Beautiful Presentations
February 5, 2009

chessWhen we think about design in the broadest sense it encourages us to look for inspiration all around us. Architecture is no exception. I recently read Paul Goldberg’s article in the New Yorker, Center Stage, about the redesign of Lincoln Center and Alice Tully Hall. A quick aside, the New Yorker contributors are excellent at using story to make any subject more captivating.  There was one line that got me thinking,

“Architects sometimes talk of design elements as “moves,” as if they were playing a game of chess…”

First, we should be thinking about our presentations in terms of design. As far as I am concerned our presentations are works of art. Architects design a space thinking about how people will walk around in it, how they will feel, how they will interact with different elements, and as presenters we should be taking the same view. Our words are creating a structure which the audience will live in for the duration of the talk. We want them to feel welcomed and comfortable, not unsettled and dying to get out of there. We need to see the whole of process of developing a presentation through the lens of design. There is beauty in reducing an idea to its core. The search for perfect simplicity, as we keep taking away the unnecessary is also an aesthetic. Then with the essence of our message we begin to build, move by move, word by word, image by image, a cathedral where the audience will come and pay homage to our idea. All the while keeping in mind how will audiences like being in this space we have created. It is not my intention to be over the top with the cathedral image, but as presenters we are there to give the audience something they will remember, act on and believe. We want the audience hanging on our every word like it is gospel.

Design is not about putting a nice shell on our idea and attracting people with the glitter. Real design starts with the idea and protects it, throughout the process, from distractions so the audience can receive it in as pure a form as possible.

We are “how” we do.
January 21, 2009

Cityset

What I am and what I do are different things. However, what I am and how I do (what I do) are not. How we do is a direct reflection of who we are; how we approach work projects, how we meet someone new, how we deal with conflict, how we manage change, how we act as husbands, wives, brothers sisters and friends. How we do all of this is a reflection of who we are. I am not just my job or my various relationships but I am the energy I give, the attention I direct and the love I project. Each area of our lives deserves to be nourished by this understanding. All true philosophies and spiritual paths direct us towards unity of thought, word and deed so that “how” we do reflects the highest us.

Speech is creative, not only in the artistic sense, in that it creates actions, emotions and thoughts. It can create worlds within our minds, worlds that we live in worlds that are positive or negative. Speech can raise a nation and topple a civilization. The “how” brings us right up next to who we are. It mirrors our thoughts, hidden intentions, desires, weaknesses, strengths, emotions, intelligence, love, kindness; you cannot speak and hide. The spoken word betrays our inner world.

Speech can be meaningful in all situations. It is not necessarily the content. Best friends can speak of the most trivial things but the authenticity is apparent. What matters is the authenticity of the moment. The search for authentic communication is no different than the search for your Self. Find your Self and you can not help but be authentic. Find your authentic voice and you have found your Self.

Authentic speech can lead us to our Self and the everyday world can lead us to authentic speech. The clues are everywhere, the stories of our time are waiting to be heard, the beauty of design is waiting to be seen, the language of emotion is waiting to be felt. Listen, look and feel and speak your way to your own heart and the hearts of others.