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As with many (most?) tech-nerds, I’ve always been enthralled with a Steve Jobs keynote presentation. They were always so… simple, elegant yet informative. This was in contrast with many of the “wall o’ bullet point” slides common in many tech presentations, something that I’ve been guilty of in the past.
My eyes were opened when I read this Presentation Zen blog post in 2005, which was followed up by another post. At the time I was preparing a presentation for the 2005 Noise-Con in Minneapolis. Upon reading those articles I scrapped my presentation and rebuilt it from the ground up to emphasize the visuals and de-emphasize the bullet points. I was partially successful - lots of visuals that allowed me to tell a story, but still too many bullet points.
Presentation Zen followed up the Jobs articles with two more that compared and contrasted the presentation style of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates which gave me more to think about. The next opportunity I had to make a presentation was the 2006 Internoise conference where I gave my paper on the Springfield noise ordinance.
My goal was to improve on the conversational nature of the presentation - to make it “magical” if you will. My presentation was graphics and visuals, with a total of 6 bullet points. Unfortunately I can’t make the presentation available on my site; the presentation includes some photos taken by a friend with the promise that the photos would only be shown at the conference. However this presentation was witnessed by author Garret Keizer who described it thusly in his book The The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise:
And he was a minority of one, a singleton indeed, in being the only presenter who dared to appear without a “PowerPoint presentation.” Instead, as befitting someone talking about his hometown, he showed us slides of the city as he spoke.
Mission accomplished. Thanks Steve. You will be missed.