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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

The world of coincidences

Lunar Logic Polska Planning Poker

Lunar Logic Polska Planning Poker

I went to Krakow this week to hold a couple of workshops for people from our office on 18th of May.

Workshop 1.
Agile estimations with planning poker.

Workshop 2.
Agile planning with Blitz planning.

To my great disappointment early in the morning the day the session should be held I discovered that I forgot planning poker cards. And how do you teach people play planning poker without the cards? I needed at least 4-5 decks of cards because it should be around 20 people at the session.

The were not many options:

  • Print out and cut the cards from the A4 sheets of paper.
  • Find the real cards

I was more inclined to try the last option. So I turned my laptop and fired a search “planning poker krakow”. Couple of hits returned the name of Mariusz Ciesla and an image you can see above this post. The caption on the image was “Lunar Logic Polska” and this was also my second google search which returned a link to the Lunar Logic Polska – a company based in Krakow.

My reasoning went fast. If a company orders planning poker cards from a designer, probably they will have some decks available. I went to a contact us page, grabbed the address (it was a few blocks away from my hotel) and went out of the hotel. 5 minutes later I was knocking on the door in a dark office (hey, it was 8 in the morning). A girl showed up and I fired: “Hi, I´m an agile coach who forgot his planning poker cards at home and will have a planning poker workshop very soon, so I need to buy 5 decks of cards. I found you your company on the Internet and understand that you are doing agile development and can possible have the cards here”. *smile*

The girl said wait a second, and seconds later I was met by a men who said that I can just get the cards from them free of charge. I said I would happily borrow and return the cards later. Got my 4 decks, got a business card saying Paul Klipp on it and was about to leave the office when

Coincidence 1 happened
I saw kanbanery.com opened on the screen and I said to Paul: “Oh, you are using kanbanery.com too (because I used the tool)” and got a reply: “We actually made it”. What a surprise!

I had little time to express my astonishment so I jumped out in the rain to go to the office to do my workshop preparations.

I had my cards and the session was saved!

Coincidence 2.
During the session I found out that the designer who designed the cards was one of our former employees and actually worked in our Polish office where I was holding the session.

The same evening I chatted with Paul over skype and we agreed to meet the day after to have morning coffee and an agile talk :). We met 9:30 in the morning, I returned the cards, and we had a really great chat discussing our agile challenges, broken different scrum implementations and such :). An hour went like a minute for me (thank you Paul for sharing your insight and expertise). Paul had his daily scrum at 10:30 and had to go, while I had one more hour before I should be heading to the airport, so I was invited to attend the daily scrum (thanks again Paul).

Which agile coach can say no to attend others daily scrum meeting? None? Me neither. I said yes and minutes later I was attending the morning meeting of the kanbanery team :) (they even let me talk there, yeah a talking chicken).

Now I´m back to Oslo sitting in my office, really glad to actually have forgotten the cards at home. I feel being grateful to the agile community, to people like Paul Klipp helping strangers, to the world being such an amazing place to be and to all the coincidences happening in my life.

P.S. Coincidence 3.
Paul is a man behind Agile Central Europe Conference that I hope to attend next year.

Seth Godin in Antwerpen. I want a refund :)

The scene in Queen Elisabeth Hall, Antwerpen

The scene in Queen Elisabeth Hall, Antwerpen

I´m sitting on a train from Antwerpen to Brussels writing this post. I came to the Hall of Queen Elisabeth in Antwerpen just to hear Seth Godin speak. And now I´m returning back home to Oslo. Reflecting if my trip was a waste of time and money so that I could do some name dropping afterwards or was there a real value for me.

I read most of the books that Seth Godin wrote. I read his last one – “Linchpin” the same day it was available on my kindle and the idea from this book (as well as his another book Tribes) was the main topic this evening. The idea of us breaking away from our “factory work” to do the work that really matters. The idea of finding you true passion and to creating experiences for other people around it. To lead the tribe of people who shares the same passion to a place where they want to go.

I highly recommend you to read both books in full for a more persuasive copy, but I can tell you that this were these books that influenced me enough to make up the time (it is Easter holiday after all), to book flight to Brussels, take a train to Antwerpen just to hear Seth speaking for a couple of hours.

I can tell you the truth I did not hear anything new. That is why the name of this post. But I can also tell you that I´m inspired (once again, hehe) and maybe this is the kick I needed to actually do something. Seth didn´t say anything I did not know from before. No secret knowledge, no broadening of the theme (the book of cause covers more than an hour speech). I already knew the stuff he was talking about. And at the same time knowing does not equal doing. During Seth talk I suddenly realized that I don´t need more listening, I don´t need more theory, I´ve got enough. Just go do it.

So to make it clear, I do not regret a single cent or single minute spent to see Seth Godin speak tonight.
He is a great speaker, the topic is interesting. It was good seeing so many people in the audience. And it was beautiful Q&A at the end. Here is what I remember from it:

About discipline.
One guy from the audience said that he was reading Seths blog for a while and he really admires the regularity of his blog posts. And Seth answered that he did not miss a day for a long time. He also said:
Start a blog. Everybody should have one. Do a post every day and after a year you´ve got 365 of them. It´s a great thing for you even if nobody is reading it.

After a short discussion on politics and our education system a lady asked how Seth would change our schools?
The answer went like changing the system takes longer but all of us can teach our kids at home. And we should teach them two things:
1. To solve interesting problems
2. To lead
Because both things are scarcity in todays world.

One more guy like me has been coming from Munich to hear Seth speak. He said he was expecting kind of a roadmap about how to become an artist doing things that matters. And he did not get any.
Seth offered him a refund ;). He said that there is no map. If there were everybody should already been there. You should just start doing something that matters. Nobody knows the way, nobody can tell you what to do. But it happens that you get a hint from yourself. That is when your lizard brain kicks in. When you get scared of doing something, when the resistance in you arises and you are afraid. Then you maybe onto something. Do the things that scare you, overcome the resistance and maybe you wake up an artist one day.

Idea giveaway: Social salad bar chain

Here is an idea I discussed with a colleague of mine during lunch and its up for grab to you.

We discussed how one can mix social media with a brick and mortar business and came up with this brilliant move :)

Imaging you are entering a salad bar that looks like an internet cafe. There are flat touch screens along the walls and big screens hanging from the ceiling. You go towards one of the screens and start mixing your salad. You simply touch the ingredients buttons on the screen and hit “done” when you are finished.

Now, the guys and gals at the kitchen start mixing your salad for you, while the system checks if anybody else in the history of the salad chain have chosen same ingredients, if no: Hey! you can name you own salad mix, the camera in the screen snaps a picture of you, you can write some lines that will be stored together with the recipe and next time somebody chooses the same ingredients, they will see that this is YOUR mix :) they´ve just ordered.

The screens at the ceiling show what other people are eating right now in the bar, they show what salads are most popular, and most rare ones.

Of cause there will be possible to log in into the system online from home, and see the list of all “your” mixes, you can discuss them with other users. You can browse the recipes of others, you can even order online or from your iPhone one of the existing mixes in the nearby salad bar.

The menu with the existing mixes is also available on the touch screens in the bar.
You can do this for pizza chains or other businesses. Hey, I think this will work, what´s your thoughts? Share them in comments.

Booking process challenge

Every online company should always try to continuously improve their product. As head of development of norwegian classifieds website zett.no I’ve been looking at our competitors’ websites (finn.no and tinde.no) 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.

Influential reading

Here is the list of books and resources that I read recently that has influenced me in one way or another (in no particular order):

  1. Zen Habits – blog of Leo Babauta covering: achieving goals, productivity, being organized, GTD, motivation, eliminating debt, saving, getting a flat stomach, eating healthy, simplifying, living frugal, parenting, happiness, and successfully implementing good habits.
  2. Get rich slowly – blog of J.D>. Roth sharing stories about debt elimination, saving money, and practical investing.
  3. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds
  4. The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams
  5. Web Standards Solutions by Dan Cederholm
  6. DOM Scripting: Web Design with JavaScript and the Document Object Model by Jeremy Keith
  7. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
  8. Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
  9. Scrum and XP from the Trenches by Henrik Kniberg
  10. The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing by Jason Kelly
  11. Scalable Internet Architectures by Theo Schlossnagle
  12. Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design by Robert Hoekman Jr.
  13. Getting real by 37signals
  14. Winning by Jack and Suzy Welch
  15. The big book of key performance indicators by Eric T. Petterson

The list is never complete, so I’ll update the post once in a while…

Wrong sprint burndown?

Just wanted to share with you all this sprint burndown chart:

Sprint burndown chart

Sprint burndown chart (click to enlarge)


How do you feel about it?
How do you think the team felt about it?
Do you think this was a good or a bad sprint?

Say what you think in the comments, I’ll update this post one week later with real answers :-)

SEO Howlers at International Search Summit 09

I was speaking today at SEO howlers session at International Search Summit Oslo together with Andy Atkins-Krüger and Kristjan Mar Hauksson. We were trying to wake up the audience after lunch and I hope we done this well. It was quite fun (at least for me) and at the same time quite rewarding.

Following things were mentioned as SEO SEM howlers:

  • URL rewrites (just take a look at elkjop.no product pages)
  • Missing 404 pages
  • Non existing pages returning 200 status
  • Defending your brand reputation
  • Supporting your offline campaigns online
  • Doing the basics (titles, h1s, flash, etc)
  • Use of negative keywords in ppc campaigns

I hope the audience enjoyed the session as much as I did :-).

Kanosurvey.com

I launched http://kanosurvey.com a small project for the Agile community. If you use kano model for prioritizing your features, this site would be helpful. You can set up a survey and get your users/customers answer it in order to find out more about your features.

Fitting UX people into scrum team

Sergey Dmitriev talkingYesterday, I’ve been participating in a Debate about agile and usability.

Three Scrum Masters (I was one of them) and three UX people was sitting at the same table. Everyone of us should come with one suggestion about how to fit UX people into the scrum teams better.

Here is what’s been said.

Scrum Masters:
* Geir Amsjø: Use Feature Times (and sprint 0)
* Sergey Dmitriev: UX people can swallow their pride and contribute to the backlog
* Johannes Brodwall: UX people should become more versatile, so that they can contribute more

UX people:
* Jon Gunnar Wold: Developers should know their responsibilities
* Fredrik Matheson: Product Owner should be a pro
* Anders Fagerhus: UX people should stay one sprint ahead of developers

We had a really great talk and I want to thank all the participants. I also enjoyed talking to the audience in the free minutes: Miguel Calix (nice chat about combining PO and SM roles) and Marit Søholt Stokes about the importance of making the contracts better by having a paragraph or two about the customer responsibilities as a Product Owner (I really wanted to do a followup on this one).