I did not have sexual relations with that woman

I don’t know about you, but I always get nervous when I hear this:
I want you to know…
To tell you the truth…
Let me be perfectly clear…
As far as I know…
I want to be perfectly honest…

Language experts have textbook names for these guys—”performatives”. Harmless constructions, even polite, right? Unfortunately they may often signal that bad news, or even some dishonesty on the part of the speaker, will follow. 

James W. Pennebaker, Professor and Chair of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, has done an in-depth study of the linguistics of deceit as well as that of truth. When people tell the truth, they usually use I-words at high rates. The one big exception is the performative case, such as when people start a sentence with something like “I want you to know that…” or “Let me be perfectly clear…” Anything that follows can’t be judged as false or truthful. Performatives are a delightful way to deceive while technically telling the truth.

Social media make things even more complicated, because they combine the definiteness of print with the casualness of online communication. Now more than ever before, we need clear positions, frank feedback, honest opinions. Politeness vs. deception, it’s a thin line online.

Read more on presentations.

The best slide I ever made

This slide is the result of many years’ studying presentation design. It summarizes everything we know of oral communication, visual information and the cognitive capabilities of the human brain. It can be applied to all types of presentations: strategic, scientific, commemorative, apologetic, M&S, motivational, etc. 

Substitute just one slide in your presentation for my slide and you will notice a remarkable improvement in the audience’s attention level. Change two slides and you will significantly boost the effectiveness and impact of your message. Swap three or more slides and you will have the conference room hanging on your lips. Replace all the slides with this one  and they will call you a presentation guru.

Here it is, free for you to view, to share and especially to use. 

best slide

Read more on slides and presentations here.


Special thanks: Edward Rice/Speechwriteradventures.com

Become a star presenter: lessons from 5 great film directors

Part 3. Darren Aronofsky: "The biggest crime is to bore an audience.“

From time to time we all experience it: the illusion we have a license to bore. That is when we feel that this time, just this time, we are allowed to be uninteresting, unexceptional, unremarkable.

"I am going to talk about financial results, for God’s sake.”
“Scientists expect data, not entertainment.”
“That’s just an internal meeting, all close colleagues you know.”
“That’s what my boss/client/company expects of me.”
“I didn’t have the time to prepare.”

All presentations have only one purpose and that is to move us, your audience, so that we will remember you and do something with what you just told us. You never ‘have to give a presentation’, you are given an opportunity to connect with us. So be interesting, be exceptional, be remarkable and change our world, no matter how small this change may be.

Read more on film directors.

Photo credit Geirix © 2013 


For those us out there that seek to make a change in the world

We can.
We can make a difference.
We can stand up to insurmountable forces.
We can put up with far more than we think we can.
Our lever is far longer than we imagine it is, if we choose to use it.

If we don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, we can change the world.

Fore more inspiration on this blog, read here.

Adapted from Seth Godin


A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. 

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

Read more about inspiration.

Photo credit Tony Hall@2009

Original post: facebook.com/sungazing1/posts/180276155460555

Become a star presenter: lessons from 5 great film directors

Part 2. Akira Kurosawa: “If it is not interesting, it simply isn’t interesting.”

Preparing to pitch a Venture Capital? An interview for your dream job? Or simply trying to select the best pics for the holiday photo album? Removing all unnecessary elements may well be the most important step to creating a memorable story. Read what legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa has to say about it. 

“No matter how much work the director, the assistant director, the cameraman or the lightning technicians put into a film, the audience never knows. What is necessary is to show them something that is complete and has no excess. When you are shooting, of course, you film only what you believe is necessary. But very often you realize only after having shot it that you didn’t need it after all. You don’t need what you don’t need.

Yet human nature wants to place value on things in direct proportion to the amount of labor that went into making them. In film editing, this natural inclination is the most dangerous of all attitudes.

The most important requirement for editing is objectivity. No matter how much difficulty you had in obtaining a particular shot, the audience will never know. If it is not interesting, it simply isn’t interesting. You may have been full of enthusiasm during the filming of a particular shot, but if that enthusiasm doesn’t show on the screen, you must be objective enough to cut it.”

Read more on great film directors. 

Quotes taken from Kurosawa, Akira. Something Like an Autobiography. Translated by Audie E. Bock, 1983.

Be authentic, not just polished. 

The power of images lies in their ability to tell stories and evoke emotions. We want emotions because without them there cannot be an action or change in behavior. Therefore, the kind of image we choose for our story is critical to the success of our presentation. 

When it comes to visuals, authenticity is one of the most important aspects to take into consideration. Gone are the days of classic corporate imagery, the smiling businessman in jacket and tie, the perfect-looking model, the rosy baby. It is not just about how polished an image is, it needs to feel real, credible, authentic, something our audiences can relate to.

A clear example of this is the recent trend towards more realistic women in advertising. Brands are increasingly moving away from polished idealizations of the feminine in favor of more authentic images of real women. 

Getty Images’ Pam Grossman has some very interesting and beautiful insights to share on authenticity.

Read more on images.

Become a star presenter: lessons from 5 great film directors

Part 1. Quentin Tarantino: “When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, no, I went to films.” 

There are many ways to learn the art of presenting. Most of these involve reading books, taking courses or hiring coaches, which of course are all very useful options. But if you ask me, nothing compares to the real thing. Becoming a great presenter entails watching and studying great presentations, loads of them.

Luckily for us, we live in a time when the most brilliant minds and the most inspiring speakers on earth are just one mouse click away. God bless YouTube for bringing us their faces, their voices and their stories. We can watch them and learn their art any time we want and as often as we like, without even leaving the office. We can study how they walk on stage, open and close their speech, use visuals and build their story. From Martin Luther King to Steve Jobs to Ken Robinson, they are all out there waiting for us, a source of endless inspiration waiting to be tapped. 

Honestly, can you think of a better presentation school?

Read more on great film directors

What type of communications expert are you?

Whether they like it or not, communications specialists are no longer the only ones who can make radical contributions to the business and the world. True, formal training, higher degrees and decades of field experience are still very much appreciated and open many doors. However, our world is changing fast, particularly since social media and mobile devices have enabled everybody to broadcast their message to the universe.

New types of communications experts have emerged that are able to connect with our emotions in ways that trained specialists cannot dream of. Some of them are experts in other fields, and use their expertise and knowledge to create messages that resonate with the audience by helping understand things. One example: Hans Rosling and his beautiful stats. Tip: make sure you don’t miss the grand finale. 

Others became great communicators because they found a mission that requires them to speak up and change the world. Countless times I have watched Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on how schools kill creativity and I still get touched by the story of Gillian. 

Some have faced difficult situations, survived  terrible ordeals or emerged from suffering, and  want to share their experience with us. Their message has  a strength that only a life-changing experience can generate, and brings us to tears by showing what we are capable of if we just set our mind to it. Just listen to Nicholas James Vujicic’s incredible story, no further comment needed. 

Real communication experts do not need to show an impressive CV. What they show us is a world we never knew existed.

What children can teach us about presentations

When it comes to storytelling, children are the undisputed experts. Children simply love stories and instinctively understand what makes a good story. You’d be surprised how much they can teach you about the subject if you just asked them.

The other day, I took my eight-year-old daughter to the bookstore to buy her a present. I found a new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which attracted my attention with its many gorgeous illustrations. I showed her the book, only to find out she was not impressed. I thought it was a really beautiful book, didn’t she like the illustrations? “Dad, that’s exactly the problem” she said, sounding like she was explaining the obvious. “With all those nice drawings, I won’t be able to concentrate on you when you read the story.”

I’ll try to remember that next time I am preparing my slides for a presentation.

BTW: Denslow’s (1856-1919) original illustrations of the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are wonderful, indeed.