. The company has been part of the Australian manufacturing sector since the 1940s, and their vehicles remain very popular with Australians.
Somehow, the discussion moved to the iPad, perhaps after I had excused myself from the table to answer my iPhone, and Winston suggested on my return he was interested in getting an iPhone too. I suggested he wait a little while, perhaps June or July, when a new model might become available, and from there a discussion took place about the iPhone’s place in business now that Microsoft Exchange could work with it. It was a quick skip to speculation about the iPad.
Winston put me on the spot to pronounce why the iPad was a better choice than a netbook, which in Australia would be half the price and pack more features, such as a camera, “real” keyboard, iPhone tethering, and the full Microsoft Office suite.
My response was to suggest that the iPad should better be considered not as a computer in the common use of the term, i.e. a notebook or desktop device, but as a knowledge management tool in its own right, and rattled off the sort of apps it would inherit from the iPhone as well as those likely be designed to take advantage of its speed and screen size.
I suggested to Winston that the iPad would have limited initial appeal to computer wonks who wanted merely a smaller form factor for Windows-based computing. It would fail their needs. But I then suggested that there would be huge numbers of ordinary people with very limited knowledge of computer innards and workings – that is, the vast bulk of the Australian population – for whom the iPad would elicit the spontaneous remark:
So this is what computing should be!
No menu bars, no operating system to fiddle with, instant on and ready to use at the simple touch of one button, yet also have powerful business applications such as iWork and Bento and Evernote should this group of users work its way up the skill and learning curve.
When Winston said he had elderly parents who had never touched a computer but had expressed interest in what their use might bring to their lives, I asked him in all honesty which he would buy them: A $400 netbook running Windows Xp (then add the cost of Microsoft Office 2007) or a $650 iPad plus the $50 for iWork + Bento?
The picture of 75 year old mum and dad sitting on their couch wrestling with a netbook with its tiny keyboard and poor resolution screen was enough to observe Winston momentarily pause in his tracks to reconsider his options. Yes, for him, with his background in engineering, a netbook was a no-brainer. A good match for the problems he wished to solve.
But he acknowledged that perhaps he had been too quick to judge the iPad from his own perspective of what he thought computing was about, and not see it from another’s perspective. Of course, being the empathic psychologist I am, this is how I work! It wasn’t to him I was suggesting the iPad made sense, but to the many people for whom, like Winston had learnt for himself, the iPhone had delivered mobile telephony bliss – this is how a phone should work.
Now the same group would discover that the same training they had voluntarily undergone to understand the iPhone and make it a valuable and enjoyable part of their daily living was transferable to the iPad.
In Knowledge Management, one of the key elements, perhaps a Holy Grail, is knowledge transfer: how those with vast experience in complex systems which may take decades to accrue, can transfer this unspoken knowledge to those new to the organisation, lest it be lost when they leave or are fired.
(To illustrate this concept, I often invoke the sad story of Ansett Airlines, to whom I consulted, being sold to Air New Zealand in a fish-swallows-whale story. Management of its Boeing 767 fleet, one of the world’s oldest at the time, was handled by staff in New Zealand while the aircraft were serviced in Australia. Knowledgeable staff who knew these aircraft like they were their own children with their own personalities were let go, as if the aircraft were just hunks of metal. Ultimately, because of oversights, essential Boeing-driven examination for potential cracks in vital engine areas were not performed, and the fleet was grounded not once, but twice. It spelt the ultimate demise of the airline after seven decades of operation, not helped by the entry of brash new airlines like VirginBlue, and a federal government prepared for the airline to fail.)
Whenever you hear someone dissing the iPad as an overgrown iPod Touch, congratulate them, not mock them, for getting what Apple’s on about. They have given us a very practical example of knowledge transfer, something we take for granted whenever we walk to a door and see the “push” or “pull” label to know what to do, without needing further knowledge in physics or mechanical engineering.
With the iPad, school’s out when it comes to having to learn how to operate a computer. The funny thing is, watch what happens when you give a three year old, and his or her great grandfather an iPhone without instruction what to do to make things happen. That same intuitive but unspoken “I think I can understand this device just by toying with it using my fingers” will occur.
While the 3 year old will yelp with delight when they discover the iPad’s games, the 80 year old will quietly say, “I get it. This is what computing’s about.”
Presentation Magic at Macworld 2010 – using Penn and Teller to demonstrate some of Keynote’s magical effects
Because I’m not placing my Powertools file on the Macworld website for attendees to review (I used several Keynote files, the main one being more than 2GB in size), I thought I’d share some of the Presentation Magic workshop here on my blog.
One of the changes I made from last year’s workshop, was a more definitive “behind the scenes” look at how I created various effects and why I employed them.
In 2009, quite a few attendees wanted me to stop during the presentation and explain what I had done with Keynote to achieve the effects I displayed. It was a little offputting, with some people feeling it interrupted the narrative “flow”, while others felt they had missed out on something important for their professional development (the “how I did it” part.)
So this year, I made a more planned and strategic workflow which emphasised some of Keynote’s overlooked tools which don’t really get that much attention. Sure, the transitions, from the supersmooth “dissolve” which Powerpoint 2010 might get close to, to the “smart builds” like MagicMove get Keynote much of its attention from audiences who only know Powerpoint.
But early in my workshop I wanted to discuss basics like the layering in Keynote – the “bring forward, send to back” menu items. part of the Keynote “Arrange” menu, below:
This menu item is one of Keynote’s secret treasures, but so often gets overlooked in favour of more sexy, but too often employed effects for effects sake. Just think how tired you may have become of the “cube” transition which so excited us when Steve Jobs first showed it in 2003′s Macworld keynote, below:
During his introduction of Keynote, Jobs emphasised that each night, we sit in front of our television sets and watch production level transitions and effects, and it was these he wanted Keynote to emulate. You don’t want to know the transitions and effects Powerpoint 97 was using when Keynote was introduced! It was no surprise the Macworld keynote attendees applauded loudly when Jobs showed these transitions. It was a paradigm shift, because we didn’t know we could have production level graphics effects on a PC, much less using software costing $99.
I must say I now rarely use the cube transition, especially now that Powerpoint 2010 has included a version that seems to work reasonably well (prior attempts were lamentable). With Powerpoint upping its game, expect to see more people overusing these “new” inclusions in it, effects which Keynote users have taken for granted since 2003.
The way I introduced the Arrange menu was to briefly discuss very early in the day the basis for Presentation Magic’s name, something IDG Macworld Expo MD Paul Kent and I came up with in 2008. (He had wanted to call the User conference I delivered “The Zen of Presentations”, but out of respect for Garr Reynolds I rejected that and Presentation Magic was what we came up with). For 2009, my first two day Powertools workshop, Paul had asked me this in July 2008:
“The path to success for the two day class is to clearly describe how you will BOTH take attendees inside the keynote features that will make their presentations stand out, AND, how you will provide valuable insights how to structure presentations to best use a software tool to communicate when public speaking. In other words – the class should be more than just whizzy transitions! I’d be happy to read any drafts you come up with and offer suggestions. You did such a great job last year – I’m sure you understand the essence of what I’m asking you: the attendees want to do magic with the software, but we also want to help them with the invaluable advice of crafting and delivering memorable presentations.“
I took his use of the term “Magic” seriously, and began to research the psychology of magic, given it is one of the oldest performing arts. But also because in using Virtual Reality in my clinical psychology practice, I am attempting to use the age old principles of magic to misdirect and deceive to produce a clinical effect. In this case, to raise levels of anxiety so as to practice a variety of interventions. In professional magic, being deceived is perceived as delightful and engaging; in clinical psychology, it gives one an opportunity to help patients retrain their anxiety-generating mechanisms via exposure and arousal modulation practice.
There is also a code of practice for professional magic, much like there is for professional psychology. One of them is not to reveal your secrets to non-performers. So I was aware of “spoiling” the magic of presenting by showing how I conceive then construct my presentations. The task was to integrate the psychology of presenting (ie the stuff about being persuasive and memorable) with the little behind the scenes trickery Keynote can let us perform to get the Wow factor without it being “whizzy” to use Paul Kent’s term, above. And at the same time, I wanted to keep the workshop flow going so we didn’t get bogged down in the sort of “how to” detail better suited to a Macworld MacIT workshop.
The clue to do this came about when I stumbled across a Penn and Teller YouTube video. These are two of my favourite performers, not just for their magic acts, but also their television show, now in its seventh series on Showtime, called “Bullshit!”, below:
The video I discovered, and subsequently showed at Macworld, was a performance showing Teller, the silent one on the right, above, walking out on stage to a bass guitar accompaniment played by Penn Jillete (left) who narrates a story of magic’s sleight of hand’s seven basic elements which Teller demonstrates. But half way through the video, Penn has Teller turn 180 degrees, to show the audience the magical elements in action, revealing how Teller performed his sleight of hand. It was a perfect metaphor for what I wanted to do, giving me “permission” to reveal some of the secrets of Keynote presenting where effects are hidden from the audience, who don’t even know they’re being misdirected and persuaded at the same time.
Below, please watch the video in its entirety, then I’ll show you what I did with Keynote to demonstrate the magic of the “Arrange” menu. See if you can remember the seven elements of sleight of hand when the video finishes:
Did you remember the seven elements?
Here they are if you didn’t remember:
Here they are displayed on a Keynote slide using a font which conveys the art of performing (Academy Engraved LET)
I wanted to assert that very few of those attending would be able to remember all seven, even a few minutes after seeing them mentioned several times during the video. Seven is the upper limit for working memory (four elements or chunks more the norm), where we try and hold onto concepts or memory elements before they are encoded for later retrieval. They can easily be pushed out of memory when new concepts come along, unless we can find a “hook” to keep them in. Indeed, even with the offer a free Presentation Zen Design book as incentive, no one took up the opportunity to try and publicly recall all seven.
Simply relisting them, as I do above on a slide (naturally I left out bullet points or numbers as they would only distract not add to their recall), wouldn’t help much.
The task was to make this part memorable, entertaining, and a teachable moment with respect to Keynote’s abilities. So I decide to create some slides which listed each element, and show how Keynote could emulate each one using the “Arrange” menu elements. I’ve put the slides together using Keynote’s Quicktime export menu so you can watch them in YouTube. Note that I begin the video with a quotation you will be hearing a lot in the next month, given how Apple has described the imminent release of its iPad:
The author of the well known phrase is Arthur C. Clarke, shown in the video in his home in Sri Lanka sitting before his iMac. (I showed this slide to the Keynote group in Pittsburgh last year, with its smoky background theme from Jumsoft. The Keynote team aren’t happy with such animated backgrounds, despite their increasing frequency of use. They break quite easily and don’t allow for smooth transitions. Indeed, during my Powertools workshop, this slide froze my Macbook Pro for a minute, which perfectly illustrated my Keynote team story!)
Here’s my series of slides from YouTube (stop and replay the video as necessary to determine for yourself what I did):
After I showed each slide, I dragged the Keynote window to the main projector screen, and showed how I used the “bring forward, send back” menu items to create a series of layers so that the words could move between layers to emulate the effect it was describing. Not all could be illustrated this way, sometimes it being better merely to illustrate the concept using familiar, funny or exceptional items to enhance encoding and recall. There is empirical evidence that matching pictures with words enhances recall, so I asked the group to remember the seven elements by thinking of the pictures I used to illustrate the concepts.
So the question you might have is how did I perform some of these effects?
Here’s a clue:
Further hint: I use Global Delight’s Voila software to take, manipulate and export screenshots.
I’ll put more of my Powertool’s workshop slides up on the blog in the days to come.
Forget an Apple tablet’s form factor – yeah, it’ll be stunning – it’s the apps that will be its ultimate success. Especially the ones that let you self-publish: 70% for you, 30% for Apple
Three years ago, speculation was rife that Apple would release a mobile phone at Macworld 2007. Apple kept shtum, admitting nothing publicly but as history now show, a chosen few got their hands on the iPhone ahead of its release under NDAs.
I wrote about it then on my now-orphaned Cyberpsych blog, not ready to accept it was actually coming, but predicting if it did arrive, it would contain all the hallmarks of Apple product design we’ve become familiar with over the years, especially since Jobs returned in 1997.
During December especially, with Macworld 2007 being the first week of the new year, the rumours and “confirmations” mounted daily, and now in 2010, in feels like deja vu all over again.
Another landmark product, which as Jobs showed with the iPhone gives Apple a further opportunity to introduce the next interface (r)evolution to the masses, is my prediction, despite commentaries asking why we need another tablet (Joe Wilcox, don’t hold Apple to Microsoft’s product standards and marketing).
If you’ve been watching Apple for the last decade or so, or at least kept up your observation at a distance of how Jobs operates, you’ll know his design mantra centres on bringing complex engineering feats within the reach of ordinary users who don’r need degrees in rocket science to manage. This kind of exactness of execution and attention to detail can’t be achieved at the cut throat prices Apple’s apparent competitors sell their wares for. I say apparent because Apple and say Dell or HP sell computers with much the same internals. Where they differ is:
4. Operating System software
5. Point of sale experience, Price and After purchase experience.
For some people, price is all that counts, which is how Microsoft’s most recent advertising using “real” buyers pitched its cause, even acknowledging the coolness of Apple’s products. The coolness factor is meaningless for many, perhaps even a turn off, and as long as the specs. appear much the same, the experience ought to be as well, no?
Er, no. It’s like saying because two presenters use slideware their presentations will be equally satisfying or effective. As if.
So when it comes to an Apple tablet don’t expect just another interface that we’ve already experienced. It’s not the Jobs’ way. Whether it brings with it a new tactile feedback device for both keyboard and object manipulation – such as application “windows” , flicking pinballs in various games, underlining or highlighting words on a page, and turning that page or chapter with the flick of a finger or two which feels like a flick – it will likely exceed what we’ve seen in the iPhone. It gave us visual and auditory feedback, rather than haptic as has been mooted for the tablet.
But if history is to repeat itself – yes, early adopters will pay a special Apple tax – it won’t be the design alone that will win hearts and minds, and have competitors scratching their heads dreaming of counterattacks (apart from suing Apple for alleged patent infringement). As we saw with the iPhone, it’ll be the software. Not just the operating system software, perhaps iPhone OS 4.0, but what the software will allow in terms of Apps. I fully expect a chosen few app. developers will demonstrate their special versions of existing iPhone apps. as well as new ones specifically designed for the tablet. And I further expect companies fully immersed in the enterprise setting in a very big way to show both hardware and software developments which could only be constructed for the tablet. I’m thinking here of medical applications, already utilising tablet configurations for data storage, but which will really come of age with the Apple tablet’s OS and feature set.
I have no insider information, but I will not be surprised if Apple released its own homebrew set of apps for the creative set, in particular versions of iLife and iWork which will enable users to create endproducts which will somehow be compatible with desktop versions of iLife/iWork.
Let’s think of Pages for a moment, with its dual functions as word processing and desktop publisher. What if Apple provided you with all the necessary tools to create your own book, upload it to the new version of iTunes which will be released the same day as the tablet, and be a saleable item – yep, Apple takes 30%, you get 70%.
Talk about cutting out the middle man, the publishers of expensive textbooks, magazines, and novels! There may be a new industry of for-hire editors to help shape it up, deals with sites like iStockphoto to enable you to fill your book with royalty-paid illustrations (or perhaps help you find specialist illustrators who can also show their wares on a new iTunes store), and even the opportunity to add music to your publication from the iTunes store. Apple will take of royalties for the music publisher in one easy and attractive arrangement.
With respect to Pages’ older brother, Keynote, I have some time back (May, 2007) written of what might happen if your Keynotes could be uploaded to the iTunes store.
Again, a place to show your wares, but it seems iTunes U has to some extent executed this vision by using Quicktime movies exported from Keynote rather than raw Keynote files to provide the educational material. Given the possibility that the next version of Keynote may well be Snow Leopard-only, it’s hard to see how a tablet could create Keynote files to be imported into the desktop version.
That’s not to say a tablet couldn’t be integrated with the management of regular Keynote files, much like the iPhone can in a rudimentary fashion. But rather than just control the slides forward and back, why not call up each slide at will while they’re laid out in order on the tablet, big enough to identify. Stacks of slides that go together, which can be organised in Keynote now, would take care of huge numbers of slides in a stack. And going beyond that, as I have suggested elsewhere on this blog, why not use the tablet to live annotate your Keynotes, even monitoring Twitter feedback during your presentation which is becoming a popular conference activity. This already occurs with tablet-based Powerpoint for Windows.
So, to all those focussed on the hardware aspects of the tablet, don’t forget how after the excitement of the iPhone form factor, it was the app store that provides for its clear lead over its competitors (who will ever catch up with 100,000+ apps?).
I have no doubt that while we swoon over a tablet’s form factor in late January, it will be its software, interface and ability to disintermediate the current publishing houses that will be its permanent “of course, why didn’t I see it coming” factors. It won’t happen first, because for the tablet to succeed it will provide for the same publication houses to sell their wares. But as the music recording industry discovered when they allowed iTunes for the Mac to come to market, in a few years, self-publishing via the tablet will have them asking if they made a deal with the devil, which is where the details will be.
Oh, and one more thing… just as with the iPod and the iPhone, watch the detractors leap on it, disappointed the tablet doesn’t also make toast. The usual suspects will also emerge without the wit or elan to actually commend Apple on shifting the digital world forward incrementally. Don’t worry, that’s their job… someone’s got to do it.
While I’m still in post-Macworld 2009 contemplation mode (meaning I’m still to get around to blogging about Macworld and my Presentation Magic Powertools workshops – with example movies), here’s a heads-up for Australian locals that I’ll be doing a two-hour workshop in March in Elwood. Featuring an updated series of slides and ideas from previous workshops, I’ll focus very much on new developments in presenting, and look at a “slide makeover” section as well, so the audience can see directly how I apply my ideas to rather ordinary (yet oh-so-popular) styles of presenting complex information.
Contact me by email (les.at.lesposen.com – don’t forget to sub. @ for at) of by phone (0413 040 747) to find out more details.