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How I prepare for public speaking

After a cheer up from Henrik Kniberg today I post my checklist about how I go about preparing for a public talk (don’t like to call it presentation, because you are more likely to think PowerPoint then, which does not have to be the case ;)).

Before I start I try to jot down the answers to these questions:

  • How much time do I have?
  • Whats the venue like?
  • What time of day?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Whats their background?
  • What do they expect of me?
  • Why was I asked to speak?
  • What do I want them to do?
  • What visual medium is most appropriate for this particular situation and audience?
  • What is the fundamental purpose of my talk?
  • Whats the story here?
  • What is my absolute central point?
  • Why does it matter?

I use SUCCESs to craft my story.
Simple – the core message that is compact and profound. It functions more like a proverb than a sound bite.
Unexpected – get your audience’s attention and hold it by using surprise and mystery.
Concrete – make your idea understandable and memorable by breaking it down into terms that can be imagined by the senses.
Credible – help your audience believe and agree with your idea by using appropriate testimonies, statistics, and examples.
Emotional – get your audience to care about your idea by using specific examples of someone in need or by appealing the audience’s self-interest or sense of identity.
Stories – get people to take action by telling the right stories.

Now off to some meaty stuff:
Step 1. Brainstorm. Go analog.Be messy. See the story from all sides.
Step 2. Group and identify the core. One key idea. Organize into 3-4 main parts that support your central idea.
Step 3. Storyboard offline. Post-its. 3 slides per sheet sketches of your visuals with key points to every slide.
Step 4. Storyboard in slide sorter (if you need PowerPoint after all). Bumper slides divide the sections should be visually different.

Do some polishing touches:

  • Remove visual clutter
  • Short quotes
  • Empty space
  • Balance

Remember that good design is based on CRAP:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

And finally think about delivery.

  • Be completely present.
  • Connect with the audience. Appeal to both logical and emotional.
  • Bring energy and passion to your delivery. Dont hold back.
  • Leave them just a little hungry for more.

This post is based on following books:

  • Garr Reynolds, Presentation zen
  • Dan and Chip Heat, Made to Stick
  • Robin Williams, The Non-Designer’s Design Book

Booking process challenge

Every online company should always try to continuously improve their product. As head of development of norwegian classifieds website I’ve been looking at our competitors’ websites ( and comparing our booking solutions.

Booking solution of finn, tinde and zett

Booking solution of finn, tinde and zett

Booking system is a heart of these applications since this is where the money comes from (at least from the private persons). And being such an important part of the system the way booking solutions work today did not impress me much (on either of the three websites).

I have documented the booking process on all three websites just the way they looked 8th of April 2009 (I’ll publish own posts on this later for: finn, tinde and zett).

So here comes the challenge:
In 6 months from now 15th of October 2009 I’ll compare them again looking at how the process have been improved. Every detail count, I’ll evaluate the changes then, but I can announce the winner already now.

The winner is our users! And a nice side effect of improved booking solution is our revenue!

I hope that finn and tinde accept this challenge, and that we will see great improvements very soon. I also hope that when the improvements are made, we will steal the best ideas from each other and do a follow up release taking our booking solutions to the top of usability, ease of use and performance.

WP picasa plugin on dreamhost

I tried installing a WordPress plugin today that should show random picasa albums (Picasa Web Matrix was choosen for the task). Of some reasons it did not work :-(, so I had to dig into code myself. Found out that probably google have changed the structure of the feed, so some minor changes should be done in the source in order to get it working.

If you need a solution drop me a notice, I share mine :-)
I’ll play a bit with WP widgets so I removed my old theme (it was to old for widget to work), and replaced it with one distributed with WP 2.0.7.

Let’s stick to this for a while. redesign

Well if you ever wondered why there was so scilent here I tell you. We were intensively working on redesigning so I simply did no have time.

Now things are finally falling into the right place (still som bugs to fix) but you can check it out and make a seach.

By the way, it’s one of the first major Norwegian Internet services that validate XHTML Strict :-). Something I’m very proud to announce here.

Colors are ideology

Indeed, following ideology: color by itself does not mean anything! Nothing. At all. All taks about some colors not harmonizing with others or meaning something without the surrounding context is shamanism worse then horoscope.

“Red means danger” says a man that in the morning had eaten a tomato with fortitude without trembling. “Black is too obscure” – says another who read black letters in his morning newspaper and were laughing. “Grey is boring” – compains third. You are boring! Look at Baster Kiton. He is all grey but much funnier then you are. “Blue symbolize hope, green renewal” – designer talks nonsense. Please… designer… stop this and tell the client here are 16 millions colors point your finger. We will color it any color but delete button remains red (by the way, the client never argues that one :-)).

When I hear that red and green do not harmonize I go mad. Look at the freaking range of strawberries you moron!