I’ve been travelling around Australia giving workshops to teachers about presentation skills as well as technologies and mental health. Few teachers have ever heard of Apple’s Keynote presentation software, as I discovered when many came up to me after my presentations to ask how I did what I did – the why was pretty obvious!
I’ve also in the meantime been asked to become part of my professional society’s organising committee for its 50th anniversary conference in Queensland in 2015. I was part of the organising conference for its 25th anniversary where I was much involved in both the social program as well as the media coverage.
I think this time around my involvement will be concerned with social media, something that didn’t exist as we know it now all those years ago.
So with this in mind, I was delighted to see in my Zite feed today a blog post from a professor of Sociology, Steven Fuller, now at Warrick University in the UK.
When I read the blog entry, I tweeted, “Halleluya, Brother”, so happy was I to see someone who also wished changes for academic conferences.
You can read the bulk of them at Fuller’s blog, but let me highlight (with the author’s permission) his first thee principles for presenters:
1. A conference is a distinct channel – perhaps even genre – of academic communication. It is not a watered-down or zombie version of the academic print culture. It requires its own ‘peer review’ standards that do not simply trade on the conventions of academic writing. Thus, instead of abstracts, prospective presenters should send video clips of 1-3 minutes that convey what will be said and how it will be said.
2. Presenters should be strongly discouraged from reading their presentations. More generally, presenters should be forced to make a special case for presenting material that is already available in print. The norm for conference presentations should be new material – unless a presenter hails from a field with which conference members are unlikely to be familiar.
3. Presentations heavily reliant on Powerpoint should be gathered thematically into what are essentially high-tech poster sessions rather than be given stand-alone speaker slots. This may mean that a larger percentage of the space in the conference facility is given over to such sessions. Indeed, organizers may wish to consider that the explicitness of many Powerpoint presentations render the human presenter redundant. Thus, interested conference goers may simply be directed to a computer terminal where all the Powerpoint-based presentations are loaded, perhaps with recorded voice-overs from the absent presenters.
I like these sentiments – a lot!
Fuller clearly understands that academic conferences need to change, and how presenters are selected and expected to present is different from that which pervades conferences now, based almost exclusively on the same principles as for paper publications.
He recognises that conferences are not the place for the regurgitation of printed articles, but are a meeting place of ideas, and where presentations to large groups need to be exceptional.
It neatly follows my lectures to teachers this past month where I have described the history of moral panics down the centuries when new technologies have been introduced. Whether it be the loss of jobs or whole industries, our brains are changing, “knowledge is power” struggles, or issues of privacy, how we change technology and how technology changes us is an important ongoing discussion we need to be having.
Certainly, technologies like Powerpoint and Keynote and Prezi are changing how we distribute knowledge, and readers of this blog will be aware of my beliefs that it’s not all positive, especially in the case of Powerpoint. While many still follow the meme that Powerpoint is merely a tool badly used by too many, I fall into the camp that it is a very poor tool to begin with for knowledge distribution, especially in an age which is demanding far more audio-visual literacy, as Thompson points out.
A few choice quotes from the book:
I don’t know that I need to place too much context around these quotes about Powerpoint – the astute reader will get the picture. It’s one of the things I have been banging on about consistently in my Presentation Magic workshops for those who attend: that the world of knowledge transfer, sharing and engagement is undergoing a radical shift and the usual means – i.e., traditional and socially normed – will no longer cut it as the 21st Century progresses.
Using software merely as an advanced overhead projector system – for which Powerpoint was originally developed for the Macintosh in the mid-1980s is a dead technology walking, no matter how you spruce it up, as we’re about to see when the next version for Windows is released soon.
The next generation of learners, employing their iPads in school, will be using Keynote or equivalents available on the iPad since 2010, with Powerpoint on the iPad mainly used by those currently in industry compelled to use the desktop version and needing some sort of tablet parity mobility.
But may I suggest, a whole generation of young people will never use Powerpoint. Kind of makes a mockery of all the educational administrators all those years ago who insisted their schools to standardise on Microsoft products like Word and Powerpoint because “that’s what the kids will be using when they enter the workforce in ten years”.
It’s now been a few days since the October Apple keynote announcing new products and services. Much to many Keynote presentation software users’ initial delight, Keynote 6 was announced, almost five years after the last significant update.
I write “initial” because for many, to judge from Apple’s own discussion support groups, and others on Yahoo, this update feels retrograde, with too many existing elements cast out, and insufficient hoped-for new features added.
Indeed, some expected they could open their existing and in some cases very complex Keynote 5 files and expect them to somehow be transformed magically into something ethereal. Or at least just work.
I did this too, only to watch a shopping list roll down before my eyes, of missing builds replaced by a default “dissolve”, missing transitions – ditto – and missing fonts.
This of course was the same experience I “enjoyed” when I opened Keynote on the iPad the first time in July, 2010, again with the hope of full compatibility.
When that didn’t happen, and another year went by with no upgrade to Keynote (but numerous updates to the iOS version), Apple’s intentions for iWork became clear.
So, before you go installing iWork – actually the three apps that used to be referred to as iWork – please bear the following thoughts I have previously cast on this blog in mind. And then I’ll make some recommendations. Don’t rush in – I did before the free update for iWork DVD installed apps actually became free (it took about 24 hours after the October keynote), and paid $40 for Pages 5 and Keynote 6.
On this blog, I have suggested, not based on insider knowledge, but a long time user and observer, that Keynote 5 would not receive an update until there could be parity between iOS and Mac OS versions.
With the A7 chip and Mavericks, and the maturing of the “iWork in the cloud” beta, that has come about. It’s a distinct poke in the eye to Microsoft and we long term power users of Keynote are the poker. We have been sacrificed on the alter of “progress”, parity, and another nail in the Microsoft hegemony/monopoly/”we control the vertical – we control the horizontal” – attitude to the consumer.
But I also predicted much gnashing of teeth from said Keynote users would parallel our colleagues in the Final Cut Pro sector who had hoped for further evolution of their professional “It pays the bills” software, only to be rendered (ahem!) Final Cut X. For some it felt as if an iMovie Pro had been thrown at them: They were insulted as power users. The same can be now said to be happening to Keynote power users, who’ve been with the program for a decade.
Many in the Final Cut Pro world of course left for seemingly greener grass and the open arms of Adobe and Avid, who facilitated this unexpected gift from the gods. But those who stayed with the Apple program have apparently received their reward as FCP X has matured, and now we see it matched to the Mac Pro. One can reason with some predictability that the same iterative process will happen with Keynote given how well it had been selling on both desktop and iOS devices, and especially for the latter, the generation of schoolchildren with iPads who will never touch Powerpoint.
For now, I am following my own advice:
1. Install KN 6 (and Pages 5) on the Mavericks partition on my Macbook Air (Haswell). Do not install on the Mountain Lion/Keynote 5 partition. KN6 does not work under ML. (I have a developer license for Mavericks). Make sure your Time Machine has been put to good use.
2. Duplicate mission critical keynote files and transfer them to the Mavericks partition, and convert them to KN6 and see the tragedy that unfolds…. dissolve, dissolve, dissolve…
2a. IMPORTANT: If you have installed Mavericks on a single partition and now have KN6 and KN5 on the same hard drive as your KN5 files, don’t double click these files to work on them. They will open in KN6, which will try to convert them. If you want to work on them in KN5, rather than play in KN6, first open KN5 then either use the “Open…” menu item or drag the files you wish to use onto the KN5 icon in the dock.
Mavericks sees KN6 as the default for ALL Keynote files. You’ve been warned.
3. See if some of my proudest achievements in Keynote can be fixed in KN 6 (e.g. shaking book) or at least repaired or even improved; hey, you never know. (Have Kleenex tissue at the ready). Update: there are improvements to be made, and even less clicking in some cases. I will post later how I fixed and improved the Shaking book effect. I do believe Apple was inspired by it via the inclusion of a new “jiggle” effect, as well as a new “pulse” build.
4. Explore which of my third party KN stuff, from developers like Jumsoft, etc., remain compatible, including motion background themes (QT looping) movies. Monitor their websites for signs of life.
UPDATE: Sadly for now, Quicktime movies with transparent backgrounds which I like to use a lot are currently broken. Much unhappiness in the 3rd party add-on industry over this. For many, this will mean staying with Keynote 5 not just to keep doing what they’ve been doing, but even for creating new presentations from scratch. If you open these same files with their transparent QT movies in KN5 in Mavericks, they work. Below, an example of a beating heart from Jumsoft, and what happens in KN6.
5. Check out how my helper apps may have been affected, e.g. Doceri for annotating slides, and whiteboarding in Keynote. UPDATE: Doceri is fine – phew! OTOH, Animationist with its beautiful titling effects, will suffer for the same reasons as listed in 4., above: transparency loss.
6. Keep reading blogs and Apple discussion lists for hidden gems (yeah, right! Much gnashing of teeth currently. Most major websites such as Ars Technica, iMore, CNet currently all carry mainly strongly negative “what were they thinking/smoking” jibes at Apple’s iWork engineering team.
7. Watch for KN 6.0.1 to address some of the shortcomings, bugs, etc. This has got to be a long term process and will surely test many long term users resolve. Prezi will welcome them, some will return to the bosom of Powerpoint (“The herd may stink, but at least it’s warm”) while some like me will divvy the work between KN5 and KN6 in the short term.
8. Stick with my day job as a clinical psychologist, and presentation skills trainer where even current KN on the iPad is better than how most use Powerpoint on the desktop – seriously. That’s not to say Powerpoint on Windows doesn’t have a hugely impressive feature set – it does. But 95% of presentation only ever use 5% of its capabilities – in other words, dull, or replete with the most awful “art text”.
9. My guidance to you: If you’re doing mission critical presenting right now, stay with KN 5 even on Mavericks. Only if you’re starting a new project from scratch, or have the time and energy to update your older files to KN6 (and learn what repairs you’ll need to do), do you employ KN6.
10. There are some immediate disappointments. I am unhappy to lose the Fall transition; the lack of a timeline for precision build timings appalls; while item grouping has improved (more on this in a later blog article), multiple grouped items are all still named “Group”, making it difficult to navigate busy files with numerous groups needing to be layered. Smart builds, like those rotating turntables and object swapping has been dropped. The Keynote engineering team were always disappointed in their take-up, even though they had a huge splash when Steve Jobs first showed us the iPhone. Remember the spinning elements: “It’s an iPod; it’s a phone; it’s an internet communicator – are you getting it yet?”, created with Smart Builds.
UPDATE: The loss of hyperlinking within a KN file, and between KN files is for me, a serious one. It will change some of my conceptualisation of knowledge transfer, and my attempts to be more immediate and less linear in my teaching.
One must remember that KN1 initially did not have hyperlinking, and it made its first appearance many years later. It’s not the most used of its features to judge from Keynote workshops I have conducted; of course, after I showed what it could do in terms of audience engagement, I’m sure many explored it further. I do expect it to return in a KN6 update.
FURTHER UPDATE: It’s there in KN6. But buried. I am working on a new blog article about it.
11. Slide editing of Quicktime movies remains the same: Imprecise, and only one “In” and “Out” point for each movie. I would have hoped how movies can be edited on the iPhone might have made its way into Keynote, but it will surely come later.
So, in summary, it’s not the gee whiz, pull out all the stops, show us what you can really do Apple upgrade starved Keynote artists had been hoping for after five years. Our imaginations filled the void, ignoring where Apple is making its money, with iOS devices.
But now that we see a road ahead, powered by A7 chips in iOS devices which will no longer be referred to as toys, or media consumption devices (go back and rewatch the Apple video showing the diversity of iPad uses which starts with the wind energy generators), these content creation devices will drive Keynote further.
There may be a surprise awaiting us with a Keynote Pro with a look and feel of Apple’s Pro software like Final Cut X and Aperture (we can dream), but for now there is a workflow for power users, and that is to keep doing what you’re doing with Keynote 5, and find the time to play with Keynote 6 and become curious and explorative. There are some hidden surprises I will blog about soon.
With Macworld just around the corner, I am tweaking my workshop presentation for January 25. By that time, we will know more about Apple’s publishing keynote to be held this Thursday and whether yet another industry – publishing, especially academic and scholarly – will be disrupted by Apple technologies.
Some time back I wrote about this possibility here on this blog:
Click on the screenshot to go to the blog entry
Notice, will you, the date of this entry: January 7, 2010. The iPad 1 keynote was held on January 27, almost three weeks later, so at the time of writing we were still in the “tablet rumour” phase of iPad’s release.
But it seemed so certain that a tablet was on its way – although up to the day before no one guessed its name – that bloggers like me were already envisioning what its release would mean. For consumers and various industries too, such as publishing.
In my blog entry, this is what I wrote about scholarly publishing:
“Well, I’m saying the same thing to Steve Jobs: “Steve, mate, help science along by luring the publishing world in with a tablet as a lifeline to a dying industry, then grab them by the short and curlies like you did with the music industry!”
What I was referring to was the outlandish price of academic texts, both in book form, as well as downloadable articles for which the major publishing houses still charge anywhere between $25 and $35 for a PDF of perhaps only a few pages.
It’s wild-eyed pricing, given there are so many ways to obtain the same article, from writing directly to the lead author, going to their academic website where their publications are often listed for download, asking a friend with an academic position to get it for you, or using a search engine to eventually locate it. I would say 90% of the time I am successful with one of these methods within a few hours. Remember too, that authors get no royalties, and in some cases are prohibited from distributing their own published work as a condition of being published in a prestigious journal.
The other idea not unique to my thinking when contemplating the Apple tablet was self-publication, something which has been hinted at being included on Thursday, and for which Apple tools, like Pages, already exist, partially.
It seems the iPad is ideal for turning academic texts on their heads, including highly engaging visuals in enhanced versions. Late last year, I bought on iBooks an enhanced book about the dog, Rin Tin Tin, by Susan Orleans.
Note in the screenshot, below, both the book’s cover, and the list of videos within the book’s “covers” (page 14):
Cover and list of chapters
And if you go to Page 14, you’ll see the video listings:
List of Videos in Susan Orlean's Rin Tin Tin
And finally, without showing the movie in action, this is what it looks like, embedded, bearing in mind you can make the video full screen, as well as play it through Airplay to a monitor:
(UPDATE: My colleague Anthony Caruana asks about keeping open multiple books when say working on essays, as one does in analogue format. My response is that a beefed up iPad 3 may allow more multitasking, so that you can have multiple books open “behind” each other, and using an Misson Control-like spread of the fingers, all the books can be seen, much like you can see all the apps or docs when using Mac OS X (below):
Hold the icon down in the Dock, and Show All Windows
Moreover, by using the iPad’s screenshot capabilities you can, as I have above, copy and paste in quotations from sources, to show you actually obtained them, rather than requoting from another source without sighting the original.)
I expect we may see a beefed up Pages announced on Thursday to assist the self-publishing process beyond its current format, and if that is the case, perhaps a reworked iWork 12 too – although it’s tiring to keep flogging a near moribund horse. Who knows, perhaps a new app. to be added to the iWork coterie.
Creating an ePub in Pages is very limited, and indeed you cannot use the professionally created page layout templates Pages comes with to create an ePub. See below:
You can create a vanilla style document and insert video into it, and it will export to ePub format for transfer to an iDevice, like an iPad, using the word processor templates:
While you only see a still image, above, it’s actually a movie file I created for last year’s Macworld (Keynote on the iPad).
But that’s all well and good for private use and sharing. But what if I want to use Keynote and Pages to make a book for sale, perhaps starting with Presentation Magic using Keynote with all the effects and tutorials from my workshops? Rather than have handouts using lots of trees at workshops, why not gift my book for iPads and iPhones so that workshop attendees can either follow along (not my preferred option) or review the workshop afterwards with all the techniques I used explained and illustrated in much more detail?
And of course, the book is for sale on iBooks for a nominal price. Doesn’t this take self-publication to a whole new level? Yes, and like so many things Apple does, it’s been done before, but not this way and not this easily.
The next step is to take on the webinar, online training and Continuing Professional Education fields, which is worth billions.
Using the same tools authors use for their daily work, users could easily take their presentations and workshops and rework them for sale later without the extra expensive outside contractors needed to do it currently. Go and take a look at my APEX presentation of September 12, 2011, which I blogged about here.
The video I mention which is on YouTube was created using Keynote for the slides and presentation, my iPhone 4 to record the video and audio, and ScreenFlow to assemble the exported Keynote slides as a video and the iPhone output into a YouTube video.
This was a one person operation using inexpensive software, which easily lends itself to self-publishing workshops, and which can be value-added with an enhanced book for sale on iBooks Scholar (I just named it that). Perhaps Apple will release more tools for self-publishing a la Garageband integrating the output of Keynote, Pages and iMovie and then uploading them, like a podcast to iTunes University or the iBooks store.
The time is surely right to take on the world of science publishing, and I’m of the belief that this was in fact literally Steve Jobs’ dying wish – to disintermediate another industry which has become lazy and lacked innovation because no one dared stand up to it, much less the scientists who grasp the publishing industry’s teets for their tenured lives.
Publishing on Thursday and Television later in the year: it’s going to be a very interesting year in the science and creative arts in 2012.
[UPDATE: The website, 9-5Mac, reports an interesting juxtaposition occurring. An entry, without naming its author, suggests that Apple’s iWork Vice-President, Roger Rosner, has been transferred and “will be heading up the development of Apple’s entry into the textbook market.”
This is under Apple Senior VP, Eddy Cue, whose presenting style in Apple keynotes I’m no great fan of, but he is one heck of a smart operator, recently promoted, and I believe mentored by Steve Jobs, especially during the iTunes music rollout.
What this means for iWork is open for speculation. Will it mean tighter integration between iWork and Apple’s efforts to bring self-publishing tools to the marketplace in the form of Pages 5 (or iWork 12) or a new application, as suggested in my main blog entry, above? And what of Keynote? Abandoned or beefed up to to assist the creative aspects of self-publishing enhanced books, with audio, video and embedded animations, especially in textbooks?]
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.
There’s a reason why I give away my information and experience on this blog for free, without expectation of reciprocal exchange.
It helps me bring my ideas to paper, to sort them into practical “chunks” so that when I give paid workshops, there’s a place for people to go to investigate more of my ideas and practices. The blog brings me no income, as you can see, containing as it does no Google Adwords or other sources of money, not even a tip-jar.
There’s also an area after each blog entry for readers to both make comments, and to pass on to others the entry link to share around.
So, when I read a blog entry from another presenter which is critical of my endeavours and yet offers no opportunity to respond directly, I have to use my own blog to open up the discussion and see where it takes me and my readership.
Such an event occurred today when my twitter feed showed the following:
Hmm… Something I’ve shown hampers public speaking inadvertently? Well, colour my curiosity piqued!
Heading to the linked website, reveals a blog link on José Silva’s Scrapbook which examines my recent APEX presentation in Seattle which I uploaded to YouTube and blogged about in much detail, describing my choices along the way.
Here’s how José begins his blog entry – and I’m grateful he gets to the point and doesn’t make me wait around too long!
Presentationist Les Posen inadvertently shows why one of the products he recommends is likely to make presenters worse public speakers.
I like Les’s Presentation Magic site (on the internet we’re all on a first name basis, right?). I think it focusses a bit much on presentation sizzle, but then most sites on presentations do. Tufte and Norman, when they discuss presentations, are the exception.
If he sat down on a comfy chair it would be less distracting; it would at least feel natural.
The iKlip in question is merely a holder for my iPad attached to a microphone stand. It facilitates using the iPad as a vanity monitor so I can best know what’s happening on the main screen behind me without turning my back to the audience.
Previously, I’d either use my Mac in presenter mode – something which means you’ve got to stand within easy sight – or bring with me my own vanity monitor and a switch box so the feed to it and the data projector match. Most conference venues will nowadays supply with you a monitor but it’s expected you’ll use it in mirror mode, something I believe is unhelpful to professional presenters when compared to being in presenter mode, previewing the next build or slide.
The iKlip merely allows me to position the iPad in such a way as to facilitate presenter mode, although because I also use the Doceri software package, I can annotate the slides at will. I’m sure many in education will find that facility very useful, and if one’s running an all day workshop, you could add a white slide to the end of your Keynote or Powerpoint stack, and use Doceri as a whiteboard.
Returning to José‘s critique, he observes something I had not perceived or received feedback from others: that I appear to be standing at “parade attention” due to needing to be in close proximity to the iPad, and this is not good public speaking practice.
Personally, I don’t experience my presentation that way, believing myself to be quite animated using hands, body and voice appropriately. Jose would prefer me to have my iPad in my hands and move around the auditorium, freeing up myself and not appearing so stiff and “unnatural”.
In preparing my response, I was reminded of my training in Family Therapy more than twenty years ago. This therapy developed in response to an increasing medicalisation of behavioural issues, especially in children, as well as institutionalisation of those with serious mental illness issues.
Rather than seeing a child or adult as being ill, Family Therapy asked therapists to look at the presenting problem in more systemic, global ways, so that the individual was referred to as the “Identified patient” but treatment involved the entire family. The idea was to remove stigmatising and paralysing “blaming of the patient” and look to see how the whole family interacted and to give the family work to do between sessions to ameliorate the “identified” problem behaviour.
This was a radical approach at the time, and required radical interventions. One of these was the Greek Chorus and the one-way screen. Essentially the therapist interacted with the family while a team behind a one-way window observed the family-therapist interaction, using a two-way intercom to call attention to behaviours not necessarily witnessed by the therapist as well as offer questions and observations, hence the Greek Chorus, as it was termed.
Such devices are great for therapists in training, even if it’s a rather nerve wracking experience. Those behind the screen also had much learning to do, sharpening observational skills, formulating hypotheses about what they were witnessing, and providing feedback and guidance to the therapist in the room with the family.
There was one thing though one learnt via this experience: ultimately, the therapist in the room was best placed to “feel” the ambience and mood in that room, something not experienced behind the screen. Whatever advice they received via the intercom, it was their choice as to what they acted upon, sometimes discarding it completely.
Later, in the group debrief, they needed to justify their actions, and the “you had to be in the room” explanation was used sparingly, since it’s hard to put into words the “being with the family” experience.
This is my rebuttal to Jose. What he’s seeing is a video of what happened in the auditorium where the presentation took place. I was there, and responded to the experience as I felt best at the time.
Let me get more to the point, so we may all learn something here.
How I chose to move or not move around the auditorium was determined far less by the iKlip and Doceri than Jose would have it. It was more determined by the practicalities of my audiences. Yes, audiences.
You see, going into this presentation I had in my mind several audiences whose compositions and needs I could only guess at. The first audience was the live one in the room, composed of aviation personnel. As it turned out, they were not a homogeneous group, but came from many areas of aviation. They were seated in a very large room, which held 250 people. The room setup was to place the presenters on a podium, the guest speaker behind a lectern, stage right, and the slideshow way over on stage left.
I was probably the only speaker on the day to get down with the audience, and use Keynote, not Powerpoint. (Many conferences I attend either expect you to bring your own laptop and do all the tech support; or they go completely into control freak mode, and expect you to hand in your Powerpoint which they place on a central server to be played on their supplied PCs.)
So that’s my primary audience which will give one instant feedback as to one’s presentation, and either charge you up or deflate you as you go along.
But I also prepared, when constructing the presentation and its delivery, that I would have at least two other audiences, with quite different learning expectations and priorities…. and these would not be in the live audience to give me instant feedback.
It was my plan to video the presentation and give it to the APEX education committee to place on their private site, for members to watch and download at their leisure. What I was told was that my slides were required for this exercise. And of course I know that if I just sent them just the plain slides without builds and transitions or the accompanying stories, so much would be lost in translation. Of course, being steeped in the cognitive style of Powerpoint (having seen previous APEX slides), their expectation was that my slides would contain all that was needed to convey my story, without my narrative or voice-over. I knew otherwise, so had planned to video my presentation with me on the floor, and cutting in live-action video with my Keynote slides to make it a far more engaging video.
If you go back and view the video on YouTube, you’ll see why I had to limit my movements, so as to stay in camera shot. My iPhone was stationary and set by me to record, with no one to track me as I moved about. Hence, the need not to move out of camera range. That would be fine for the live audience, but the audience watching on YouTube would find it frustrating just to see me move in and out of camera. Here’s Jose himself in action from a camera’s static position, with an hour’s lecture sped up to take just a few minutes (much like we see how Boeing or Airbus assemble a plane in a two minutes.)
Firstly, here’s a screenshot from the video of Jose out of screen range:
This is what I tried NOT to do, and if one of the resultant effects was to come across stiffly, I was prepared to pay the price.
Here’s his YouTube video, and I’m not sure when I watch what is the message behind speeding it up. Note also the hulking and distracting video monitor stand in the centre of the video. Give me my less intrusive iKlip anyday 😉
I mentioned earlier three audiences I was addressing: (1) the live audience, (2) the aviation audience who would watch it on the APEX members-only website, and (3) now a third audience: my own presentation training audience who would watch the video on YouTube where its subject, fear of flying, was merely a vehicle to illustrate my presentation ideas.
For them, how I constructed my slides has always been of interest, but this would be the first time many who had not attended a Presentation Magic workshop would witness me interact with my slides and a live audience, and then read about what and how I did what I did moment by moment. If you can find another presenter who has done this naked work (so to speak) please send me a link so I can put it here and share it.
(This is likely why Jose’s blog entry confused me, focussing as it did on such a small element of my presentation, and making a big deal of something, warning other presenters their’s might be negatively affected.)
I want to focus on a couple more comments Jose made on his blog entry. He asserts I would have come across as more “natural” had I sat in a comfy chair and opined.
Sitting in chairs has the purpose of making a presentation more intimate with strangers. We’ve seen this when the Apple executive team demoed the iPad in keynotes, and more recently, it’s the setup Walt Mossberg took at his and Kara Swisher’s All Things Digital conferences, such as their recent one in Hong Kong.
So sitting down has its place in public speaking in order to create an intimate dialogue when in front of a rather formidable audience or in a friendly small setting, because you want to create a special feeling in the room.
In my presentation at APEX, I was not interested in an intimate dialogue. I was challenged with 30 minutes to convince three audiences of the worthiness of my ideas, and my authority and authenticity in at least two fields: aviation and public speaking. It was not a time for intimacy.
Let me finish this critique of Jorge’s critique with his final words:
For me, Doceri won’t help. I use either a real teleprompter, the eyes-only presenter screen on large monitors at the ten-and-two positions on the floor, or — overwhelmingly — good memory supplemented by notes.
This is all well and good if you are repeating lectures in a familiar environment. But if you’re a public speaker as I am, most often – actually invariably – you are not given these tools Jose relies upon. So, I have to be inventive and the iPad, Doceri and the iKlip take me a long way to being self-sufficient as a presenter while hopefully delivering high quality presentations to diverse audiences on diverse subjects in diverse and sometimes hostile locations.
I appreciate the value of a great memory (which is why I rehearse so much as its an aide memoire), as are notes as long as they don’t interfere with you connecting to the audience.
But I fear that there is only so much of a rapprochement possible here. Focussing on such a small component of what I think is a rather complex, multilevel presentation with numerous audiences in mind doesn’t give me a sense of optimism.
I had dinner last Friday with colleagues with whom I had studied and graduated in Knowledge Management from the University of Melbourne. That course, which was a grand experiment to combine the talents of academic staff from the University’s Education, ICT, and Business/Economics schools lasted but a few years.
Its driving force, recently retired Professor Gabriele Lakomski attended the dinner, and asked when I first started the course with her. In fact, I was in the first intake of 2003, and I remember it clearly, I told her. It’s because in 2003, Apple’s Keynote was introduced (along with Safari and 12″ and 17″ Powerbooks), and I used it very early in our course, some time in March or April. (You need to know that the Australian university year runs from March through November.)
Seated next to us was another student from the same intake, Victoria, and when I said to Professor Lakomski I still remember my first use of Keynote in class, Vicky exclaimed, “Yes, I remember. It was the study on British Aerospace Industries!”
Now this was seven years ago almost to the day, and she still remembered the presentation I did! This was because for all in the class, it would have been the first time they saw Keynote (and me) in action anywhere (unless they had seen the 2003 Macworld Jobs-delivered keynote). I still remember the “oos and ahs” this rather mature student group spontaneously let out when I first showed Keynote’s cube transition, and some red call out boxes to highlight data.
Seated at the same dinner table last Friday were students who entered the course after I had completed my studies, and whom I’ve met at other functions organised by this very social graduate group. One, Winston, works for a very large car manufacturing company whose world headquarters are in Detroit, and was in receipt of bailout money in recent months. The company has been part of the Australian manufacturing sector since the 1940s, and their vehicles remain very popular with Australians.
Somehow, the discussion moved to the iPad, perhaps after I had excused myself from the table to answer my iPhone, and Winston suggested on my return he was interested in getting an iPhone too. I suggested he wait a little while, perhaps June or July, when a new model might become available, and from there a discussion took place about the iPhone’s place in business now that Microsoft Exchange could work with it. It was a quick skip to speculation about the iPad.
Winston put me on the spot to pronounce why the iPad was a better choice than a netbook, which in Australia would be half the price and pack more features, such as a camera, “real” keyboard, iPhone tethering, and the full Microsoft Office suite.
My response was to suggest that the iPad should better be considered not as a computer in the common use of the term, i.e. a notebook or desktop device, but as a knowledge management tool in its own right, and rattled off the sort of apps it would inherit from the iPhone as well as those likely be designed to take advantage of its speed and screen size.
I suggested to Winston that the iPad would have limited initial appeal to computer wonks who wanted merely a smaller form factor for Windows-based computing. It would fail their needs. But I then suggested that there would be huge numbers of ordinary people with very limited knowledge of computer innards and workings – that is, the vast bulk of the Australian population – for whom the iPad would elicit the spontaneous remark:
So this is what computing should be!
No menu bars, no operating system to fiddle with, instant on and ready to use at the simple touch of one button, yet also have powerful business applications such as iWork and Bento and Evernote should this group of users work its way up the skill and learning curve.
When Winston said he had elderly parents who had never touched a computer but had expressed interest in what their use might bring to their lives, I asked him in all honesty which he would buy them: A $400 netbook running Windows Xp (then add the cost of Microsoft Office 2007) or a $650 iPad plus the $50 for iWork + Bento?
The picture of 75 year old mum and dad sitting on their couch wrestling with a netbook with its tiny keyboard and poor resolution screen was enough to observe Winston momentarily pause in his tracks to reconsider his options. Yes, for him, with his background in engineering, a netbook was a no-brainer. A good match for the problems he wished to solve.
But he acknowledged that perhaps he had been too quick to judge the iPad from his own perspective of what he thought computing was about, and not see it from another’s perspective. Of course, being the empathic psychologist I am, this is how I work! It wasn’t to him I was suggesting the iPad made sense, but to the many people for whom, like Winston had learnt for himself, the iPhone had delivered mobile telephony bliss – this is how a phone should work.
Now the same group would discover that the same training they had voluntarily undergone to understand the iPhone and make it a valuable and enjoyable part of their daily living was transferable to the iPad.
In Knowledge Management, one of the key elements, perhaps a Holy Grail, is knowledge transfer: how those with vast experience in complex systems which may take decades to accrue, can transfer this unspoken knowledge to those new to the organisation, lest it be lost when they leave or are fired.
(To illustrate this concept, I often invoke the sad story of Ansett Airlines, to whom I consulted, being sold to Air New Zealand in a fish-swallows-whale story. Management of its Boeing 767 fleet, one of the world’s oldest at the time, was handled by staff in New Zealand while the aircraft were serviced in Australia. Knowledgeable staff who knew these aircraft like they were their own children with their own personalities were let go, as if the aircraft were just hunks of metal. Ultimately, because of oversights, essential Boeing-driven examination for potential cracks in vital engine areas were not performed, and the fleet was grounded not once, but twice. It spelt the ultimate demise of the airline after seven decades of operation, not helped by the entry of brash new airlines like VirginBlue, and a federal government prepared for the airline to fail.)
Whenever you hear someone dissing the iPad as an overgrown iPod Touch, congratulate them, not mock them, for getting what Apple’s on about. They have given us a very practical example of knowledge transfer, something we take for granted whenever we walk to a door and see the “push” or “pull” label to know what to do, without needing further knowledge in physics or mechanical engineering.
With the iPad, school’s out when it comes to having to learn how to operate a computer. The funny thing is, watch what happens when you give a three year old, and his or her great grandfather an iPhone without instruction what to do to make things happen. That same intuitive but unspoken “I think I can understand this device just by toying with it using my fingers” will occur.
While the 3 year old will yelp with delight when they discover the iPad’s games, the 80 year old will quietly say, “I get it. This is what computing’s about.”