Tuesday, November 14, 2006

MIGS dinner and the presentation pow-wow

In my last post, I went on about the prep for my MIGs presentation and the prep that went into it. I worked on it up until 3pm the day before, and then took a break to attend a couple presentations, and then go to dinner.

As I mentioned here, the presentations were both great. But one thing that struck me (esp with Hecker/Gingold's) was that they too had moved to this super-minimalist-ppt presentation style.

At the end of the day, I bumped into Jane, who was on her way out to dinner with Chris Hecker, and they invited me along. By the time tradeshow-dinner-katamari rolled through the post-show cocktail reception and arrived at the restaurant in vieux montreal, it was Jane, Chris, Clint (who's presentation I mentioned in the last post), Jade Raymond and a friend of hers (forgot name. Bad Kim!).

At one point, Chris, Clint and I got onto a deep geek-rant about powerpoint, presentation style, prep methods and such.

- Chris made the point that "everyone is moving to the 'Will Wright method'". Which was the name he gave to the minimalist, image-heavy style.
- Clint pointed out that others had popularized before Will (though now I forget who he referenced).
- I was surprised at how close the prep method I came up with (see last post) mapped to the method that Clint used. Chris' was different given that it was a two-person talk.
- Chris pointed out that doing a two-person talk - effectively - is even more difficult. You'd think it's half the work, but the choreography is harder, plus it's hard to agree on what you want to say. If you aren't passionate about what you are saying, your talk will be crap, and it's hard to reach a point of agreement that isn't a compromise of the original idea. This is worth pondering some.
- We talked about the value of 'circling back' to the same point/slide (see the identity 2.0 talk), as an effective technique, and I pointed out that good standup comedy routines often do this.
- We talked about confusion as a presenter when you 'circle back' to a recurring slide, and then maybe forget where you are (which instance of that slide). I proposed that the 'presenter mode' in Powerpoint, which Clint didn't know about, could solve this problem.
- Chris pointed out that this mode in PPT, while a good idea, was in impementation, "ass", but then, he says that about a lot of software.

There was also some talk about the source material for presentations, for ideas. (I won't give away Clint's inspiration and materials for his GDC'07 talk, but it sounds awesome. I'll definitely attend). I guess it's true for many things in life, but it's interesting how the smallest things (single images, hallway conversations, etc, can plant the seed of these ideas that grow into a whole talk.

Anyhow, that's all that was related to presentations adn presenting. There was also lots of talk about how Chris has never shipped a game (pre-emptive strikes on his part, mostly), of life in Montreal, and about how A2M has a very, very bad name as it will shock customers. :-)


Anonymous said...

I have thought about using the "Will Wright" approach in the past, but one BIG issue stopped me: the presentation is only useful for the audience, and useless for anything else. Powerpoints are a poor substitute for attending a lecture, but they are much better than nothing at all.

While the show and energy increase thanks to this style is undeniable, we all stand to lose something if more lecturers move in this direction. Audio and especially video proceedings help alleviate some, but they are rarely available, often incomplete, and they still don't allow the same level of navigation.

In the end, my decision was to add as much "flash" and show value as possible, as long as it doesn't reduce the value of the presentation material in itself.

KimPallister said...

I've felt that way in the past, but long ago decided that you are doing a disservice to the audience. Even if you use text, if you use enough that it works stand-alone, it probably isn't a good presentation for having too much text.

One solution is to use speakernotes. Another is to use something like Powerpoint presenter (which lets you embed an audio recording into a 'showable' version of the presentation). Another solution is to do the full transcript as I described and then just attach it as a word doc or HTML, with indicators to point out the appropriate slde.