As photographers it sometimes falls on our shoulders to stand in front of a group and show our work in some way or to make a presentation about photography. And a lot of us do not have that experience and as a result we do it … badly.
Renee Byer, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2007 and is pictured above, gave the Bunn Lecture in Photography at Bradley last year and she was great. The concept to a good presentation is two-fold. First, you must present what you’re talking about with passion and a thorough knowledge of the subject and/or images. You have to know it cold and really, really believe it. Secondly, you should have a stunning presentation. Everything from a simple slideshow of images to a complex presentation on a complex topic should just pop. Renee had that. And you need to have that. Every time.
I have sat through more “Death by Powerpoint” presentations than any one person should. I think most people don’t struggle too much on the passion/knowledge front. I think that part is easier – especially if you practice your presentation a few times before you give it. But a lot of people really suffer on the second part. I mean they really, really suffer. And it can get worse from there if they don’t practice (thereby appearing out of sync with their presentation) or if they have issues with stage fright (high school speech class flashbacks anyone?). And what’s worse is that all three of these things can conspire and build to really kick you in the butt.
I’m working up a separate series of posts on slideshows and video presentations (ala the Ami Vitale video from yesterday). What I want to focus on with this post is the notion of a good presentation, particularly if you’re mixing words with images. And more importantly how to break away from that presentation so that it supports you and your message and so you can make a connection with your audience.
And I can do that in three little segments named Seth, Garr, and Ted.
- Seth Godin is a wise and sage marketing consultant. His blog dispenses so much wisdom on the topic of presentations that he alone could probably save thousands of Powerpoint-induced deaths a year. The previous link will take you to a whole index of good blog entries on the topic of improving your presentations, but I point you to these two on Nine Steps to Powerpoint Magic and Really Bad Powerpoint to sharpen you up.
- Garr Reynolds runs the website Presentation Zen. And it’s just what it sounds like. Garr wants you to be better at presenting and he backs it up with insightful posts like 11 Ways to Use Images Poorly in Slides. He even likes Kelby and McNally. Go ahead and get lost over there.
- Ted. Ted doesn’t have a last name because Ted isn’t a person. I was having dinner with my buddy Bill last night and I mentioned Ted and he was all like Ted?!?!?! Ted Who?!?!?! (I kid Bill, I kid). From their website, “TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Hence TED (not Ted). The annual conferences … bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). Their website than hosts the best talks and performances for free.” Be sure to check out National Geographic’s David Griffin’s talk on How Photography Connects Us or watch James Nachtwey’s moving images sucker-punch you. I’m not kidding when I say that some of these I’ve seen send chills up the spine. They are that good. Some of the best stuff the Internet has to offer. Period.
So – checking these three out can get you on the road to better presentations. And at the very least maybe you won’t just read your slides to me. Please? Thanks.