Wiki Stage – The Video Education Revolution

March 19, 2013

In the beginning, there was Death By PowerPoint. And then there was TED, a series of conferences that managed to be entertaining and enjoyable, and showed the world that presentations can be more effective when they are short, well-prepared and intentionally interesting.

escp paris_whiteNow there is Wiki Stage, a new non-profit initiative to promote education through events and online videos, and I’m extremely honoured to be speaking at the very first Wiki Stage event, at ESCP Europe in Paris on March 30th 2013, and proud that Ideas on Stage is partnering with Wiki Stage to ensure that all the talks are top-quality, just as we have with so many TEDx events in the last three years.

Rather than explain what I think Wiki Stage is, here’s an interview I did with Johannes Bittel, founder and president of Wiki Stage, so you can hear it directly from him.

So Johannes, what is Wiki Stage?

Events and Videos – that’s what we do. We want people to have a fantastic time while learning something! By mixing experts with artists on stage and combining this with plenty of networking opportunities, we want to create a fun learning environment around a Wiki Stage. But the best way to find out is to actually experience it! We are organising the first of these events very soon, on March 30 at ESCP Europe around Internet, Jazz, Economy, Theatre…

But a great show with 6 or 12-minute talks and performances is only part of the story. The vision behind this event on March 30 is that you and me can create a new Wiki Project, a video encyclopedia, that can bring knowledge on stage and let people learn through videos.

How did you come up with the idea?

I often asked myself “Why does Wikipedia not exist in video?” Video is so powerful for delivering a message and often it would be much easier to watch a video than to read a text. Popular websites, such as YouTube, prove that the technology is already there. This could help so many people, but we don’t yet have a quality video library online.

We are a bunch of energetic volunteers, who believe that this would be a better world if knowledge was more accessible. If experts would present their insights on a stage with energy and passion, their message could reach and impact so many people. This is true especially for those among us to whom the simple act of reading a book or encyclopaedia article is not intuitive, because they may not have had the privilege of the education they deserve. This is why our dream is to bring Wikipedia on stage! If many volunteers bring remarkable people on a Wiki Stage, film them and share this knowledge in video online, then we could learn and be impacted by our experts in way more profound ways than we can with written text today.

How is Wiki Stage different from TED?

Once a year, the TED event in California gathers a group of very influential people to spread ideas on Technology, Entertainment and Design. That is very different from our vision for Wiki Stage – we want to create a stage for you! Instead of spreading ideas from a few to many, with Wiki Stage, we believe that many should share with many, and we aim to have Wiki Talks in many languages, and not just have most talks in English. You, or the experts and artists you know, have something to bring to the world – and that is why we offer the Wiki Stage to you as organiser, speaker or as a guest in the audience who wants to enjoy a great show! It is very important to us to keep the prices for Wiki Stage events at an accessible level and to make it easy for people to get a license.

You’re still a big TED fan though, right?

Yes, I’ve been watching the talks for many years now and whenever I can, I attend TED or TEDx events. Just a few weeks ago, I was at one of their events in California. I love what they do.

What is your vision for Wiki Stage?

948b14ac3c32d42df857d535cab50984 “All the world’s a stage” is a Shakespeare quote that I love. Imagine how much fun it would be if many people in universities, libraries, museums, theatres or other institutions that are dedicated to learning, art and culture would set up their own Wiki Stage. There are so many remarkable people around us and we would give them the attention they deserve to share their experiences with us and through video with everybody over the internet – I believe this could change the world.

This is a non-profit organisation. Where does the money come from?

If a public institution or a for-profit company decided that they wanted to create a video encyclopaedia, the costs for that could easily amount to millions of euros. Whoever takes on this challenge would need to pay experts, studios, cameras, editors, etc., etc. – which means that it would not be financially viable to provide the videos online for free. If, however, volunteers decide to do it not for profit, then it can work. Each event organiser covers his costs thanks to sponsors and ticket sales and everybody involved is working together in a Wiki Spirit of collaboration towards creating a video library of knowledge. The best way for you to support this project is to buy your ticket to a Wiki Stage event. And why wait? There’s your chance to experience a great show and an unforgettable afternoon on March 30 at ESCP Europe in Paris!

Apart from Wiki Stage ESCP, are there other events planned?

We are a very young project, born just a couple of months ago – yet, I am thrilled to see that students at ESSEC, Centrale, Cité Universitaire and Sorbonne are already planning to organise their own Wiki Stage events. It’s easy for people to make their own event and people are starting to contact us about this – it’s exciting! Last week I received an email from somebody in Casablanca… ;)

Get your ticket for the Wiki Stage world premiere on March 30 at WikiStage.org

Connect with Wiki Stage:

facebook.com/WikiStage

twitter.com/WikiStage

youtube.com/WikiStage

Wiki Stage ESCP Poster JPG


Presentation 2.0 – The New Art of Business Presenting

December 3, 2012

Presentation 2.0 Logo v1Most presentations suck. Ask most people to close their eyes and imagine themselves in the audience for a presentation, and they will break into a cold sweat. Presentation should rhyme with communication, inspiration and fascination – but all too often, it simply rhymes with boredom.

This means two important things for presenters. Firstly, if an audience is bored, they’re not interested, they’re not listening, and they’re not going to do what you want them to do. Secondly, if most presentations suck so badly, those presenters who make an effort can rise above the crowd, communicate better, and spread their ideas effectively.

So upgrade to Presentation 2.0, and make your presentations interesting, effective, and memorable. Here’s how – four disciplines which others ignore or suck at: preparation, storytelling, visual design, and delivery.

1. Preparation

Any great edifice needs a strong foundation. For a presentation, that foundation is the preparation. This is where you analyze your audience and their needs, set clear and concrete objectives, and choose a few key messages to help you achieve those objectives.

The audience might remember how you make them feel, they may remember some of what they see, but they will certainly forget most of what you say. They might recall three things. Don’t leave it to chance and hope they remember the right things – choose the three key messages you want them to remember.

Slide Fail to Prepare.027

2. Storytelling

Storytelling is the art of structuring your presentation to communicate messages effectively and interestingly; and using narrative techniques and devices to make them memorable.

When Steve Jobs pulled a Macbook Air out of an envelope, that was storytelling. It was a technique designed to communicate a key message – “The world’s thinnest notebook” – and make it stick.

I once sold a print services contract to a major Brazilian customer, but first I had to convince them they had a problem. So I demonstrated that each year, their printed pages laid end-to-end would stretch from the source of the Amazon all the way to the Atlantic (mouths gaped open) – and then back again (jaws hit floor). That’s storytelling.

If you think hard enough, you can find a way to make anything interesting and memorable.

3. Visual Design

Ever suffered “Death By PowerPoint”? Most businesspeople face it every day, so they dread the moment when someone asks to switch on the projector.

Most slides obstruct communication. They assume the audience can read and listen simultaneously, that bullet points are memorable, and that the audience doesn’t mind the presenter using slides as speaker notes. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. A deck of slides can assist communication and make your key messages memorable. It’s just a question of good design.

A typical useless slideument

4. Delivery

A great presenter can make anything fascinating. It’s about voice, speed, gestures, comfort, eye contact, movement, humor, charisma, and above all, preparation and rehearsal.

You can learn this. We’re not born orators. As Emerson said, “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”

Slide Emerson Bad Speakers.003

Working hard at each of these four disciplines will make your presentations interesting, effective, and memorable. It’ll help you stand out from the crowd. If your audience sees four boring and forgettable 1.0 presentations, and one effective and memorable Presentation 2.0, it’s clear which presenter has the advantage. Make sure it’s you.

This article was first published in SOLD Magazine, the leading worldwide monthly for sales professionals, as part of Phil’s regular Presentation 2.0 column.


Tuesday Nov 6th 2012: Tweet-up with Garr Reynolds

November 4, 2012

As regular readers will be well aware, Garr Reynolds is in London this week for the Presentation Zen European Seminar 2012, and the world premiere of his new seminar, the Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass, both in association with Ideas on Stage. As in 2010 and 2011, we are extremely proud to work with Garr and bring his unique approach to presentations to a wider audience in Europe.

Garr also sees this as an opportunity to meet like-minded people, fans etc, so each year we also organize a ‘tweet-up’, which is simply a time and place where Garr’s fans can come along, buy a drink and chat with him. No tickets, no entry fee, nothing formal – just a meet-up, but organized via social media, hence the name ‘tweet-up’.

As Garr will be giving a short talk at the Apple Store in Regent Street, all about Keynote, from 6-7pm on Tuesday 6th November, we’re organizing the tweet-up just after that, and just around the corner. It will be at an eclectic place called Flat Planet, which serves drinks of course but which is famous for its excellent organic flatbreads. We’ve reserved the basement from 7.15pm to 9.00pm so please come along, get a drink and/or a flatbread, and come down to chat with Garr.

I’ll be there too of course, so if you are in the London area, come and join us, and by all means come and enjoy Garr’s talk at the Apple Store beforehand.

Address: Flat Planet, 39 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7JG (next to Liberty)

Time: Tuesday 6th November 2012, 7.15pm – 9.00pm

Here’s a link to a Google map showing the location together with the route from the Apple Store in Regent Street.


Not Just European – The 2012 Presentation Zen European Seminar

October 9, 2012

With a month to go before this year’s Presentation Zen European Seminar, we have a remarkable range of people coming to London to see Garr Reynolds and learn the new way of presenting from the master himself.

We have people coming from 16 countries (so far), including the USA, Canada and Japan, so it isn’t really a European Seminar any more! Once again, Garr is proving to be a star attraction, and I’m sure this year’s seminar is going to be as amazing as our Paris seminars in 2010 and 2011.

We’ve already sold out the Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass on November 8th, aimed mainly at those who’ve already attended the Presentation Zen Seminar, but we still have some places left for the main seminar on November 7th 2012, at the Hilton London Paddington – including some very cheap tickets for current students, with the reduction code PZSTUDENT.

So if you’d like to join us all in London, be fast because there aren’t many places left. Sign up now!


SOLD: a fantastic free magazine for sales professionals

August 14, 2012

I was recently contacted by the extremely friendly people at SOLD Labs, which publishes a fairly new online magazine called SOLD Magazine. They asked whether I’d be interested in writing a regular column. So of course my first course of action was to take a look at the magazine.

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve spent many years in sales and rarely found any published advice that was relevant to modern selling situations. B2B and B2C sales have changed immensely in the last 15 years, mostly thanks to the advances in information technology and the professionalisation of the procurement function in major companies. The old advice about how to sell a set of encyclopedias door-to-door just isn’t relevant any more.

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover an attractive magazine, full of useful and relevant advice for modern salespeople, from experienced columnists and featured experts like Shep Hyken. And it includes a section about presentation skills which is truly modern – none of the old advice about seven bullets per page or three minutes per slide.

I liked it so much that I agreed to contribute a monthly column, focusing on the Presentation 2.0 approach which we’ve developed at Ideas on Stage. My first column appeared in the July edition.

So to check out my article, and plenty of other fine articles about selling, negotiating and presenting, please click through to SOLD Magazine, and sign up free to subscribe to future issues.

I was pleasantly surprised, and I hope you will be too.

 


Announcing a great event in London – and it’s not the Olympics!

July 27, 2012

In 2010 and 2011, Ideas on Stage was proud to organize the Presentation Zen European Seminar in Paris. This was Garr Reynolds‘ only public seminar in Europe each year, and it brought people from ten European countries and as far afield as Seattle to learn directly from the world’s leading presentation expert.

In 2012, we’re taking the show on the road, and where better than London, the year’s most happening city? On November 7th, Garr will give his Presentation Zen European Seminar 2012, and since this sold out in 2010 and 2011, this year we’ve hired a bigger room with more space – but tickets are already selling quickly so get yours fast…

We’re also delighted to offer something new this year, especially for those who already attended Garr’s seminar in 2010 or 2011 (or the 2012 edition): the following day, on November 8th, will see the world premiere of Garr’s brand-new Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass. Effective slide design and powerful delivery are not enough: every great presentation is based on a mastery of the art of storytelling.

You can buy tickets for one or other seminar, or – until August 31st – you can get a combination ticket which gives you a huge 50% discount off the day 2 Storytelling Masterclass.

Don’t hesitate – reserve your place now, and if you get in quickly we’ve also negotiated some discount hotel rooms for you at the Hilton London Paddington, where both events will take place.

Direct link for more details: http://www.ideasonstage.com/presentation-zen-seminar-europe-2012-london/

I look forward to seeing you there!


When Does Communication Become Manipulation?

June 29, 2012

 

One of my executive students at HEC Paris asked me this week at what point communication becomes manipulation. After all, many of the rhetorical devices and storytelling techniques used in speechwriting and presentation design are similar to those used by a hypnotist, advertiser or salesperson.

This assumes there is a continuum, with communication at one end, and manipulation at the other end – and the more devices of influence you use, the more you move towards the ‘manipulation’ end of the scale.

I disagree. Purely and simply, all communication is an attempt to influence the audience, and if you’re going to do that, you might as well do so effectively. For me, the choice of how few or how many tools of influence you use is only part of the picture, and that scale is not between communication and manipulation, but between ineffective and effective communication.

An entrepreneur pitching an investor is aiming to influence that investor. Is that manipulation? The entrepreneur is doing everything possible to make an investor part with some cash, while at the beginning of the pitch the investor’s wallet is firmly closed.

A salesperson is always aiming to influence customers’ thoughts. Not only do they make you want their product or service where previously you perhaps didn’t want it (or didn’t realise you wanted it), but they also make you want their exact offering, and not those of your competitors. Is that manipulation? Or is it only manipulation if it is done well?

Let’s bring in a dictionary definition of manipulation. Dictionary.com defines ‘manipulate’ as:

to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people’s feelings.

My Chambers English Dictionary defines ‘manipulate’ as:

to turn to one’s own purpose or advantage

So the key factor is not the number of influence techniques used, but the intention of the speaker. Influencing the audience for your own selfish interests is considered manipulation, and has a negative connotation.

Political speeches are mostly about manipulation. Politicians try to influence voters, journalists and often each other, usually for their own selfish desires. (Sadly, selfless politicians like Vaclav Havel are the exception, not the rule.)

Advertising is all about manipulation, of course. Advertisers use every technique in the book to influence our thoughts, almost always for their own interests.

However, not everyone has selfish intentions. Take parents, for example.

Once, when I was a boy, I was flicking elastic bands around, and my father asked me to stop. He told me that once he had seen someone flick an elastic band which took someone’s eye out, i.e. it was very dangerous and I shouldn’t do it. The story was far stronger than just saying “stop doing that, son” – it certainly stopped me from flicking elastic bands, and I still remember the story over 30 years later. My father was using a storytelling technique to influence me – but for my benefit, so I would avoid a dangerous activity.

Now I am a father, and I use stories all the time to influence my children – for their benefit. This is far from new. Humans have been using stories for millennia to transfer knowledge and influence younger generations into avoiding the mistakes of their ancestors. The fable about the boy who cried ‘wolf’ is far more effective than just telling kids not to lie.

So while you can indeed have a continuum between ineffective and effective communication, there is another which is equally important: between altruism at one end of the scale – communicating purely for the audience’s benefit – and selfishness at the other end.

We can’t all be altruistic all the time. But we can at least aim for the middle of the scale: mutual interest.

Let’s take a look at what this means, in the Communication Influence Matrix above. In the bottom-left, you have ineffective and selfish communication – which is what poor salespeople dish out to long-suffering buyers. In the top-left, you have ineffective but altruistic communication, an example of which would be most teaching, which is for the benefit of the audience but far too often fails to be effective due to poor use of influencing techniques.

Then, in the bottom-right, you have effective and selfish communication – which could be good advertisements, or a powerful political speech for example. In the middle on the right, you have effective communication for mutual interest, which is what good salespeople will aim for. A good salesperson sincerely believes her customer will benefit from buying her product or service, and focuses on those benefits, while communicating effectively – and without forgetting her own company’s interests. Think of any Steve Jobs product launch.

And in the top-right, you have effective altruistic communication, and while I could have put public-service advertisements there, I’m proud to put my dad and his stories in that corner. One day, I hope my own children will put me there too.

Takeaways for presenters

As a presenter, work out how you can help your audience. If you are a salesperson, make your presentation not about your product or service, but about your customer’s problem and how it can be solved. You may succeed in making them want to buy your latest widget, but it will be in their interest to do so.

If you are an entrepreneur, talk about why your start-up offers a great opportunity for the investor. You’re not just going to them asking for money: you are offering them the chance to make a large pile of cash. You’re trying to influence them, of course, but in their interest as well as yours.

The trick is simply to ensure that their interests coincide with yours. If the customer is happy to solve their problem, that’s good for you because they’re using your widget to do so. If the investor is happy to invest because it’s a great opportunity, that’s also good for you because it means you have the cash to expand your company.

The audience’s own interest is the magical ingredient of any presentation. If you can always clearly act in the audience’s interest, you will never be accused of manipulation, no matter how many influence techniques you use. And if you can find a way to meet their needs while also meeting yours, then everybody wins.


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