How to give the most amazing TED talk

If you know anything about me, you know my dream is to give a TED talk at some point in my life. So when I saw the tedPAD, and this video, it was love at first sight. With all the data available on TED talks, the statistics show everything from topics, to what color to use for creating the best presentation. They even help you figure out what to wear, so it looks like I may need to get some thick-rimmed eyeglasses and grow my hair long.

The Great American Healthcare Debate Depicted in Digital Media

Whatever your perspective on the great American healthcare debate, it’s undeniable that the discussion has spawned some interesting presentations of people’s various viewpoints. The two that stood out to me were “Healthcare Napkins All” by Dan Roam and C. Anthony Jones and this animated video I found on YouTube called, “Health Care Reform Thought Bubble.” While one was SlideShare’s first prize in The Best Presentation 2009 contest, the other is just one person’s perspective explained on the issue using motion design from Thought Bubble. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in either of the pieces, but I think it’s awesome that digital media has given us the platform to create and share visual “explanations” like these.

No doubt healthcare (and its possible reform) is an incendiary topic. After all, we’re not just talking about an intangible, abstract policy, we’re talking about people’s health and their ability to access medical care. It’s a touchy subject (if you were in doubt, just read some of the comments on ReadWriteWeb’s post about the presentation created by Roam and Jones). However, when we have visual aids such as these two videos—and many others—at our disposal, I think we have an opportunity to inform ourselves and at least understand the basics of very complex issues (reminds me of my post about Jeff Jarvis’ “Credit Crisis” video).

Healthcare Napkins All

What do you think of the way these two groups of people expressed their opinions about healthcare? What could they have done better? Is anything lost by creating presentations and videos like these?

How to stop death by PowerPoint

Nobody likes boring presentations. Even worse, boring presentations don’t provide any value to viewers. If you’re giving a talk or a presentation, don’t bore your audience! Just follow some advice from Garr Reynolds and his Presentation Zen method.

Realize that your presentation is an opportunity to tell a story and impart some knowledge. Don’t make people do the work of trying to figure out the purpose of your presentation. Tell them what it is.

Don’t give it all away. This is perhaps the most important piece of advice: don’t put your entire presentation, word for word, on the PowerPoint slide. Pick out the main points and then do the hard work yourself and speak semi-extemporaneously (you’ll need to memorize a little). You can’t ask the audience to get down in the trenches with you—they want a succinct presentation with key points illustrated on the screen in front of them, so give them that.

Bring some design to your presentations. No, you don’t have to be a graphics guru, but try to stay away from using the cartoonish images that came with your laptop. That’s a sin. Try iStockphoto, which usually has some good options that can add visual interest to your presentation. And while this does make more time, it’s better than polluting your screen with massive quantities of text. People want to be enlightened, not overwhelmed.

Make transitions seamless. You don’t want to look like you’re doing a lot of work to make your presentation or you’ll make the audience tired, too. One of the easiest ways to make flawless transitions in your presentations is by purchasing an Apple Remote if you’ve got an Apple laptop, or a mini slide changer if you’ve got a PC. Seems like a no-brainer, but I see a lot of presentations where people forget to do this and fumble around as they move through the presentation.

For more advice, watch the Presentation Zen video, part of the Google Talk series, below.

Resource, tips and tricks

How many words is a picture worth?

I love data visualization and fun ways of communicating complex information. I found this video on Knowledge Fulcrum blog, but after a little more investigation, discovered that the inspiration for it was a music video for the band Royksopp’s track, “Remind Me.” The version shown on Knowledge Fulcrum was created by a talented motion designer named Tomas Nilsson who, at the time he created the video, had only been using After Effects for a year. He cites the Royksopp video as inspiration for his Little Red Riding Hood animation (featured on Knowledge Fulcrum). You can view both videos below. Regardless of which version you prefer, both videos tell a story with pictures and a ton of data. Reading this would take forever if you even paid attention past the first few sentences. The music is a nice addition.