Presentation Tips

I gave a presentation about the basics of Web 2.0. I discovered several important things, and experienced important learnings. Thank God I made some good mistakes!

1. Forget about the time, and look at the faces: Give your breaks when you feel the audience needs it. Never mind about what time you planned to give the time out. When they are listening intently and following you, it's meaningless to stop this. After all, you have spent some good time on building and maintaining their attention. Don't waste it. It's like the ace in your hand. Use it wisely.

2. Magnify the relevant comments only : Most of the time you will have some people commenting on what you are saying. Some of it will be relevant and useful, and some will just be people saying whatever comes to their mind. Your response to these comments magnifies their importance to the audience. The audience is yours, and they will pay attention to whatever you tell them. Don't try to please everyone by attending to whatever they are saying. Make sure you reward the good comments.

3. Talk to faces, not the "audience": Try to make good use of eye contact. This means that you should connect with as many people as you can by looking in their eyes several seconds and making sure you "attract" them and keep them with you. You need to have this backed up by a logical flow of arguments. The people in the front rows can be powerful anchors for getting others to pay attention too. You can easily look in their eyes.

4. Relax!: Don't try. Just talk to the audience. Having a loud and clear voice is essential to keeping them with you. But when you talk in a relaxed manner, you convey your confidence and you send out the message that they should listen to you.

Here is the Web 2.0 presentation.

What to Do With the Increasingly Complicated World?

Be like the Internet!
The Internet is definitely one of the main forces, adding to the complexity and uncertainty in our lives. Although it is giving us unprecedented opportunity and threats, what it equally provides to everyone is an increase in the size and number of interactions that we make (with humans and machines).
I can't understand why many people say that with the advent of the new technologies, the world is becoming smaller. I think the world has become huge, and unintelligibly larger, because of technology. We send and receive hundreds of messages every day, to tens of people, and in several different formats. Each person is the center of their own world, or universe if you will. My world at least is definitely not smaller.
So how do we deal with all this, and what does it require from us as people to do? What kind of attitude do we need to have to thrive, or at least survive, in such circumstances?
The name of this presentation is a part of the answer: Be Like the Internet. The first thing that came to mind when I read this, was that we should be widespread, flexible, scalable, shapeless, and vague.
This presentation is much better in explaining this, especially with creative and descriptive photos that clearly tell you how to "be" like the Internet.

How to Deal With Rejection

Question it!
That was the most important lesson I learned from the seminar I attended today, by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of The Art of Living. He gave a one-hour talk about several issues, and gave some tips for life. The idea that really struck me was the following:

We only question the things that are given to us in the positive. We never question the negative stuff.

When someone says, "You were great!" or, "I really admire you!", we usually reply, "Really??". But when someone says, "You are really bad at handling things" we immediately believe, and feel the need to defend ourselves and try to prove something.
The next time I am confronted with a negative idea (by anyone or by myself), I'll face it with the not-so-obvious question, "Are you sure? Do you really think so?". I'll keep questioning until they (or I) really start to rethink that idea. And whenever I get a great positive idea, I'm not going to question it, just for a change.
An important thing that this does, is that it immediately interrupts the attacking person's assault. You give them a totally unexpected response, and you really make them wonder and think about the validity of what they are claiming. A very good sales technique!

Slashing the Crap From Your Life by Adding More Slashes

This is a seriously inspiring video by two authors who have met because their books wereOne Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success extremely similar. This is also a part of the Authors@Google series.
Marci Alboher, author of One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success and Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich talk about how to live and balance your life and career(s) and share really cool stories about people who are doing this. They also Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich share how they themselves are doing this in their lives.
They validly questioned (threw away, and replaced) some of my basic assumptions about what can and what cannot be done. What should and what should not be approached as possible.
This is very important for me, because I'm always interested in two million things at one time, and this especially resonates with my idea of "The Long Tail Person".
A very important distinction was drawn by Tim, which I knew before but this time it sunk in more; the distinction between being busy and being productive. If you confine your thinking to your working hours, you will inevitably find ways of filling that time, and be "busy". If, on the other hand you really focus on what it is you are trying to achieve and do that, you might really be creating more time and space for the things that you want to do.
One of Tim's main ideas was to think about what you really want to do, and design everything around that.
"Well, what if you don't know what you want?" asked one of the people. Marci was actually "waiting" for that question, and they both shared some tips:

1. Go back to your childhood, which is the time you did things without being paid for doing them. "Interview your parents". This is a really nice and easy way of doing this. You immediately discover the things you would love to do when there is nothing you have to do.

2. Experimenting: taking classes that just seem to be interesting to you. This is actually how Marci changed her career from law to writing. She took a course on writing and found out that this something she would really love to do. Tim also points out some insights from his own experimentation. One of the most important is that the experiment is not the same as doing the work. Surfing two hours on Sunday is a lot different from surfing forty hours every week. Keep this in mind during the experiments. Is this something I would like to do throughout the week?

3. Pursuing happiness: Tim gives a very nice way of getting rid of the pursuit of happiness, because it's just a mental abstraction that might simply not mean anything. Instead, you should pursue excitement. Things that keep you awake at night, and make you really wonder how this might be possible. Another awakening realization for me (by Tim) was that you don't really need that much money to do the things that you want to do. He shared a cool anecdote about one of his friends, who wanted to work in a field he hated, just because if he worked hard enough for some years, he'd be making 3 - 5 million dollars a year. Tim's question,"what are you going to do with all that money?". His friend didn't have an immediate answer, he made up a goal about "having a long trip to Thailand". I could have been that friend. Actually I felt it was me talking. Time for action!

The Long Tail Person

The Long Tail has become one of my favorite subjects in its different fields of applications. Maybe because I was never seriously fond of the popular things. I wasn't interested a lot in mainstream events and hobbies. I had my own set of special interests that very few people acknowledged as valid; calligraphy, ballroom dancing, languages, and culture to mention a few.
The Long Tail theory is based on the premise of a huge number of niches amounting to a significant number of results. The total of which is more than the few hits that used to make the big bucks. This is made easier by the Internet, although some applications took place long before the online world existed.
What if we took this argument to the personal level, to people who are passionate about many things, but are not world-class experts on any.
Would the combined effect of these passions make an important and meaningful total?
"A Jack of all trades is a master of none", they say.
I say, "a Jack of all trades is a master of some".
How can anyone master anything if they are not very good at the components of that "thing"? How can you be the best producer of soap in town, without being a very good salesman, and without being an excellent manager of your team? You can't!
If you want to be a master of your trade, you need to be a Jack of all the sub-trades within your niche. Many of these will be unrelated to your core competency. What does an excellent soap formula generation have to do with managing a sales team?
Nothing actually, but it is something you have to have.
So, if you are a Jack of all trades, group some of those trades in a meaningful way, and find that trade where nobody will even be able to compete with you, because as the best lesson I learned in strategy says, "to provide a value mix that cannot be imitated, and cannot be bought with money".
If your differentiation strategy depends on a technology or assets that can be bought, you are not securing a strong position.
But... If you speak Russian, French, and English, work at a division of a French manufacturer of air conditions in Moscow, have a BSc in engineering, and an MBA, how many people can really compete with you on your position as head of the division?
These are the different skills that you are good at. You could be acceptably good in all these areas, but if you are dedicated enough, you can be the best division manager in the world (for that division).

How to Translate an Ad

Many times I see meaningless ads formatted and written in a tone that does not touch any aspect of our lives. Often times, these are poorly translated ads, that were translated by the dictionary, not by culturally-aware human beings.
Not only do these ads fail at conveying the right message, they sometimes backfire in certain societies.
Here are some tips to take into consideration while translating an ad or any other form of copy, written, audio, or visual:

  1. Don't translate!: yes, you read it right. The first thing you DON'T want to do, is take a dictionary, and go word-for-word, or sentence-for-sentence. While this might work well with normal prose, it is quite dangerous with ads. What makes this process more delicate, is the limited space usually provided for advertisements. You usually don't have enough space to go around idioms and phrases, and you have to create something that fits. Don't translate, transcreate. Here is an article that sites different instances of successful transcreation in literature and art.
  2. Think culturally: Thinking about the cultural implications while you write the new copy is necessary to make sure you get your message to the people. There is a website that talks about similar stuff, but the name of the website is the key for this tip: Don't make me think! This site talks about the Internet users' experience and how it must be improved by being simple, to the point, and easy to understand. When you write a transcreated ad, don't make your audience think.
  3. Find the corresponding idiom: Many times, smart ads make us of certain idioms or puns on certain words. This is where you are really transcreating. The pun cannot be translated, and the idiom might and might not have a counterpart in the target language. In this case, you should find the idioms that are used in the target language and find ways in which they can click with the audience.
  4. Test: You should always ask regular non professionals to see the ad and check their reaction. This is also a tip for writing regular ads for your own audience also. Many of us get swayed with the greatness or beauty of a certain pun, or fall in love with a certain idea, that we forget that we are writing to certain people, and even forget that they need to understand! This is an example by Olay.
  5. Check the positioning: An American diapers brand had a commercial showing how easy it is to use their diapers, and how much it saved time. The same ad was adapted for the Far East, and it backfired, as those mothers came through as uncaring. "Why would a mother want to spend less time caring for her babies?" If you don't take this into consideration, you will do the opposite of what you actually want.
  6. Let the people decide: Another safe (and free) method of doing this, is by passing the concept to your target audience and seeing how they deal with it. Post a thread on a forum, and discuss your brand or message. Observe what words people use to describe certain concepts. You will be surprised at how differently people use words for concepts. Try to check if they are using any cultural references or similarities. This is the language they are most comfortable using. Use it in your ads.

The main idea is that you should take the concept, and work with it. Giving it a fresh and local touch, and making sure your audience understand and like it at a glance.

As advertisers globalize, they will need to focus on local partners who understand the culture, instead of just copying and pasting their offices to new locations.