The making of Guernica

“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction” – Pablo Picasso

Last week I visited the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, renowned as the home of Picasso’s Guernica. The famous mural-sized, black-and-white painting was created in 1937 after the devastating bombing on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, and is considered one of the most powerful visual political statements ever made by an artists.

The painting was impressive indeed. Its visual message overwhelming. Undoubtedly the work of a genius.

Guernica

After intensively and extensively admiring the masterpiece, a series of small black-and-white photographs caught my attention. Posted on the wall opposite the canvas, they depict the making of Guernica. The snapshots were taken by Dora Maar, Picasso’s muse in those days, and show the consecutive development stages of the artwork.

Thanks to these historical pictures I could witness how some key components of the composition, like the bull, the horse, and the (light bulb) sun, were created, destructed and recreated by the Spanish painter.

While observing the metamorphosis of Guernica, I had to think of Dale Carnegie’s quote about delivering a presentation:

“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.”

Just like Picasso’s masterpiece evolved during its inception, conception and creation, your presentation’s messaging, storytelling, and visualization may change over time – although an act of destruction is seldom required.

More reading:

Don’t leave home without a clicker

When I go on a business trip, I always carry one on me. It doesn’t occupy much space in my suitcase, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.  That’s why I never leave home without my clicker!

When giving a business presentation, a handheld remote slide advancer gives you to the freedom to walk around on stage. It provides you full control over your own slide show. That’s particularly useful when your visuals contain overlay animations. And you’ll never have to say “next slide please…” again.

Actually, the one that I use is not very high-tech. It has got only two buttons: one to move forward and one to return to previous slide. I don’t need  more ‒ and it keeps the risk of clicking the wrong knob to an absolute minimum. I also never use the laser pointer function, as I have seen its dancing red (or green) spot on the screen too often betray a nervous speaker.

clicker

Also a wearable wireless microphone may offer extra degrees of freedom to a presenter. I was recently speaking at an event, and surprisingly the only one out of 25+ speakers who requested for and put on such a device.

Unfortunately it is not always obvious to bring your own headset or clip-on mike and connect it to a venue’s audio installation. That’s the main reason why I haven’t included one in my speaker packing list yet.

El meu circ a Barcelona

So, I am once again at the Mobile World Congress. A huge technology circus. A high mass of telecom and information technology industries. And an event not to miss if you want to hear and see the latest and greatest on mobile networks, wireless devices, and software applications. In 2014 the event attracted more than 85,000 attendees, and more than 1,800 exhibitors, utilizing 98,000 net square meters of exhibition and business meeting space.

mwc15

A year ago, I wrote about the many storytellers, storydoers and storymakers that convene in Barcelona each year to evangelize and promote their companies, products and services. In today’s short blog post (I have other things to do this week than writing long epistels…) I will talk about my visit to some of the MWC booths, and about what the demonstrators and exhibitors had to tell. Or rather, how they told their stories to me. And I’m afraid that I can be bold and short about this. Still too much technobabble… Too many acronyms… Too many product details… Too many marketers pushing their stuff instead of listening to their customers.

For those who remember the 7 sins of the speaker, well, I am afraid have seen and heard all of them over here. Demo after demo. Time after time. And also the demo devil seems to have made the trip to Spain.

But on the other hand, I also felt privileged to discover some really exciting technology innovations, touch some brand new mobile devices and experience some mind-blowing applications. And I had the opportunity to meet quite a few interesting customers too.

It’s been a busy and hectic week for me at the Fira. Fortunately the Mobile World Congress circus comes only once a year to Barcelona. But it’s worth the long days and the sore feet. As a visitor, a speaker or a demonstrator.

Plan and deliver ― your preparation

“World class presentations require time and focus” ― Nancy Duarte

Rome wasn’t built in one day. Neither will you be able to create a good presentation in a few hours. Crafting a presentation ― yes, even a business or technical one ― is a creative process. A process that takes more than a PC with PowerPoint (or Keynote, or Prezi, or …) installed on it.

colored_pencils_chevre

As I wrote in my previous post, it all starts with finding your pitch: thinking about the story you want to tell, the messages you want to convey, and the results you want to obtain. So, don’t start creating a single slide before you have figured out WHAT you want to tell to WHOM, and HOW you’re are actually going to deliver it. Only then comes the ‘packaging’ of your content.

  • Always start with the end in mind. Take a blank sheet of paper and write down (no more than) three results you want to obtain from your presentation. What impressions do you want the people in the room to take home? What do you want them to remember about your product or service? What action do you want them to take after the meeting?
  • Then inventorize your assets: what facts and figures, anecdotes, trivia, case studies, experience, demos or prototypes, etc. do you have on hand that may help you achieve these objectives?
  • Based upon the outcome of the questions above, you may select the most suitable medium for delivering your content, e.g. a traditional slide presentation, a naked speech, maybe supported by video testimonials or — why not — a live demonstration. Note that your choice may also be influenced by the size and composition of your audience, the layout of the room, or the technical facilities you have on hand.
  • Make sure your talk has a begin, a middle and an end. Consider structuring it the AIDA way. As the first seconds of your performance are crucial for grabbing your audience’s attention, choose a catchy title and craft a powerful opening slide.
  • Think visual. Use images to communicate, not decorate. Translate concepts to visual metaphors. Look for compelling ways to conceptualize facts, processes and data. You won’t need artistic drawing skills; a bit of analytical sense and a good portion of creativity will certainly do.
  • Analyze. Surprise. Focus. Simplify. Cut the crap and don’t feed the chameleons. Keep your presentation short and sweet. And when you prepare slides, keep them clear, clean and consistent.
  • Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your presentation as often as needed. In front of your mirror, your family or your colleagues. Or use a video recorder to tape your performance.
  • But most of all, reserve ample time for your preparation. The time you invest in realizing, refining and rehearsing your presentation should be proportional to the importance of your talk, and reverse proportional to the time you will be given to present.

Next week, part 3 of the 3 P’s trilogy: about delivering your presentation. In, the mean time here’s more material to digest:

The 3 p’s of presenting

During the first weeks of their education, masses of freshman marketing students still get confronted with Jerome McCarthy’s 4P model. A tool created more than 50 years ago, in an age where customers were labeled “buyer” or “consumer”. And though the 4 P’s still may provide a fair means for defining a traditional marketing mix, I dispute that “putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time” is the most important course that 21st century students should get on the menu.

In the era of content, communication, conversation and customer experience (coincidently all starting with a C,) a marketer’s capability to create a decent message house, translate it into a captivating story, and use it to engage with a specific audience is probably more essential than mastering the 4 P’s.

So it was no surprise to me that (as already mentioned in an earlier article on this blog) the French ManpowerGroup identified the storyteller as one of the emerging job profiles for the future: “a craftsman of engagement, the storyteller gives meaning to the company’s engagement and communicates with internal and external stakeholders through dialog and social media.”

Being able to create and deliver a compelling business presentation is certainly one of the basic competencies a storyteller needs. As Richard Branson once said in an Entrepreneur magazine Q&A:

“Good speakers aren’t just talented or lucky – they work hard.”

This is why I am dedicating this week’s post (as well as the three next ones) to mastering the 3 P’s of presenting: your Pitch, your Preparation and your Presentation.

3Ps

The setting is simple: when you want to deliver specific content to a specific audience via a specific medium, you will need to connect the corner points of the triangle in the picture above.

  1. First of all you will need to define your Pitch. The message(s) you want your audience to remember. How you will grab their attention and capture their interest. The story you want to tell them. This is where techniques like power mapping, message house building and storyboarding will come in.
  2. Take ample time for your Preparation. Choose the most effective medium (e.g. PowerPoint show, Prezi, naked speech, video testimonials, …) for getting your story across and adapt your content to it. This is where your right brain hemisphere comes to the fore. When creativity, design and empathy turn out to be your most valuable attributes.
  3. And finally, the moment will come when you are scheduled to face your audience and deliver your Presentation. Be prepared. Use all possible means of visual, verbal and non-verbal communication to persuade your listeners with your value proposition and to call them to action.

The attentive reader may have noticed that there’s something more in the center of the picture: YOU. Because, as  KPCB’s Bing Gordon rightly observes,

“The first and most important element of your presentation is not a slide: it’s you.”

Now, mark your agenda! In my next 3 posts, I will further elaborate on the 3 P’s and give some tips, tricks and tools for better pitching (December 4), preparing (December 11) and presenting (December 18) your content.