Category Archives: iWork


Stimulated by the interested shown in the solving of the Final Cut Pro X sneak peek keynote build effect, I’ve raced ahead and included two more Keynote files, this time of my own making. In the first, I feature something … Continue reading

A new build feature discovered in Keynote 12 or just some really smart Keynote authors working at Apple?

Welcome to the first blog post of 2012!

In the lead up to my two presentations at Macworld in a few weeks time, I’m creating some Keynote effects which I hope will tantalise and enchant my intended audience.

Since there will be more people reading this blog than will attend, I thought I’d use you as a guinea pig to beta test some of my ideas. I’m going to put up some Keynote effects over the course of the next few weeks until I depart for San Francisco. The challenge will be if you can work out how I did it – and whether you think they are effects worth demonstrating and teaching at Macworld.

I was thinking about this in December, but my accidental discovery of a video on Vimeo (I’ve been playing with the AppleTV over the hot, slow days of summer here in Australia) has moved the schedule forward.

In fact, the effect I’m going to show you is one I didn’t create, but one created for a “sneak peek” keynote at Supermeet NAB Las Vegas in mid-April before the official  launch of Final Cut Pro X in  June 2011.

Now even if you don’t use FCP X, but you’re an Apple follower, you’ll know the huge ruckus this rewrite created in the professional editing community, with many saying it was iMovie Pro or “iMovie on steroids”, lamenting the lack of compatibility with previous versions, the exclusion of much loved previous features, and so on. I’ve been predicting for a while now that Keynote too will get the FCP X “treatment” when its next upgrade is released, and that prediction is somewhat forged by Apple’s long time between updates suggesting a rewrite. And if Apple can do what it did to its professional users with FCP X, it will certainly have no second thoughts about Keynote, which is in desperate need of a rewrite too, if only to put a “Magic timeline” into being. It too might be called a Magnetic timeline as it is for FCP X, (see live link, below).

I want to feature a video from Vimeo taken at the Las Vegas sneak peek of FCP X, by Emanuel Pamperi. It shows FCP X’s chief architect, Peter Steinauer, going through some of its feature set, to much rousing applause (especially the price of $299!). That applause turned to dismay when the same crowd got its hands on FCP X in June, from previously mentioned reports. There were even “Hitler parodies” made, wondering what Apple was thinking when it made the serious changes it did! (Link:

Emanuel’s video is in two sections of 25 minutes, and you can see section 1 in its entirety here (but don’t go there just yet):

About 9:10 in Steinauer introduces new features known as Content Auto Analysis where FCP X analyses the raw data such as searching for faces or crowds or colour matching. I’ve taken the video and edited it so you see how he brings in each feature, starting with the raw source (an SD card) and its target (an iMac).

Here is the edited feature set below (edited, because it’s not in real time and there’s no sound track):

1. Notice how the sequence begins with three elements: SD Card -> iMac

2. The first feature – what would be a dreary bullet point in another presentation software – comes in, separating the SD card and iMac with move builds. Notice how the arrow duplicates and separates in the one build. Probably there were two arrows layered over each other in step 1, and each arrow moved as part of the build. (Well, that’s how I would have done it.)

3. New features are added from the bottom up in table format, again keeping the focus on the features in an animated fashion, rather than static bullet points.

4. But do you notice something I’ve not been able to duplicate? Each new cell of the table both dissolves in and moves upward as the whole table moves to make room? Please go back and have another look because it’s easy to miss.

5. I’ve tried to reproduce this but Keynote 5 will not let a move and dissolve build together: it’s only after one build completes that the other build can occur, as the screen shot below shows. There is no Automatically with option.

6. So either I’m missing something, or what we saw at Las Vegas was a new Keynote feature, something I’m sure many of us could put to good use as we attempt to rid the world of bullet points!

I asked my esteemed Keynote colleague and theme creator John Driedger to have a go, and he came up with the same semi-solution as I did: we can move, then dissolve but not at the same time. (John will hopefully have some new themes and elements for me to show at Macworld).

So, over to you: Can you reproduce the effect here just using Keynote; do we have evidence of a new Keynote feature; or merely that the keynote author used a third party motion app to create the effect?

If you think you can do it in Keynote, email your Keynote file to me (, I’ll verify it and post it as an update here. No prizes (yet!)

UPDATE (Jjanuary 5) : Problem solved using MagicMove and opacity controls. Well done to Spydre for suggesting this solution!

The never ending pursuit of perfection: the parallel universes of Steve Jobs, management guru Peter Drucker, operatic composer Giuseppe Verdi, ancient Greek sculptor Phidias, and economist Joseph Schumpeter – lessons to be learnt about learning lessons applied to professional development and presentation skills

It’s been an interesting week leading up to the the American Thanksgiving holiday, which of course we acknowledge but don’t celebrate in Australia. This may come as a surprise to my American readers, since we Australians can also participate in the Black Friday sales which follow and mark the official start of the US festive season. It’s collateral good fortune.

In the past week, I’ve been featured in the Fairfax media MacMan column on my work with Apple’s Keynote presentation software (see it here). A small screen shot is below:

(Welcome to new readers who have followed me as a result of reading this article. Hopefully, your investment of time will pay off.)

Also during the week, in an effort to maintain my professional development standing, where I must accumulate 30 hours of approved learning over a prescribed period, I attended a workshop sponsored by my professional society on Sleeping Disorders in Children. Here’s the Certifcate of Attendance below:

My professional development hours are mandatory in several ways. Without performing the necessary hours I would find myself in trouble with both my professional society, as well as my national registration body, and Medicare, Australia’s nationalised medicine scheme, where my patients can receive a rebate of in excess of $120 for each of 10 annual visits.

Each period of assessment which in this cycle lasts from July 2010 to November 2011, asks psychologists to provide at the outset a learning plan: What do you hope to learn about the professional practice of psychology during this period?

Below, is the exact form we are required to fill in at the commencement  of the professional development cycle:

In the case of the Sleeping Disorders workshop I undertook this week, it conforms with my training needs because one of the desires I have is to learn things about which I know very little or have no immediate practical need.

In the case of this workshop, I don’t believe I have ever seen a child for a sleep disorder in 30 years of clinical work. I’m not saying I haven’t seen a child with a sleep disorder – I have. It’s more that the referral has been for some other issue such as anxiety or depression of which sleep may be a component. So I don’t hang out a shingle that this is an area of specialisation but my desire to do the workshop was to challenge myself to attend a workshop for which there is no practical purpose. Strange, huh?

The purpose however reminds me of the times I have attended very expansive psychology conventions where there are more than 30 parallel sessions. While I’ll attend quite a few where I expect to apply any learning directly to my clinical practice, I’ll also attend other convention presentations to hear the “names” in my profession present, even if their field is not something I pay particular attention to –   who knows when I will ever have the same opportunity to hear them.

But I also wander into presentations whose fields I know nothing about, where I have minimal prior knowledge of the subject, and where I’m likely to not know the names of authors or experimenters being referenced, nor their body of work, nor the acronyms or special concepts. I enter de novo. As a teacher to psychologists (and others) of presentation skills, it’s a great opportunity to see leaders in their field, as well as first timers, present their stuff, and think about their presentation style and what I can learn for inclusion in my next workshop.

I must say however, that most times I attend psychology workshops and conventions, my learning is mainly what not to do, rather than come away thinking positively I really ought to include that in my workshop.

But going into those lectures with no prior background nor interest in how I will apply what I’ll witness (thus not needing to contemplate if I am up to date, or if my knowledge is sorely underwhelming i.e, the pressure is off) is truly liberating.

Without sitting in unconscious judgement of my own knowledge gaps, I am at liberty to think outside the box, or so I have discovered. I can make large intellectual leaps, because invariably what I learn ends up having some unpredicted relevance to my own work. I go in without pre-conceived ideas, with my only critical faculty being one of witnessing usually unimpressive presentation skills.

This phenomenon is well known to those who witness quantum leaps in understanding when two seemingly unconnected fields of knowledge come together. Each field’s “blindspots” are laid bare, their dogma of “it can’t be done” challenged by the other group’s unawareness of what has been tried and found to have – up to now – failed. The self-imposed limitations of one field are the challenges to another.

I was reminded of this with the reading of Steve Jobs’ authorised biography. The Macintosh group’s naming of Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field (RDF) (below) was not so much based on his salesmanship and marketing of Apple products, but his ability to convince his workers that what they thought was not possible, was possible.

Shown above is the original Mac team from Walter Isaacson’s book, and the history of the RDF is described, thus:

“Steve has a reality distortion field” (Bud Tribble)… “In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything.”

There are several dozen references to the RDF in the biography, not just within Chapter 11. Of significance is its mention at the launch of Jobs’ NeXT computer in the time he was away from Apple.

Demonstrating why the NeXT “(had) made the first real digital books”, Jobs said: “There has not been an advancement in the state of the printed book technology since Gutenberg”. (Even though the NeXT failed commercially, Jobs desire to revolutionise the printed book and turn another industry on its head lives on in the shape of the iPad.)

While demonstrating the NeXT, Isaacson writes of Jobs:

“… he used the quotations book to make a more subtle point,  about his reality distortion field. The quote he chose was from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (orig. ital.). After Alice laments that no matter how hard she tries she can’t believe impossible things, the White Queen retorts, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Especially from the front rows (of the NeXT demonstration audience), there were roars of knowing laughter.”

The idea of professions learning from each other, and respecting how each can make a contribution, is well known in health care, where patients may well be seen by several different health practitioners who care about the global health of the patient, rather than their own specialisation.

To work together, the professions must learn about each other, and this has become known as InterProfessional Education (IPE).

Take a look at this definition from Western University:

PE is generally accepted to mean

“Occasions when (students) from two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care”.

– Freeth et al. Effective Interprofessional Education:
Development, Delivery & Evaluation
. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2005.

The World Health Organization recently described IPE and collaborative practice is to mean. “Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Interprofessional education is a necessary step in preparing a ‘collaborative practice-ready’ health workforce that is better prepared to respond to local health needs. Source: World Health Organization (2010): Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice”.

This is, by the way, why I was unhappy when my professional society wished to set up a mentor scheme for young psychologists and only wanted psychologists as mentors. I advised it would be too easy to confuse it with professional supervision, and mentoring would be best handled by experienced professionals outside of the practice of psychology. (That fell on deaf ears).

Let me now bring in the notion of Continuing Professional Education. My national registration body insists that:

“As a general guide, CPD (continuing professional development) activities should be relevant to the psychologist’s area of professional practice and have clear learning aims and objectives that meet the individual’s requirements”.

This of course leaves it wide open to argue what is defined as “relevant”, and indeed to even define what is a professional practice.

If for instance, I advertise my presentation skills training as almost unique in that few psychologists offer this training, and that my knowledge as a practising psychologist (spending 30 years persuading people to change) makes my workshops special, would my attending say Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen workshops which focusses less on my area of psychology and more on design theory be considered irrelevant?

But there is more to interprofessional collaboration and the gains to be made that just patient care. Surgeons and commercial pilots are getting together on a frequent and formal basis to learn about risk management mitigation strategies and preparedness, as I learnt from one fear of flying physician patient and his father who was a leading surgeon. He had brought his College of Surgeons and Qantas Safety culture experts together to learn from each other.

Going still further, yet returning to the point of one profession’s self-limitating beliefs and behaviours being challenged by collaborating with another profession, let me draw your attention to the book, below:

Hargadon’s book can be accessed in part from Googlebooks here but here’s an early main point:

This of course is why so many have compared Steve Jobs to Edison for their shared abilities to recognise the nature of innovation, bring disparate people together, and then in Jobs’ case in particular, get them to see beyond their own self-imposed limitations, not just their own profession’s with which they identify, and for which there can be various stigma applied if one steps out of prescribed, but often not coded, limits. I’ve been there, and done that with regard to my own profession, especially the application of technologies in psychological endeavours.

Also during the week, based on the article appearing in the media featuring my ideas on presenting and Keynote, I was contacted by a young psychologist (let’s call her by a nom de plume: Nicky) involved in a committee putting on a two day conference at which she was due to present on her Ph.D. Nicky asked if I would provide some coaching in constructing her message.

Not surprisingly, when I loaded her Powerpoint onto my Macbook Pro and projected it up on the wall, it contain the usual presentation errors I ask psychologists and other scientists to give consideration to: loads of text, small pixelated images of dubious relevance, lack of clarity as to the central message, overuse of concepts which needed further clarification before making the central point, disengaging use of article citations and their page numbers, and so on.

(At my Presentation Magic workshop at Macworld 2012, I’ll show for those in academia how to do this properly. My client, like so many I see, know that many presentations leave something to be desired, but have little idea what to do about it. The sooner those who train professionals understand that presentation skills is a teachable subject in demand for professional development, the sooner it will be included in syllabi, and the sooner presentations will improve. Based on the feedback I received a this year’s American Psychological Association convention in Washington, I completed the onerous task of applying to do a Presentation Magic workshop for continuing education for the APA Orlando convention, in August 2012.)

When I showed Nicky how I illustrate references, quotations, book titles and other devices using Keynote’s bag of tricks, she was wowed (as I expected). She “got it” immediately as most do when shown “before and after” slide modifications and we even worked through some simple transformations she could make before her presentation this week. All from an evidence-base.

Here’s her thank you email, with her ID obscured:

The good thing is both Nicky and I earn CPD points for this endeavour. (Update: I heard from Nicky her presentation went well and she is eager to return and play on her own with Keynote)

But today, through an obscure RSS feed, I came across a reference to the work of management guru, Peter Drucker. Published in INC., in 1997, his article entitled, My life as a Knowledge Worker, describes “seven personal experiences that taught (Drucker) how to grow, to change, and to age–without becoming a prisoner of the past”. The article itself is an adaptation from a 1996 book:  Drucker on Asia: The Drucker-Nakauchi Dialogue , by Peter F. Drucker and Isao Nakauchi,

I’m at an age and experience in my own profession where such articles draw me to them like a moth to a flame. And as you will see, there are parallels between Drucker as a management innovator, and that of Steve Jobs – uncannily so.

The First Parallel to Steve Jobs

Here is Drucker writing about his first experience:

Taught by Verdi

The work at the export firm was terribly boring, and I learned very little. Work began at 7:30 in the morning and was over at 4 in the afternoon on weekdays and at noon on Saturdays. So I had lots of free time. Once a week I went to the opera.

On one of those evenings I went to hear an opera by the great 19th-century Italian composer, Giuseppe Verdi–the last opera he wrote, Falstaff. It has now become one of Verdi’s most popular operas, but it was rarely performed then. Both singers and audiences thought it too difficult. I was totally overwhelmed by it. Although I had heard a great many operas, I had never heard anything like that. I have never forgotten the impression that evening made on me.

When I made a study, I found that this opera, with its gaiety, its zest for life, and its incredible vitality, was written by a man of 80! To me 80 was an incredible age. Then I read what Verdi himself had written when he was asked why, at that age, when he was already a famous man and considered one of the foremost opera composers of his century, he had taken on the hard work of writing one more opera, and an exceedingly demanding one. “All my life as a musician,” he wrote, “I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely had an obligation to make one more try.”

I have never forgotten those words–they made an indelible impression on me. When he was 18 Verdi was already a seasoned musician. I had no idea what I would become, except that I knew by that time that I was unlikely to be a success exporting cotton textiles. But I resolved that whatever my life’s work would be, Verdi’s words would be my lodestar. I resolved that if I ever reached an advanced age, I would not give up but would keep on. In the meantime I would strive for perfection, even though, as I well knew, it would surely always elude me. (Italics added).

The Second Parallel to Steve Jobs

In his second experience, Drucker elaborates on this quixotic quest for perfection, and goes back in history much past Verdi. If you haven’t read Isaacson’s book yet, many of those who criticise him for a lost opportunity to really help us understand Jobs, point to Isaacson’s not immersing himself in technology history to place Jobs’ development into an appropriate perspective. We read of some clues however (click to enlarge):

The pride in workmanship is perhaps what has differentiated Apple from its competitors in the world of technology. It causes many who don’t understand why some prefer to pay that little extra to be label them as “sheeple” or Apple “Fanbois” or more affectionately within the Apple community as “MacMacs”.

But to drive the point home in the world of presentations, many who attend my workshops “complain” of my work ethic, with respect to labouring for hours over a slide which might only be on the screen for a few moments. Academics in particular claim they do not have the time to invest in their slides, hence their proclivity to “cut and paste” text from Word documents into Powerpoint slides, denude it of verbs and appropriate grammar, and shove a bullet point in front of the text.

I labour over my slides because I make the time to do so; I want the audience to understand I value their attendance and a high quality engaging slideshow is their reward; constructing difficult slides requires me to both understand the message I want to deliver as well as dig down deep into the software I choose to use to really understand its strengths and weaknesses. The latter get reported, with examples of what I want to happen, to Apple’s iWork team.

Finally, a slide or series of slides that work well can be repurposed for another presentation with a simple substituting of words and graphics, keeping the builds and transitions intact.

So what does the back of a cabinet made by Steve Jobs’ father have to do with Peter Drucker?

In his second learning experience to become a knowledge worker, Drucker writes:

Taught by Phidias

It was at about this same time, and also in Hamburg during my stay as a trainee, that I read a story that conveyed to me what perfection means. It is a story of the greatest sculptor of ancient Greece, Phidias. He was commissioned around 440 b.c. to make the statues that to this day stand on the roof of the Parthenon, in Athens. They are considered among the greatest sculptures of the Western tradition, but when Phidias submitted his bill, the city accountant of Athens refused to pay it. “These statues,” the accountant said, “stand on the roof of the temple, and on the highest hill in Athens. Nobody can see anything but their fronts. Yet you have charged us for sculpting them in the round–that is, for doing their back sides, which nobody can see.”

“You are wrong,” Phidias retorted. “The gods can see them.” I read this, as I remember, shortly after I had listened to Falstaff, and it hit me hard. I have not always lived up to it. I have done many things that I hope the gods will not notice, but I have always known that one has to strive for perfection even if only the gods notice.

Need I say more?

The Third Parallel to Steve Jobs
Jobs was relentless in his pursuit of change, not for the sake of it, but to discard even successful products and services when new technologies and materials became available. Others might have “stuck to a good thing” and milked a cash cow for all it was worth without engaging in much innovation, especially if the product had a near-monopoly hold in the marketplace. This was not Jobs’ way, and many were astonished when years ago he dumped Apple’s most successful iPod at the time, the iPod-mini,  for the iPod Nano. The iPod-mini had itself been panned by critics at each launch.
When all around Apple were griping about Global Financial crises, Jobs said Apple would innovate its way out of the financial mess the world found itself in. In 2001, introducing the iTunes Music store, he famously said:
“We decided to innovate our way through this downturn, so that we would be further ahead of our competitors when things turn up.”
Drucker too had been through a financial crisis having worked in Europe for a financial  brokerage firm at the time of the Great Wall Street Crash of October, 1929. Aged 20 at the time, he left finance to continue studies in law while learning to become a journalist. The latter taught him one of several lessons he continued to employ throughout his life. It supports my notion of delving into fields you know nothing about which can teach you more than alleged “relevant” continuing professional education:

Taught by Journalism

A few years later I moved to Frankfurt. I worked first as a trainee in a brokerage firm. Then, after the New York stock-market crash, in October 1929, when the brokerage firm went bankrupt, I was hired on my 20th birthday by Frankfurt’s largest newspaper as a financial and foreign-affairs writer. I continued to be enrolled as a law student at the university because in those days one could easily transfer from one European university to any other. I still was not interested in the law, but I remembered the lessons of Verdi and of Phidias. A journalist has to write about many subjects, so I decided I had to know something about many subjects to be at least a competent journalist.

The newspaper I worked for came out in the afternoon. We began work at 6 in the morning and finished by a quarter past 2 in the afternoon, when the last edition went to press. So I began to force myself to study afternoons and evenings: international relations and international law; the history of social and legal institutions; finance; and so on. Gradually, I developed a system. I still adhere to it. Every three or four years I pick a new subject. It may be Japanese art; it may be economics. Three years of study are by no means enough to master a subject, but they are enough to understand it. So for more than 60 years I have kept on studying one subject at a time. That not only has given me a substantial fund of knowledge. It has also forced me to be open to new disciplines and new approaches and new methods–for every one of the subjects I have studied makes different assumptions and employs a different methodology.

Again, the parallels to how Jobs conducted his life are clear. In terms of relevance to me as a professional, I have always asserted that Professional associations and societies and Registration Boards who assert CPD is good for protecting the public from out of date practitioners have badly sold CPD: it’s as much about the welfare of the practitioner as it is about the welfare of the profession and the public it serves. Unfortunately, too often I see sticks and not carrots in this domain. As agents of change, we psychologists have much to learn in this domain.

The Fourth Parallel to Steve Jobs

By now, if you are at all interested in presentations, Steve Jobs and Apple, you will be aware of what a terribly difficult person he could be, especially when leading his teams to produce the products he believed the public wanted to buy, although they didn’t know it yet. He wanted others to participate in his singular pursuit of perfection.  I must say, I have had the occasional person witness my presentations and ask me, “Why do you bother? Why spend time chasing down the one picture to illustrate your idea, and why not make do with a standard presentation style, like we all do?”
Here is Drucker writing of turning his journalism career into lifetime lessons, with a special emphasis on mentoring, training and learning from others with an eye to perfection:

Taught by an Editor-in-Chief

The next experience to report in this story of keeping myself intellectually alive and growing is something that was taught by an editor-in-chief, one of Europe‘s leading newspapermen. The editorial staff at the newspaper consisted of very young people. At age 22 I became one of the three assistant managing editors. The reason was not that I was particularly good. In fact, I never became a first-rate daily journalist. But in those years, around 1930, the people who should have held the kind of position I had–people age 35 or so–were not available in Europe. They had been killed in World War I. Even highly responsible positions had to be filled by young people like me.

The editor-in-chief, then around 50, took infinite pains to train and discipline his young crew. He discussed with each of us every week the work we had done. Twice a year, right after New Year’s and then again before summer vacations began in June, we would spend a Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday discussing our work over the preceding six months. The editor would always start out with the things we had done well. Then he would proceed to the things we had tried to do well. Next he reviewed the things where we had not tried hard enough. And finally, he would subject us to a scathing critique of the things we had done badly or had failed to do. The last two hours of that session would then serve as a projection of our work for the next six months: What were the things on which we should concentrate? What were the things we should improve? What were the things each of us needed to learn? And a week later each of us was expected to submit to the editor-in-chief our new program of work and learning for the next six months. I tremendously enjoyed the sessions, but I forgot them as soon as I left the paper.

Almost 10 years later, after I had come to the United States, I remembered them. It was in the early 1940s, after I had become a senior professor, started my own consulting practice, and begun to publish major books. Since then I have set aside two weeks every summer in which to review my work during the preceding year, beginning with the things I did well but could or should have done better, down to the things I did poorly and the things I should have done but did not do. I decide what my priorities should be in my consulting work, in my writing, and in my teaching. I have never once truly lived up to the plan I make each August, but it has forced me to live up to Verdi’s injunction to strive for perfection, even though “it has always eluded me” and still does.

Most Fridays, I prefer not to see patients, instead writing reports, blogging, reading, and reflecting with colleagues on how the week went: What did I learn from my patients this week; what of the presentation I gave last weekend – could it be improved knowing what worked and what didn’t and the audience reactions to both. It doesn’t give me a long weekend, as I’m often flying with patients on Saturday or Sunday to help them overcome their fear of flying. But this time for reflection and solitude is very important.
The first time I saw Steve Jobs on the Apple Cupertino campus I was being hosted at lunch by one of the iWork senior staff, and there was Steve, about 100 metres away, walking alone around the campus, deep in thought. He was very thin at the time, somewhat stooped, but you could almost hear the cogs of his mind ticking over like an exquisite Swiss timepiece.
I’ve thought that with my current crop of supervisees we should sit down in our next session and work though their new professional learning plan, as mandated by the national registration board, get the signed paperwork out of the way, and work assiduously to NOT do it, but exceeding it in some unpredictable yet justifiable way. As Drucker noted, after six decades, he never succeeded with his plans, such was his striving for perfection, and the limitations such planning can embrace.
The Fifth Parallel to Steve Jobs
One of the important things that I do for my own learning, both as a psychologist and a presenter, is watch how experts work. It could be going to lectures and workshops by people at the top of their profession, but whose body of work I have only passing interest in. Sooner or later, an expert will teach you something. But as Alan Funt would say, it may happen when you least expect it.
Or it could be watching advertisements or those current affairs shows which each have limited time to get across their messages, usually aiming at the lowest common denominator. They need to pull out all the technology and story telling stops to do so, and I watch very closely how they do this, and wonder if I can emulate them in Keynote. Other times, I watch high brow documentaries for the same reason, and more and more we are seeing amazing CGI to get across very complex ideas. Please locate Brian Green’s NOVA documentary series, Fabric of the Universe,  to see what I am talking about, here.
Apart from having a deep foundational knowledge of their subject, experts have the ability to impart that knowledge to others who only possess superficial knowledge. They also possess a methodology for confronting data points which do not conform to their deep structural knowledge of  their subject. They are not frightened of their theories being challenged but instead, embrace the challenge in an effort to advance the science, and thus the profession. While they have a healthy appreciation of how their expertise developed, they do not look to history to provide the way forward; instead, they are quick to see it as irrelevant if the current facts negate that history. True expertise I believe is not adhering to old ways of doing things if the current evidence shows those ways to be false.
In my own profession, too often have I seen patients who have consulted colleagues who spent considerable time going through childhood history seeking the aetiology of the presenting concern. It’s a luxury we in Australia no longer have as this month rebated sessions under our socialised Better Access to Psychologists scheme have been cut from an annual maximum of 18, to a maximum of 10. The evidence base which saw psychologists’ services enter the Medicare system in the first place in 2006 is one that shows mild to moderate (and sometime severe) impairments, such as anxiety and depression, require between 16 and 20 sessions from a competent psychologist for significant and lasting change to occur.
I have always worked briefly, but ten sessions is getting very close to pushing me to my limits, even though I aim to achieve significant results in 6 to 8 sessions, leaving several sessions up our sleeves for follow up, and unexpected setbacks.
I don’t bring a great deal of focus to childhood origins and behaviour, but prefer to hear the patient’s theories of why their situation has presented itself, what they believe is needed to change that, how they know when change has been effected, and most importantly what factors are maintaining the current misery-causing situations, since they will become our targets for change. Occasionally, patients go back to parents or other figures of their childhood and get their side of the story. This sometimes sees a revision of their own story, but rarely does this cause an epiphany leading to behavioural change. That still requires work.
How change takes place is really what I do, both with my patients and those who attend Presentation Magic training, for whom the task is convincing them to move away from the tradition and style of disengaging Powerpoint to something more effective and rewarding.
Steve Jobs was one to rarely look back, and his biography and commentary about him focusses on his lack of nostalgia (except for his family) and his relentless pursuit of the new, because it would provide a better answer to problems than the old.
Drucker too talks about the old and the new:

Taught by a Senior Partner

My next learning experience came a few years after my experience on the newspaper. From Frankfurt I moved to London in 1933, first working as a securities analyst in a large insurance company and then, a year later, moving to a small but fast-growing private bank as an economist and the executive secretary to the three senior partners. One, the founder, was a man in his seventies; the two others were in their midthirties. At first I worked exclusively with the two younger men, but after I had been with the firm some three months or so, the founder called me into his office and said, “I didn’t think much of you when you came here and still don’t think much of you, but you are even more stupid than I thought you would be, and much more stupid than you have any right to be.” Since the two younger partners had been praising me to the skies each day, I was dumbfounded.

And then the old gentlemen said, “I understand you did very good securities analysis at the insurance company. But if we had wanted you to do securities-analysis work, we would have left you where you were. You are now the executive secretary to the partners, yet you continue to do securities analysis. What should you be doing now, to be effective in your new job?” I was furious, but still I realized that the old man was right. I totally changed my behavior and my work. Since then, when I have a new assignment, I ask myself the question, “What do I need to do, now that I have a new assignment, to be effective?” Every time, it is something different. Discovering what it is requires concentration on the things that are crucial to the new challenge, the new job, the new task.

The Sixth Parallel to Steve Jobs

One of the things Jobs became legendary for was his focus. In particular, how to take a product or service and remove all that was unnecessary to the task, such as flashing lights and shiny decals, and make sure form matched function. If you into an Apple store you will experience this focus, bot just by playing with the products but in the actual customer service itself.

Jobs played to his strengths, focussing when he returned to Apple in 1997 (the year Drucker wrote his article) on simplifying the product line, which had grown to monstrous and unprofitable proportions under previous Apple CEOs.

Jobs wanted Apple’s return to its roots, to design and make the sort of products he had conceived of at Apple’s birth: ones that could cause massive change in how people worked.

While others around him had wanted Apple to compete with the “Wintel” (Windows on Intel powered PCs)  juggernaut by cloning the Apple operating software to other PC makers, Jobs killed those programs at great expense to focus on what he believed Apple did best.

Rather than a chase to the bottom of the barrel where profits were wafer thin and based on selling masses of “what everybody else is doing” products, Jobs went for the higher ground, knowing – as it was for his favourite auto maker, Mercedes Benz – that there will always be a market for high quality luxury goods where handsome profits can also be made. In time, the quality of the higher end, expensive products would filter down into less expensive, more easily afforded goods, such as the iPod Shuffle, an inexpensive iPod to groom young people into buying Apple products. To fill their Shuffles, they needed iTunes and its downloadable music. And when they could afford it, Macintosh desktop and laptop computers.

When it comes to presentations, I too play to my strengths, daring myself to take risks, to challenge my audience, and not give in to the lowest common denominator, even if it cancelling a presentation to a conference audience whose organisers demand I convert my Keynotes to Powerpoint for their convenience, not for the edification of the paying attendees.

Thus, Drucker too talks about playing to one’s strengths, and the role of continuous learning:

Taught by the Jesuits and the Calvinists

Quite a few years later, around 1945, after I had moved from England to the United States in 1937, I picked for my three-year study subject early modern European history, especially the 15th and 16th centuries. I found that two European institutions had become dominant forces in Europe: the Jesuit Order in the Catholic South and the Calvinist Church in the Protestant North. Both were founded independently in 1536. Both adopted the same learning discipline.

Whenever a Jesuit priest or a Calvinist pastor does anything of significance–making a key decision, for instance–he is expected to write down what results he anticipates. Nine months later he traces back from the actual results to those anticipations. That very soon shows him what he did well and what his strengths are. It also shows him what he has to learn and what habits he has to change. Finally, it shows him what he has no gift for and cannot do well. I have followed that method for myself now for 50 years. It brings out what one’s strengths are–and that is the most important thing an individual can know about himself or herself. It brings out areas where improvement is needed and suggests what kind of improvement is needed. Finally, it brings out things an individual cannot do and therefore should not even try to do. To know one’s strengths, to know how to improve them, and to know what one cannot do–they are the keys to continuous learning.

The Seventh Parallel to Steve Jobs

The final parallel is perhaps the most haunting and significant one. Here, in the final installment of his seven learning experiences, Drucker writes of he and his father visiting the great economist, Joseph Schumpeter, who had been a co-worker of his father’s in Europe when both were very young. When he writes of comparing his father to Schumpeter, (below) I am reminded in his description of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and their contrasting personalities.

In this learning lesson, Drucker uses his visit to Schumpeter to review lessons learnt of a lifetime, of what’s important, and of giving consideration to one’s legacy to one’s fellow human beings. This would appear to have been an increasingly important concept  for Jobs too, as he oversaw the return of Apple to past glories, and indeed way beyond most people’s expectations. Having achieved incredible fame and fortune, he turned his attention to his legacy, both to Apple and mankind.

This phrasing might irk many people, but it certainly helps explain the unconstrained outpouring of grief and sorrow at Jobs’ passing only seven weeks ago, with so much ahead of him to yet achieve.

But once he knew he had to get his affairs in order, as he had been told early in his diagnosis of cancer, he went about it methodically and with an eye to his legacy. No doubt, he first thought of his family and how to care for them in his absence, and to some extent Isaacson’s book is meant to be a source of care for his children, to help explain his absences from important developments in their lives.

But he also turned his attention to the bigger picture of Apple itself, and how to leave the company he’d co-founded when he was 21, in good hands and with a culture  and ability to strategise that would long outlive him. Not so much in his image (he didn’t want a “What would Walt do” paralysis which afflicted Disney after his passing), but in his pursuit of perfection, continuous learning, and making products and services which make a difference in people’s lives. It’s no surprise then that he set up a Knowledge Management program – Apple University – to impart his life’s learnings, through the leadership of Yale’s Joel Podolny.

No doubt Podolny, like most in American business schools, was a student of Drucker’s even if he never sat in a class of his. Drucker was a force to be reckoned with, changing the face of American and world business practices over the course of his lifetime. Here is his seventh and most parallel of learning experiences:

Taught by Schumpeter

One more experience, and then I am through with the story of my personal development. At Christmas 1949, when I had just begun to teach management at New York University, my father, then 73 years old, came to visit us from California. Right after New Year’s, on January 3, 1950, he and I went to visit an old friend of his, the famous economist Joseph Schumpeter. My father had already retired, but Schumpeter, then 66 and world famous, was still teaching at Harvard and was very active as the president of the American Economic Association.

In 1902 my father was a very young civil servant in the Austrian Ministry of Finance, but he also did some teaching in economics at the university. Thus he had come to know Schumpeter, who was then, at age 19, the most brilliant of the young students. Two more-different people are hard to imagine: Schumpeter was flamboyant, arrogant, abrasive, and vain; my father was quiet, the soul of courtesy, and modest to the point of being self-effacing. Still, the two became fast friends and remained fast friends.

By 1949 Schumpeter had become a very different person. In his last year of teaching at Harvard, he was at the peak of his fame. The two old men had a wonderful time together, reminiscing about the old days. Suddenly, my father asked with a chuckle, “Joseph, do you still talk about what you want to be remembered for?” Schumpeter broke out in loud laughter. For Schumpeter was notorious for having said, when he was 30 or so and had published the first two of his great economics books, that what he really wanted to be remembered for was having been “Europe’s greatest lover of beautiful women and Europe’s greatest horseman–and perhaps also the world’s greatest economist.” Schumpeter said, “Yes, this question is still important to me, but I now answer it differently. I want to be remembered as having been the teacher who converted half a dozen brilliant students into first-rate economists.”

He must have seen an amazed look on my father’s face, because he continued, “You know, Adolph, I have now reached the age where I know that being remembered for books and theories is not enough. One does not make a difference unless it is a difference in the lives of people.” One reason my father had gone to see Schumpeter was that it was known that the economist was very sick and would not live long. Schumpeter died five days after we visited him.

I have never forgotten that conversation. I learned from it three things: First, one has to ask oneself what one wants to be remembered for. Second, that should change. It should change both with one’s own maturity and with changes in the world. Finally, one thing worth being remembered for is the difference one makes in the lives of people.

I am telling this long story for a simple reason. All the people I know who have managed to remain effective during a long life have learned pretty much the same things I learned. That applies to effective business executives and to scholars, to top-ranking military people and to first-rate physicians, to teachers and to artists. Whenever I work with a person, I try to find out to what the individual attributes his or her success. I am invariably told stories that are remarkably like mine.

Your observations and comments about your own learning experiences, for the education of others, is welcomed, below.

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:

Global search of Powerpoint references in "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

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.

Vale Steve.

Vale Keynote?

Using Apple’s Keynote in a Powerpoint-centred convention (Aviation), I also show how I use a third party software, ScreenFlow 3 to make up for some of Keynote’s deficits. Watch how I create a Director’s Cut, showing Presentation Magic principles in action

In my previous blog post, I wrote of presenting to an Aviation-based convention, APEX, held in Seattle the second week of September, 2011. This was an important time for aviation and travel, given it coincided with 10th anniverary of the events of 9/11, and their aftermath, which continue to impact on travel.

This is especially so in the USA, where commercial aviation remains vigilant about repeat events, while trying to make travelling by airliner as comfortable and pleasant as possible, in the current circumstances. It’s not an easy ask, but technology appears to be coming to the rescue, up to a point, by its introduction to the cabin environment of everyday technologies, such as wifi, iPads and other sources of entertainment to while away the hours. It’s as if a return to the fun days of commercial aviation is possible, before the introduction of budget airlines and tight security.

I had such issues in mind when I constructed my presentation on fear of flying for aviation personnel for the APEX conference , which I delivered at the convention, September 12.

As my previous blog entry describes, I was the first of three to speak in the late afternoon session, which allowed me to set up my equipment during the coffee break.

This included setting my iPhone 4 on a nearby table so as to video record my presentation for later editing.

That’s now complete, and the result is on my page on YouTube.

Now I get many notes in the evaluations of my Presentation Magic workshops, or indeed any presentation I do using my presentation magic “style”asking how and why I did what I did.

So, I decided I would do a Director’s Cut version of my APEX presentation here on this blog. Those in the aviation industry who watch the video will likely not be interested in the same things as presenters wishing to learn more of my presentation concepts, so it’s here in this blog where I’ll ask you to follow along.

You can do this in one of two ways:

1. Just watch the video through from beginning to end (it’s roughly 38 mins) and let it wash over you as if you are a member of the intended audience.

2. Or, you can open it in a separate window and keep this page open as I take you through each element on a timed basis, using the time elapsed in the YouTube video as the key.

3. Or you could do 1, then 2, and see the video twice. Hence, the reason for calling it the Director’s Cut, as is done with DVDs with its extra tracks.

How was the video constructed

One of the missing elements in the current edition of Keynote 09 is a timeline, an easy way to edit resultant videos so as to play as a standalone video or on a service like YouTube. When it exports it as a video, Keynote either allows the viewer to manually advance each element of the video, or it allows for a fixed timing for each build and slide. This has its uses but not with the video I wish to show you.

For this, I had to step away from Keynote and use an editing software. I could have used iMovie or Final Cut, but instead I chose software which I find more intuitive and that’s ScreenFlow 3 from Telestream, the same people who provide Flip4Mac to allow viewing of .wmv movies on Macs seamlessly.

Intended initially to help software developers make videos of to show users how to best employ their apps by showing the workflow on the screen, I find it has applications to help make up for Keynote’s shortcomings.

The Workflow

To record my presentation, I simply placed the iPhone on its edge, having made sure the camera captured the physical area in which I would be presenting. I switched it on as the session started, then moved into frame for the introductions.

At the conclusion of my presentation, I synched the iPhone with my Macbook Pro, at which time the 3GB or so video was imported into iPhoto.

From there it could be dragged into the ScreenFlow 3 timeline, where the audio and video tracks were separated. I needed to do this because my Keynote file also contained movies with sound which needed to be mixed with the live sound so as to capture the audience reaction to what I was showing.

My intention was to cut back and forth between the live presentation featuring me centre stage with the projected images behind me (see below), and the movie of my Keynote file, once it was exported in Quicktime format.


All things considered, the Quicktime output does a good job of preserving the embedded video files and maintains the sharpness of the fonts, pictures and build styles and transitions, as long as you don’t overuse compression protocols. I actually allowed the Quicktime movie to be in DV-PAL format despite the resultant size, which was then imported into ScreenFlow 3. The resultant file was more than 4GB.

I could have extracted the audio and video from this Quicktime file, which woud have left two audio and and two video files. This is not the sort of production I do everyday and I wanted it up on YouTube quickly, so I left the Keynote video intact, with both audio and video. In future efforts, I may change the workflow and separate the tracks, but the issue of keeping all the material synchronised is a serious challenge.

The decision one needs to make in producing this kind of video is when to cut away from the live presentation to the Keynote presentation and when to cut back. It needs to be done smoothly with consideration given to any transition styles, just as one would with Keynote or Powerpoint.

Up to a point, the decision is made for you. At the beginning, you have your opening slide where you’re being introduced, then cut to you making your opening statements with the same opening slide behind you, then cut to the slideshow again once the first slide makes its appearance.

It’s actually not quite as easy as it sounds as I wanted to use some of ScreenFlow’s built in transitions to make the appearance a little easier on the eye, rather than just cut back and forth. This means careful timing so as not to cause a disjuncture or rupture of the sequence, nor loss of information on the Keynote builds I used.

Let’s just say that it required quite a few “undo-redo” commands before I was happy with the outcome. This wasn’t easy, since the more small Quicktime movie files built up (rather than two long videos), the more ScreenFlow began to act flakily, crashing frequently, something I am still working with its helpdesk team to resolve. In essence I had scores of small Quicktime movies from both the Keynote video and the iPhone video littering the timeline, and it’s likely these choked ScreenFlow. Trouble was, rather than falling over early in the export of what I thought was the finished product, it fell over right at the end, often after a half hour of processing, only to have me start again. Very frustrating.

In the end, I firstly exported the Screenflow audio track only, then the video only using Voila’s Screencasting ability. The irony here is I had to use a screenmovie (Voila) of a screenmovie (ScreenFlow 3) to achieve the final product! I then used Quicktime Pro to bring video and audio together in synchrony.

So, let’s go to the YouTube video now, and I’ll walk you through a timeline of what, how and why I did what I did, including errors which I would correct if I gave the presentation again. This way we all learn.

00.00: This is the slide I created by using the brand slide I was asked to use throughout my presentation by APEX management. I used it only once, because it made no sense to use it elsewhere. I saw some other presenters staying with it, but then others merely used their own presentation stacks which they had clearly used for other conferences or sales meetings.

While I’m being introduced by a member of the APEX Education Committee, I’m actually fiddling around with the Macbook Pro on the ground, tweaking a few things. I left this out of the video 😉

00:27 I use one of ScreenFlow’s transitions to open the live video coverage. I had positioned my iPhone so as to capture a fairly wide shot yet with me in the centre, with the screen behind my left shoulder. I actually placed some marks on the floor so as to remember where I ought to stand most of the time, especially when I played videos and needed to be out of shot temporarily.

If you look at the first time I’m shown, you’ll see my Macbook Pro on the ground infront of me (it has an Incipio black cover so as to not draw attention to the Apple logo. If people think I’m using Powerpoint to achieve my effects because it looks like I’m using a Lenovo or Dell laptop, all the better!).

Also, you’ll notice my iPad sitting in landscape mode in an iKlip holder attached to a music stand. This is my vanity monitor setup, with Doceri software allowing me to see what’s on the screen behind me, and to go into presentation mode at the tap of a button on the iPad screen. In my right hand, is my Kensington remote for controlling the Keynote show.

00:46 At this point, having read the bio I had supplied her, the session moderator asks this aviation audience if anyone has a fear of flying. To her and my surprise, quite a few hands go up, and I’m already thinking ahead about my content and if it will need any alterations on the fly given the audience composition.

I thank the host, and launch into one of three different introductions I had rehearsed, depending on the size and composition of the audience, as well as the tone set by the moderator. I rehearsed these out aloud in my hotel room to hear what sounds good, and to make sure the words come out clearly, given the audience might be surprised at my Australian accent. This is especially the case as the audience was a very mixed one culturally, a point I’ll come back to later on when I discuss a potential faux pas I made.

Notice how the brightness of the screen behind me washes out much of the slide due to the iPhone 4’s mediocre camera quality, hopefully improved in the iPhone4s, just released. This is why it was necessary to edit in the actual slides from Keynote.

01:12 An unrehearsed element here, where I acknowledge the number in the audience who have identified as having a fear of flying. It’s possible I might call on them later in the session to discuss some of my ideas in a workshop style, but frankly time is so tight (I have 30 minutes allotted to me) it’s unlikely.

01:17 At this point I launch into my prepared and rehearsed presentation with accompanying slides. Because fear of flying is an almost undiscussable in the aviation community, especially this one which is about the positive passenger experience, I knew I had to make the subject palatable rather than scholarly. An academic presentation would be for a different audience. This audience needed to be convinced it was a worthwhile topic, and that if they understood it, there could be financial gain for them.

So I started off by taking a one-down position, making fun of myself for having chosen potentially the wrong profession to be in, by focussing on two times in history when fear of flying was not at all unusual, and thus not requiring the services of a clinical psychologist.

As you’ll hear, the first was during the barnstorming days in early aviation when it really wasn’t that safe to fly.

01:37 I needed to get this group onside very quickly given their expected defensiveness, and so early on I introduced a visual joke, using aviation terminology to catch the audience off guard: “If you were offered a seat on the wing, they really meant it!”

This generated a little laughter, as if the audience wasn’t sure if they were meant to laugh at such a serious, academic and potentially dry subject, but as they got into the talk, you can hear how they loosened up, hopefully with me giving them permission to have a chuckle. This is part of the engagement process, keeping your audience expecting more fun or surprises ahead.

01:49 Note how the picture of the wingwalker is framed like an old photo album, using one of Keynote’s border features including album corners. You’ll see the picture dissolve into full colour, because it’s actually a very modern photo. I had tried to find an original photo from the barnstorming days, but failing that I located a modern one, and using an effect from software called FX Photostudio Pro (which came with one of the recent Mac software bundles), I used a supplied filter to give it an aged look.

The use of a fullscreen, high-res photo which then dissolves into a full colour image gives the audience an immediate sense that this is not your usual Powerpoint. It keeps me central as the main generator of words and ideas, and informs the audience from the get-go that this will be a highly visual presentation, accompanied by my commentary.

I do this in almost all the presentations I give no matter what the subject. Those opening moments are crucial in setting the mood and expectations for what is to follow in the next 30 minutes.

02:00 At this point, I head into some rehearsed storytelling, attempting to establish the long history of treating fear of flying, starting with the first flight attendants, who were in fact, nurses. This likely comes as a surprise to many in the audience, and I personalise the story by focussing on a groups of flight attendants (FA), and at…

02:07… I single out Ellen Church as the first FA and tell a little of her story. Note please how I do NOT use a laser pointer to locate her on the slide. I dissolve to a second slide – a duplicate of the first – but where the second slide is altered in both sharpness and contrast, leaving a cut out of the subject in high contrast so the eye is drawn there. I also use a shadow effect to outline her with a glow so as to be absolutely sure where your attention goes. I believe it’s important early in a presentation to have these effects to train your audience to expect their attention to be directed by the story you are telling.

How I actually created this effect in Keynote is interesting. I used Keynote’s “Mask with shape” feature to create the cutout of the subject from the first slide which was then pasted into the second slide, and the two slides are then dissolved. To the audience it appears as if the subject has materialised from the slide, which is the intended effect, and they are oblivious to the fact two slides were used. This is not easy to achieve in Powerpoint, because its “dissolve” transitions do not come close to Keynote’s underutilised and underestimated “dissolve”.

02:30 I continue to establish the story of FAs and their initial employment to help nervous flyers, thus establishing that fear of flying is as old as flying itself, and thus there is a body of knowledge about the subject. However, I still need to make the connection to current understandings of fear of flying, and why it is still a relevant subject in 2011, despite the vast improvements in aviation safety and comfort.

03:10 The slide has been on the screen for long enough, so it’s time to give the audience more things to please the eye and ear, yet remain true to the story I’m telling. At this point, I introduce the audience to a new ABC TV show which is due to start in two weeks from my presentation (September 25) called, PAN AM, based on the defunct airline during its halcyon days in the 1960s, when commercial aviation was still glamorous and exotic.

With the video I am hoping to hit the audience with some emotion – nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” – and at the same time, demonstrate Keynote’s seamless segue to video, something those using older versions of Powerpoint struggle with. Note at…

03:13… my choice of transition, the droplet, to convey a change in time, much like you see in movie dream sequences, or when directors wish to convey a memory or scene change an actor is experiencing. What you see and hear is the video of the exported Quicktime of my Keynote file, with no resolution loss at all.

03:37 The edit here is a bit too sudden, when the actress says, “You’re famous now”, and if I were to re-edit the movie, I would soften the transition.

04:04 I am back centre stage to bring my first point home: the notion of there being a time when it was normal to have a fear of flying, because indeed it was a risky time to fly, and not at all irrational, thus not requiring the services of a clinical psychologist.

At this point, I remind the audience I earlier mentioned there being two times when it was normal to be fearful of flying, and now I’m about to introduce the second and more contemporary time, which has direct relevance to the date on which I’m presenting.

04:09 I wanted to talk about the second time being post 9/11, and how companies refused to let their senior staff fly rather than drive to business appointment if they were less than 500 miles away. I needed to find a visual to represent 9/11, and did not want to show the audience of aviation personnel images of crashing planes. For all I know, they may have known victims on board the aircraft involved, and I needed to be respectful of this. The image I used contained elements of patriotism for whom I assumed would be a mainly American audience, as well as showing the WTC towers intact. As it turned out the audience was very mixed in terms of nationalities, and the patriotic image was likely unnecessary.

04:20 I surprise the audience with stories that the fear of flying business suffered after 9/11 because no one thought it strange to not want to fly in the months after.

04:27 I bring in these New Yorker magazine covers (September 24th edition) to break the previous image being on the screen too long. I created these two magazines from a single cover from a gathering of some of the best magazine covers ever which I have stored in iPhoto. I used BoxShot3D to create them, and I used the same software for some of the book images I produce later in the presentation. (I probably bring the New Yorker image in to the YouTube presentation a little too early as it seems to just hang there until I make direct reference to it at 04:45)

04:52 Having said the New Yorker cover captures the feelings of New Yorkers, I attempt to justify this assertion by telling of my time in NYC just a few days before 9/11, then tie it in to another aviation event, the collapse of Australian airline, Ansett, to whom I consulted on fear of flying. You’ll thus note that while some of the story elements seem disconnected at first, I try and pull them together with connecting elements, like my own story and memories.

05:22 After telling a personal and unrehearsed story, I return to the main story which is to show at this point that the unnecessary fears over flying post 9/11 had real consequences, and indeed tap into current fears which see people preferring to drive rather than fly despite the available safety statistics. Many people hear these statistics frequently and ignore them, but I chose a particularly interesting study (2009) which shows how driving fatalities increased significantly in the months after 9/11, ostensibly because people drove when they previously would have flown.

05:31 Notice how I display the actual article itself, located from the web, and brought in as a screenshot. I duplicated it twice more, and sent each duplicate behind the other with a shadow outline to convey it was a multipage article and lift it off the screen a little.

While the body of the article contains almost unreadable text, the article title is very clear and legible.

05:33 I needed to make my point very quickly and directly, so lifted out the main talking point using a screen shot to create a “call out” using a scaling build in Keynote. Notice how I once more fade the actual article so as to direct attention to the main point. This too was done using two duplicate slides, with the build-in set to appear automatically after the transition.

Notice too how the enlarged quote ends on the third line with the word “about”.

In fact, the line continues but I wanted the words that appear there to have greater impact. So I took another screenshot of them, and covered them in the original call out with a white shape, then built in the second call out at…

05:51 …to make my main point, that driving is still a more dangerous proposition than flying, and here’s the evidence. The other thing to note is that the only time I ever read a slide to an audience is if

1. I am reading a direct quote from pictured source,

2. The presentation is being recorded and it’s possible the viewing audience will see the slide on a poor resolution monitor so it helps to read it,

3. The auditorium is very big, and those at the back will be challenged to see even large font words.

06:15 I now return with the audience to a current understanding of fear of flying and why those in the aviation industry need to understand it more. I do it by reviewing a seminal 1982 research paper (displayed) produced for the Boeing Corporation, a major presence at APEX whose executives had presented in the morning educational sessions, along with rival Airbus.

Once more, I don’t just cite it, but show it, something which required some effort to track down, having long ago lost my original signed copy given to me by one of those mentioned in the article, Dr. Al Forgione of Boston, one of the first to run fear of flying group programs in the USA.

06:37 If my memory serves me correctly, it was Al Forgione who suggested the then CEO of Boeing, Bill Allen (not Paul Allen whom I mistakenly named in the video) wanted to know more about the subject for personal reasons, not just commercial ones.

06:53 “The most telling part of the report”. At this point, I have once more duplicated the slide, enlarged and relocated the image, and used Keynote’s Magic Move transition to give a Ken Burns’-like movement to the slide. One could do this with a move and scale build on the o Continue reading

Rethinking Apple’s Keynote presentation software: the need for a timeline feature which shows Apple design and engineering at its finest

It’s nice to know a week after I suggested it in this blog that well-known blog, Cult of Mac, has also written a day or two ago that it too believes we may see a re-write of Keynote much like has occurred for Final Cut Pro X.

The hint it took would appear to be an advertisement for a user interface engineer to join the iWork team. Me, it comes from close observation of Apple as well as having presented to a section of the iWork team with regard to how I think about presenting, using Keynote, and where Keynote needs to go next.

One of the things I expressed most forcefully on my meeting in Pittsburgh two years ago was the need for Keynote to have better timing assembly and control both within slides and across slides.

The feedback I received indirectly, and which continued when  members of the Keynote team attended my Presentation Magic workshops at Macworld, was that it was high priority. If I could read between the lines, the fact that it has not occurred even after five editions of Keynote was not that it wasn’t important but that it needed to be done right.

Right in Apple’s vernacular normally means that the senior executives approve it, and in Keynote’s case, since we see it so often used to tell Apple’s story, it’s in Steve Jobs’ hands to give ultimate ascent to any published improvements.

As Keynote has grown in sophistication these past eight years, playing leap frog with its sandpit buddy, Powerpoint for Windows and Mac, as well as new kid on the block, Prezi, the demands for high quality presentations has increased, perhaps stimulated by the popularity of sites like, with its host of wonderful speakers .

I don’t include Slideshare and its ilk in this list because of their static nature, and its emphasis on the slides themselves, and not the presentation.

Why the emphasis on a Timeline?

While presentations, especially in the sciences, remain static, the need for a timeline is low to none. So are transitions and even builds for that matter to judge by the vast majority of science-based presentations I witness at conferences and workshops. If animations are used, it’s usually done so appallingly to bring text in or out. The academic or scientist stands at a podium staring at their Dell or HP laptop or a 17″ monitor hooked into the conference venue’s central server, and hits the mouse, spacebar, or right arrow to advance the next slide or build, if there are builds.

But with Keynote’s attractive and different builds, themes, and transitions crying out for their use, especially when others at the same conference are using good ol’ fashioned Powerpoint, the need for more accurate timings of the eye catching, and potentially more engaging and persuasive message delivery has become increasingly important.

Powerpoint has had timelines for a while now, but only in its Windows product. And even there it’s buried away. While I’ve demanded a timeline for Keynote, and I have played with Powerpoint for Windows (more toyed with it) I can’t say anything positive or negative about it. Indeed, not many people do, even on those blogs dedicated to Powerpoint. If you google “timeline in Powerpoint” you’ll come up with thousands of websites about how to created a slide showing a timeline effect in Powerpoint, or templates to do likewise, but very few about the functional timeline Powerpoint possesses.

One great PPT site is the UK’s m62, and below is a screenshot of how PPT2007 shows its timeline.

You can see the movie and description from which this was taken here.

But it’s clear that the way the Powerpoint engineers have stuck the advanced timeline away as an option that it’s not considered terribly important. I could be even more harsh with Keynote since one doesn’t exist at all!

In fact, if you have a long list of builds on any one slide, you’ll know that changing the timing for one will effect the timings of those builds before and after. And as I have discovered recently, these timings are not rock solid; they seem to be somewhat flexible, such that for one mission critical keynote I had to export the slide to a Quicktime movie and then import the result onto another slide so that with one click all the timings would be spot on permanently since I was playing a movie.

Now it’s not as if Apple has no expertise in creating functional timelines.

Starting with the original iMovie 1.0, its software has been dominated by timelines which leap off the page as central to the workflow for the application.

Below, an image of iMovie 4 and its timeline, not too different from the original iMovie 1.0.

Later in iLife, with the introduction of Garageband, amateurs got their first taste of using multiple audio timelines, and iDVD can be considered another amateur’s example. And of course in all the professional variations of Final Cut Pro suite, the timeline is the dominant feature for FCP, Motion, DVD Studio Pro, and Soundtrack Pro.

To go the other direction, iMovie on the iPhone and iPad further demonstrates Apple is very capable of easy to use, functional timelines, (below, from

Outside of Apple, few have bettered the timeline implementation experience than the Boinx software folks, with their Fotomagico software as well as BoinxTV, and iStopMotion (below).

And here is Fotomagico’s interface, with multiple graphics manipulations in the one window (note the two rotary dials above the timeline):

The other area in which specific timelines has become a very important asset is screen movies, where one is trying to teach the use of software in real time as it were, by recording mouse and window manipulations in real time, with a voice over recorded live or added later, plus special effects like call outs.

I use ScreenFlow for my own training, and here’s an example in action (not me, however!):

I think by now you get the idea. There is no shortage of models, good and not so good, for the development of a timeline in Keynote where the timing of events within and across slides can be precisely manipulated.

For me, I’d say it has become my #1 essential element in any Keynote update on the horizon (there are several #2s, including call outs, QT movie manipulation and effects within Keynote, improved masking, etc.)

That said, what are the essential elements a timeline in Keynote should do?

1. It ought to provide a live preview of the effect in question, such that it displays in both real time, as well as being scrubbable so that I can see what happens before and after in rapid time. Too often now, I have to wait minutes before I get to see if my current build on a busy slide needs to be tweaked by a second or two.

2. This means I should be able to see a build or effect in the middle of a slide’s sequence, not have to go back to the beginning each time I make an adjustment.

3. I should be able to see multiple builds and actions in relation to each other, much like I can with Garageband’s multiple tracks, where I can see where one starts and one ends precisely.

4. Currently, the builds when individual elements are grouped to act as one are broken. That is, while each element gets its own name, when grouped, each group is simply named “Group.” You have no idea which group the name refers to: not even Group 1, Group 2 etc to give some idea of which group is being worked on. This also causes much headaches when figuring out which group is front or back.

5. For some time now, Powerpoint has allowed a sound file to play as a transition takes place. While a minor consideration, there are number of times when I have wanted to employ not just a visual but an auditory metaphor when transiting slides. This also goes for having the one track play across several slides for continuity. If you want this now in Keynote, you have to crowd all the elements onto one slide, with one track of music per slide.

6. A well constructed timeline would also make it see much easier to follow and select out individual elements on a complicated, multi-build slide which currently is a virtual nightmare of force forward and back to gain control. The Inspector is little help here currently. If I am right in thinking Keynote will get the Final Cut X treatment, the Inspector will be the first to go and be completely redesigned.

These are some of my thoughts on timelines and Keynote. Perhaps for you, it’s not important and other feature sets cry out for implementation. But given the level of work needed to bring these ideas into a future version of Keynote, I am becoming more and more convinced a redesign is necessary. The length of time between updates provides more evidence that this is the case.

Your thoughts?

Will Apple do to the next Keynote what it just did to Final Cut Pro? A complete redesign? Me? I certainly hope so…

If plentiful rumours hold to be true, in the next 72 hours we may well see Mac OS X Lion released into the wild. As I write this, it has just become July 14 in Australia, Bastille Day for Francophiles.

How timely would it be that a software which has leant itself to revolutionary products would be updated on a day which recognises freedom and independence? It would be a fitting acknowledgment of the contribution to OS X (and NeXT before it) of retiring Apple senior VP, Bertrand Serlet. Personally, I think Steve Jobs is something of a Francophile, having featured crosses to Paris when first demonstrating iChat at Macworld many years ago, as well as featuring the Eiffel Tower when showing off the iPhone’s Google maps in 2007.

The rumours of Lion’s imminent release gathered further credence in the last day or so with the updating of iLife’s elements, including curiously iWeb and iDVD which some have presumed are to be end-of-lifed soon.

And of course with Lion imminent, iLife updated and iCloud waiting in the wings, thoughts to turn iWork being updated.

It’s been two years now, and amongst other things, online training has become a billion dollar business. I have managed to convince my own professional society not to go with a Continuing Education online program which features Adobe Flash, so as to encourage more members to become mobile users of its website where the training is undertaken.

While I wasn’t able to convince them to use Keynote to create the training, it’s my belief more and more organisations will see Apple’s inexpensive application as offering real advantages for creating engaging presentations.

But now I’m going to stick my neck out and ponder the likelihood of Apple doing a “Final Cut Pro X”: that is, a radical rethink and repurposing of Keynote to meet the needs of modern presenters.

We know that many professional video editors have expressed sincere unhappiness with the new version of FCP, while others have expressed admiration for Apple’s desire to change familiar programs in the belief they can be significantly improved, but only with a complete rewrite and rethinking.

I for one will not be surprised if this same event occurs for Keynote in the next few days. While much of its energy has been expended on Keynote for the iPad, the small Keynote team has also been working on Keynote for the desktop to judge from keynotes delivered at Apple events in the past year.

While we’ve seen nothing radical in its effects, we haven’t been exposed to how Keynote is constructing these presentations. I’m going to offer an educated guess that one of Keynote’s most requested items, a timeline to better manage events on a slide as well as across multiple slides, will make its appearance, and will require a completely new look-and-feel. I’m aware from discussion with the Keynote team this has been a high priority but a difficult one to institute to match the velvety smooth workflow Keynote offers when compared to Powerpoint.

For instance, in the last day to two, I’ve once more had to resurrect a slide I constructed for a consultee. It’s a complex slide, incorporating several movies, builds and a voice over narration.

The builds require precise timing to match the voice over. But moving from one Mac to another and with repeated playings, the timings become inconsistent. Moreover, when adopting the workaround of exporting the slide to a Quicktime movie, the timings become even more bizarre. The best handling of this dilemma is to play the slide manually while recording a screen movie using something like Screenflow.

This is hardly the best solution for a professional software. Having a sophisticated timeline device to manage multiple media and their ins and outs is a truly missing piece of the presentation puzzle for Keynote to overcome. Professional users really don’t need that many more themes, transitions and builds styles, but better management of existing ones.

Other desirable elements include editing of sound and video within the Keynote slide. Editing currently is terribly crude, allowing for alteration of beginnings or endings, but altering something in the middle or multiple edits requires the user to head to an external app and do the editing there, and re-import  the finished file.

While masking and Alpha masking photos has been a terrific addition to the most recent Keynote (2009), Powerpoint has caught up, and Apple needs to lift its game and improve the Alpha masking for finer detail. Moreover, it truly needs to find a way to perform masking for the moving image. We know Apple can do it judging from its recent efforts with masking with iChat, due to be updated in Lion.

And of course, exporting Keynote to another format, such as Powerpoint or Quicktime is a very hit and miss affair. With iCloud and document updating and perhaps some extra features in Lion to come, Keynote’s sharing abilities will also be enhanced.

We’ll know hopefully in the next little while whether the long wait for a new Keynote has been worthwhile. But given Apple’s history with successful apps., such as Final Cut and iMovie, whereby an inspired worker can initiate a radical shift in work flow, resulting in upset professionals, I won’t be at all surprised if we soon see a new Keynote with familiar features left out. But I’d expect that in time, with new features added which simply couldn’t be managed in the old but familiar version, long-time Keynote users will manage the transition with aplomb.

After all, some people did amazing things with Keynote 1.0 when it was released in 2003, coming as it did as a breath of fresh air when compared to the dominant Powerpoint. It’s eight years later, and it’s time for a new look and feel Keynote which takes presenting to whole other level.

Comments invited below.

Whither Apple’s Keynote ’11 – thoughts on its much anticipated but very overdue appearance. Is it the fault of the iPad?

Another Apple keynote has come and gone (WWDC 2011) and another opportunity to reveal Apple’s updated Keynote has also come and gone.


Like so many others who’ve delighted in Keynote’s ability to help us develop persuasive and engaging slide presentations and other visual delights, I look forward to each public display of Keynote by Apple senior executives to gather intelligence on new features and guess at possible release dates.

Since its last version update in 2009, Keynote has seen updates to text and build animations but no new transitions or special effects displayed in Apple keynotes. Those text and build updates, such as the drop and dust (demoed at WWDC, below) build have yet to be included in the official current version.

Apple VP iOS, Scott Forstall demoes drop and dust build-in

In my mind, Keynote 11 (or KN6 if you prefer) is pretty well cooked. I don’t mean toast, but cooked in the sense that it no longer needs baking in the oven to convert its essential ingredients into a tasty whole.

In the half dozen or so Apple keynotes since January 2009 (e.g. iPad 1 and 2, WWDC ’10 and ’11, and special Back to the Mac events) we’ve seen the same Keynote on display. Or at least no new effects or features have been sighted.

In the meantime, Keynote on the iPad is now at 1.4, meaning there have been five versions since its release in April, 2010 when the iPad 1 came to market. More a playtoy than a real presentation tool when first released, it’s clear the iWork team has been busy bringing Keynote up to speed such that it can stand alone as a presentation creation tool as well as the presenter app itself.

Contrary to what many think, Apple’s iWork team is quite small in number, dispersed around the US mainland rather than based entirely out of Cupertino. Apple does not have unlimited resources to throw at Keynote, and what they have seems to have been mustered to make sure Keynote on the iPad is the real tool it’s turning out to be, collecting features and capabilities aiming for, but not yet achieving parity with Keynote on the desktop.

Frankly, I don’t think Apple’s in any great hurry to do this, despite Keynote’s afficionados hoping for it. I think Keynote for iPad will develop along its own course, taking advantage of the iPad’s special and unique capabilities. Last week, I witnessed students at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School using Keynote on the iPad for their projects having not touched the desktop version at all. They don’t see weaknesses as we old hands at Keynote do, only possibilities.

In many ways, these students resemble those of us who began with Keynote 1.0 in 2003, when Powerpoint 97  or 2000 was the only show in town. Keynote fell way short of Powerpoint’s feature set at the time, yet those of us who persisted with it knowing it possessed special qualities, found ways to work around its shortcomings. We relished each update allowing us to push past boundaries and eventually create a new paradigm for presenting, such that anytime you witness a Keynote now, you know you’re not witnessing a Powerpoint slide show.

(Mind you, even in Keynote 1.0 we had superior file importing especially movies, transparency effects, rotations, and of course superior and cinema-like builds and transitions. Only now in Powerpoint 2011 do we see Presenter mode actively promoted, although I hardly ever meet Powerpoint users who even know it exists).

This is how these high school students are using Keynote on the iPad. Pushing it without concern for its limitations, not knowing that it is less featured compared to the desktop version.

But then again if you witness any  of Steve Jobs’ recent keynotes, almost every build and animation he has asked desktop Keynote to perform can be done on the iPad too. None of Jobs keynotes in recent memory have really pushed Keynote to the limit such that I sit back and ask “Just how did he do that?” something I get frequently from even experienced Keynote users at my Presentation Magic workshops at Macworld and elsewhere.

Given that Keynote sprang from Jobs’ head originally, and he likely remains its primary beta tester (I’m guessing after OS X, iOS, Mail and iChat, Keynote might be his most used app on a daily basis), there is no hurry or demand to increase its feature set.

That has to come from the iWork team itself taking their ideas to Jobs to sign off on as both worthwhile, and not decreasing its stability. What other app do you see that gives you the option of including “obsolete” animations (below)?

Obsolete Animations? It's your choice...

My guess is that what gets Jobs’ approval are those additions which enable more things to be done with one click; allow Keynote to be more cinematic in its abilities, and now with the importance to Apple’s future of the cloud (as in iCloud) lend themselves to sharing between versions, locations and device.

Something that can only be done on one device is less likely to get a guernsey in future editions than features which can be included across the board.

At the moment, Keynote on the iPad seems to be driving the show, with Apple’s original uncertainty about its tablet’s success now replaced by confidence it’s on to something big, a part of which we witnessed being laid out (or at least its beginning) at last week’s WWDC keynote.

I still keep peppering away at my contact within iWork with feature requests and examples I have created in Keynote (albeit laboriously) as well as features I’ve witnessed in other media (eg., text effects in cinema, visual effects in television current affairs) but that contact is soon to leave Apple and I’m hoping I get a chance to continue my liaison with other members.

For now, we wait. Those features I have most asserted are needed to take Keynote up a notch are those I have labelled as call outs: features which kill the laser pointer and then allow presenters to bring audience attention to aspects of their slides where the essential learning takes place, using animations, colours, focus, and movement subtly.

To conclude, we know another version of Keynote is out there – we’ve seen some of its capabilities in each of Apple’s keynotes for the past two years. With iCloud, iOS and Lion 10.7 just around the corner, one can only hope that their release into the wild unleashes a new version of Keynote which takes advantage of all three elements shown at WWDC 2011 and helps raise presentation skills to a new level.

Getting a new version of Keynote in time for the new school year (in the northern hemisphere) and final presentations in the current school year in the southern hemisphere, would put the icing on the Lion cake.

Even the US President has learnt how to use multimedia to get a humorous message across (at the White House Correspondents’ dinner)

Before I continue with part 2 of my series on scientists and others presenting, a short distraction featuring the US President, Barak Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, April 30 in Washington.

These are usually fun events no matter which party is in power, and offers the incumbent an opportunity to show what a good fellow he is, usually poking fun at himself, and perhaps a few others worthy of retort.

This year, Obama played on the birther issue and whether he was really an American, and to his good fortune, the most recent doubter of celebrity status, Donald Trump, was in the audience.

Upon being introduced to the attendees, an old World Wrestling Enterntainment soundtrack, “I’m a real American” was played, this being Hulk Hogan’s anthem.

From there, the graphics displayed harmonised with the music, including a bopping enlargement of Obama’s birth certificate, something one can easily do in both Powerpoint and Keynote using the scale animations timed to match the sounds.

I can’t imagine too many other times you’d use this element to good effect, but it seems to work here.

Notice too, if you stay with the video, how Obama also incorporates other videos (The Lion King) to humorous effect to make his point about his origins.

It seems to me this relatively young President is showing he is au fait with new technologies and the need to engage audiences with multimedia, despite his being quite the orator, and raconteur. Some lessons to be learnt here, no doubt.

I don’t know what software was used to create the piece, but perhaps now that Obama carries with him an iPad, he may insist that any slideshows conducted in his presence are done with Keynote! That’d be one way to tell the military brass around him who is really Commander-in-Chief.

Here’s the video via YouTube, below. Enjoy!

Presentation skills for scientists and evidence-based practitioners: don’t lose your audience Authority with lousy Powerpoint or Keynote

I was in Sydney several months ago presenting to the X World conference on Presentation Magic. Attendees are those who work in university settings administering and training in Apple based hardware and software. Apple Australia is a major sponsor and usually brings out a few speakers from the US who are experts in various Apple software implementations.

I was invited to give an hour’s talk, using Keynote, to help attendees make a shift from their standard way of presenting to something a little more appealing for their audiences.

Two of the slides I included, and spoke about of relevance to scientists, was the one below, using the Magic Move transition:

Slide 1 contains the words Triple A; slide 2 has the three A’s aligned vertically and the words, Authority, Authenticity, Attention then build in secondly using the animation, Dissolve by Letter from Centre.

I refer to the Triple A “engine” as one of the driving forces behind developing persuasive and engaging presentations, especially where the presenter is allegedly an expert in his or her field, and is delivering complex information to a lay audience. Such as in Climate Change science.

The term “Triple A engine” is one I’ve borrowed from a book entitled, Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians, by the late Al Cooper. You can find out more about the book here.

In the online sexuality context, Cooper spoke of how the internet was (initially) causing a sexual revolution due to the Triple A engine of online behaviour:

Access, Affordability, Anonymity.

Indeed, before Keynote’s Magic Move transition came along in the latest version,  I’d offered workshops on online sexuality and created the same effect using these words manually over several slides, but Magic Move makes it so much easier, and is a major inclusion on the iPad version of Keynote, making up for much of that apps’ animation feature absence.

In the current context, it helps audiences get a grip on your ideas, especially ones they may be unfamiliar with or challenged by, if you keep those ideas initially to a maximum of three ideas. Any more, and it becomes a list and the switch off factor jumps by an order of magnitude. This is because of Cognitive Load being stretched if we go beyond three ideas being held simultaneously. It’s why we often “chunk” new telephone numbers into sets of three, e.g. 212-555-2091.

There are many “terms of three” in the natural environment to help us make sense of the world. We can describe objects by their length, width, and height; we can describe an aircraft’s movements in three planes: yaw, pitch and roll. Pigments can be described by hue, saturation and colour. And so on. Things described in threes seem to be more memorable to most humans.

Because I only had an hour or so at X World, it was enough to bring this Presentation Triple A engine to the audience’s attention. But in longer training sessions, I expand with examples on what each term means, and this can itself take an hour. This is because the concepts underlying the Triple A engine are so central in helping scientists in particular get across their complex messages to a variety of audiences.

Before looking at each one in turn, please think about the Triple A’s as if they were deposits in the Bank of A. Your rich Uncle Thaddeus or Aunt Maude has died recently and you being their favourite nephew or niece their will allows part of their considerable estate to be paid to you in trust. Your task, the executor of the will tells you, is to make philanthropic advances with your bequest, in particular, to improve knowledge sharing amongst both strangers and friends on important topics.

You can dip into the account to make withdrawals to invest in a potentially risky venture, but overall your task is not to become a spendthrift but to keep the account growing so you might eventually pass it on, or forward, to someone else who can continue the good work of knowledge sharing.

Your Bank of Authority

One trust account is entitled Authority.

When you are invited to give a keynote or address it’s more than likely someone will have setup the situation such that before you open your mouth there is a promise to the audience of your authority status: that you have something important to share, and it’s worth the audience’s time, energy and perhaps money to be there to witness your presentation. There is something they will gain by being there, both tangible and intangible.

(My hope after a Presentation Magic offering is that attendees can leave the presentation and almost immediately make changes to how they present or conceive of their next presentation. That’s a tangible outcome. An intangible one might be the memory of attending a concert by a favourite performer – oftentimes, the sound doesn’t match the recorded song, but being there will stay with you for a long, long time, like the time I witnessed Frank Sinatra perform in Honolulu in 1987 or so. His voice was already compromised but, ah… the experience of being there…)

Moreover, your presence will have been announced ahead of time in the usual publicity outlets, plus the newer social media ones, like Twitter as well as push email. Your audience might receive a flyer by snail mail or email detailing who you are and your subject.

Your background or bio will usually be spoken once more by the event’s host, and you will be invited onto stage, hopefully to generous applause.

Those on the motivational speaking circuit (doing it tough except for the most famous during the GFC) will hear their audience revved up with motivational music, and I get the feeling you’re expected to bound onto stage! Often times, when hype is part of the audience experience, the host will ask the locals to give you a real “Texas ( or substitute Organisation, or state, or country) welcome”. To then sit there with your arms crossed over your chest would be considered churlish.

Of course, for scientists, this plea for authority status is a little different! Usually, to help convey your status, the host will announce the number of publications (and journals) you have written; what professional memberships (and subcommittees) you belong to, awards and grants you have received, and so on. It would be unlikely the number of times you have appeared on Oprah, David Letterman or Good Morning America will be mentioned if the audience is made up of peers; but if it’s a lay audience, their mention will add to your authority not detract from it.

(As an aside, because of my awareness of such issues, I will usually supply the event co-ordinator my own bio having sussed out who my audience will be. Groups of psychologists will get one, IT managers another, lawyers a third, each emphasising what I want the audience to know about me to advance my authority, ie, to maintain my Bank of Authority balance).

The next contribution to your bank account will assisted by the physical attributes of the presentation setting. This is where I and my hosts usually need to negotiate. Hosts have usually in advance setup the location according to standard hotel or venue properties: a lecturn with a microphone, a laptop (usually a PC) sitting next to the lecturn, or if a little more advanced, a presentation remote following your uploading your powerpoint to a central server.

I get into trouble here because I insist on using my own laptop, my own remote, and my own remote monitor for real time monitoring of what the data projector is showing. This means I also bring with me my own 17″ monitor and VGA splitter box so that the laptop’s video signal goes to the data projector and the monitor. This usually means I bring a l-o-n-g VGA-VGA cable, as well as a powerboard for the monitor and splitter box.

(I did this at the X Conference and it surely impressed upon the A/V technicians present (it was a very professional conference setup) that I was also a professional in my field: “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” is the usual comment, especially when I also bring out my audio cable extension chord, showing I have thought about all possibilities. To the A/V guys, and the host who witnessed me setting up, it stamped my authority as an experienced presenter, before I even opened my mouth with my opening comment. By the way, treating A/V professionals with respect will get you a long way, especially if things start to go south. Treat them with disdain, and should problems develop, you’ll be amazed how the problems seem unsolveable or keep popping up. Capish?)

So with introductions over, it’s the presenter’s turn to hold the stage, and it’s here that either an almighty withdrawal from the Bank of Authority occurs, or a little interest is added. In other words, it’s the presenter’s for the taking or losing.

So here’s a list of how to squander that good fortune that has been carefully nurtured:

1. You approach the lectern and give the microphone a few strongs taps, sending thumps through the loudspeaker system, and a squeal of high-pitched feedback as well. The audio technician at the back of the hall rips off his headphones to protect his eardrums, and then curses you for potentially damaging his expensive Sennheiser microphone. In his eyes, you’re already an amateur regardless of the professional introduction made about you.

Of course, perhaps you’ve been told off by a technician in a previous talk, so you’ve now learnt to just blow into the microphone to make sure it’s on and achieve the same loss of authority. Next, you can squander your authority by speaking right into the microphone and causing more feedback and a sudden cutting of volume back at the mixing panel.

Wise speakers know just how far to stand from the microphone having watched their host introduce them, and leave it up to the audio technician, when there is one, to adjust the volume up or down to suit their your voice.

2. You start with a “Good Evening” or some other salutation, then say as you turn to face the screen (putting your back to the audience), “Let’s see if I can get these slides to work…” Or, rather than using the remote control, you hit a key on the the laptop nearby hoping to start the slideshow but instead you drop out of the show and reveal the three hundred text-filled slides which comprise your hour long talk, much to the collective groan of the audience who at a less than conscious level say to themselves, “Oh dear! Yet another boring Powerpoint”.

3. Your first slide is so complicated and overblown with words and images showing not just your subject title, and your name, but all the sponsoring organisations and stakeholders whom you’ll have to thank sooner or later. The less than conscious take from this by the audience is of someone trying much too hard, and a diminution of your authority. You see, after all the introductions and advanced publicity to establish your authority, the time for proof has now arrived, and any more padding is seen as artificially inflating. If artificial sounds like artifice, there’s a reason for that. One definition of artifice is:

Clever or cunning devices or expedients, esp. as used to trick or deceive others: “artifice and outright fakery”

Here’s one such “opening slide” from a deck downloaded from the web:

The actual presentation slides contain some very useful information for its intended audience, but the opening slide, perhaps seen on the screen while the speaker is introduced looks like it was put together hastily on the flight to the conference. The circular words on the logo bottom left would be so small as to be illegible to anyone at the back of the conference room.

Here’s another one from a figure of assumed authority:

I think you’ll agree, an incredibly busy and dense opening slide, meant to convey authority, but what it conveys to the audience is, “You’re gonna be working hard in this presentation reading lots of my slides”.

Now this would be a good slide to include in a deck that will be posted online, since it gives contact details for follow-up, but this type of slide should be avoided in a live presentation for what I hope are obvious reasons.

And if you think I’m wrong about the “working hard” criticism, take a look at slide 16 (of 51) of the deck:

How can you expect to have your authority confirmed (“do the walk and the talk”) when you:

1. Use stick figures embedded in non-sensical chintzy clipart
2. The left sided motif containing much wording and lettering is a positively distracting and overloaded slide “feature”.
3. The robotic continuation of the conference title and theme further adds to slide clutter. Show it on the first slide, and be done with it. Include it if you must on your downloadable slide set, and that’s it.
4. One hopes that the bulleted theories, lower right, were brought in singly perhaps each with a gentle dissolve, but the lack of thinking about the slide would suggest: Not.

I’ll finish this first part of this series of blog articles intended for scientists by suggesting that so many scientists or those who come from an evidence-base and whose selection for conferences is based on their research being evidence-based, appear to eschew any evidence for how best to present their work to a variety of audiences, if their published powerpoints are reliable sources of evidence in themselves.

It’s not that they don’t care. I don’t know any scientists who don’t wish their presentations to go well, and the old ideas of presenting just to add to your CV is an attitude of the past, I believe.

No, it’s the usual culprits: social conformity, time pressures, working in a text-based domain which is fine for personal communication but which is shallow for large group presentations, and of course, the ease with which tools like Powerpoint and Keynote can allow for slide construction which originally in 35mm format was the province of trained graphic designers.

We’re now living in a world where it’s so easy to convey or be bestowed authority but one where our need for quality assurance of experts is never more necessary. Learning how to take control of this by virtue of your slide construction and presentation skills is I believe a very important – no, essential – component for those who wish to make an impact on their audiences.

In the next blog articles, I’ll look at the other two A’s, Authenticity and Attention.

For now, your comments are welcomed.