Archive | February, 2012

A Very Brief History of Storytelling

28 Feb

Stories have existed long before recorded history, and the telling of stories has changed forms drastically throughout the ages.  From cave painting to novels to movies, stories have always fascinated mankind.  Although the methods have changed, the desire to tell and hear stories has remained unchanged, and still greatly impacts the way we look at life.

The earliest form of storytelling that has been discovered is from the Lascaux Caves in the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France.  Discovered in 1940 by a group of French children, a series of cave paintings that date back to sometime between 15000 and 13,000 B.C. depicted a variety of animals and one image of a human being.  When closely examined, this mural of sorts actually follows a very simplistic series of events.  It tells of rituals performed and hunting practices.  It tells a story.

Flash forward to 700 B.C.  The first printed story, the epic of Gilgamesh, was created and began to spread from Mesopotamia to other parts of Europe and Asia.  The story was carved on stone pillars for all to see, which spread the story around very quickly.

In the 200s B.C., Aesop’s fables were written down, and continue to teach lessons today in many areas of life.  Aesop lived in the 500s B.C., but his stories were remembered for hundreds of years without a single shred of paper or other printed material.  Isn’t that amazing?  Oral storytelling was so powerful and people remembered Aesop’s tales so well that even 300 years later the stories were revered enough for mass production.

Storytellers began to arise as very important figures in a community.  The ability to tell stories effectively and memorably was a very valuable skill.   Why?  As wars were fought and valiant deeds were done, the people needed some way to remember them.  Instead of simply stating what happened, stories began to emerge as a way to preserve the raw emotions and sequence of events of the actual event.

The Bible’s Old Testament spoke of men and women, of tales and lessons learned that occurred many, many years before they were written.  A majority of the books relied on solid resources for their writings.  What were these resources?  Stories.  People witnessed events, heard the stories and kept them alive through word of mouth.  They told their friends, families and communities about the events, and a chain was formed, one link, one storyteller, at a time.

Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets weren’t meant to be published, but his status became legendary once they were.  He was known as a great storyteller to many of his close friends, but soon became immortalized in the pieces that he produced.  From a young street rat in London to being taught in every school hundreds of years later, he made his mark on literature forever.  How did he do it?

Storytelling.

Steve Jobs was famous for his keynotes.   Whether launching new products or making an announcement, he agonized for hours over the details of his presentations.  People were amazed at his ability to craft a narrative, to create and maintain suspense and to deliver a solid message.  It wasn’t dazzling special effects or crazy props.

It was storytelling.

History is nothing but a series of stories that, when told correctly, can teach us lessons, give us insights into a variety of concepts, or entertain us.  Every story serves a purpose, even if to simply relay a message.  Without history, without chronicled stories, mankind would never learn from his mistakes, would never dream to emulate past heroes, would never see anything but the now.  We would be clueless to the past, and therefore helpless for the future.

We all crave stories because they allow us to sympathize with characters.  Tell your audience a story, and you will gain their support.  You will create a following for your cause and inspire your audience to act and believe.

In your next presentation, remember the power of storytelling.  Remember that even in a straightforward business presentation, a story helps to illustrate a point better than a set of facts.  A story gives people a reason to care about what you’re saying.  They relate to the characters, the plot and the lessons learned.  They relate to your story, and therefore your message.

So, what’s your story?

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Presentation Memes

21 Feb

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It’s important to look at your audience, making personal connections through direct communication.  Your audience can get frustrated and stop paying attention.  Y u no look at them?

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Don’t be like  Scumbag Steve. Keep your slides minimal and your commentary separate from the text.  People can read.  

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Use humor carefully.  A joke can make or break a presentation.  Success kid did it, but that doesn’t mean everyone can.

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Bullet points are used in slides that are crammed with information.  Don’t cram.  Simplify your message so that it is easy to digest.  And so Willy Wonka doesn’t look at you that way.

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Clip art is unprofessional and cheesy. Enough said.

5 Valuable and Highly Effective Prezi Tips

9 Feb

There’s a shift occurring in the presentation world.

It’s been happening slowly, but is picking up pace as people are beginning to “get” how important presentations really are to your business, organization or brand.

As this shift takes place, new tools have emerged to facilitate growth in the presentation industry.

One of these tools is Prezi.

Prezi has emerged as an excellent tool in presentations because it makes them fun and engaging.  At Big Fish Presentations, Prezi is one of our requested creation tools, and it has had a tremendous impact on the way we think about and create presentations.

Over time, through many projects and countless discussions, we have learned a few things about how to improve your experience with Prezi.

Here are a few tips to help you out in your next presentation.

1. Utilize Perspective

Unlike Powerpoint, Prezi is a very diverse in its movement and transitions.  Instead of keeping your audience in a tiny box, Prezi literally has the capability to take viewers outside that box and take them on a ride.

If used correctly, Prezi can be an adventure, an exciting display of color and designs that your audience will truly enjoy.  We use perspective in our Presenting An Experience” presentation by zooming in and around the screen.  Notice how the perspective changes dramatically at times.  This gives depth to your presentation and allows your audience to enjoy the content instead of simply watching bullet points fade in and out.

(Note: Don’t be too crazy with the zooming and speed.   See tip number 3.)

2. More graphics than words

A picture is worth a thousand words.  This is a cliché, of course, but it absolutely applies in Prezi.  An image can tell a story in many different ways than a group of words can. Slim down your content and enrich the meaning with a visual treat for the audience.

Create a centralized image that sets up a theme.  Your audience will be more likely to look back on your presentation and recall that image.  They will remember your story. In our presentation for Celtic Media Centre, we used the image of the projector screen to tie the whole theme of film together.  The audience didn’t just see a set of points.  There was character attached to the content, which is always more memorable and effective.

3. Control your movement

Use control in your zooming and flying around.  No one wants to be taken for a ride so crazy that they have no idea what the points presented even meant.  Find a balance of exciting movement and steady pace.  Make sure that every time there’s a dramatic flip, there’s a reason for it.

Keep your movements simple and fun, not wildly experimental and nauseating.  An example of a Prezi that uses a measured pace and dynamic movement is our Raising Cane’s presentation.  Do you see and feel the rhythm we created?  Keeping it light and wispy, but meaningful and rhythmic is crucial in keeping your audience’s attention while you make your points.

4. Incorporate outside programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.)

Don’t limit yourself.  A Prezi made with only the tools provided within the program can often result in a bland, run-of-the-mill experience for your viewers.  Incorporate things that can’t be done in Prezi to enrich the experience.  Your audience deserves it.

How?

Use creative programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for rich graphics and professional quality design.  For a video, use iMovie, FinalCut, or Adobe Premiere to give your audience the experience that best displays your brand, organization, company, etc.  We incorporated video in our work for New Orleans Entreprenur Week , and it worked very well to diversify the presentation.  Our audience was able to sit back and enjoy a video for a few minutes before moving on to the next point.  High-quality design and video heightens aesthetics and boosts your audience’s morale.

5. Choose a color scheme and be consistent

Prezi is very user-friendly, but this can be a bad thing.  Oftentimes, people with little or no design experience create presentations that incorporate mismatched and, sometimes downright ugly, color schemes.  It’s imperative that you not only choose a color scheme, but that you stick with it and maintain a consistent theme throughout your presentation.

Choosing the color scheme can be difficult if you aren’t sure which colors work well together to convey certain points.  However, there are loads of sites to help with color choice.  Our team of designers chooses color carefully and works with our copywriting team to produce the most appropriate and effective combination.  See our Blue Cross Blue Shield presentation for an example of a consistent color scheme.

 

These are simply tips, not commandments.  Feel free to do with them what you’d like.  We have found that they work for us, and our customers have come back for more because we integrated these techniques into our work.

So, what do you think?

Were these helpful?

We hope so.  If you’d like more tips for Prezi or general advice, please leave us some questions below, tweet us, or post on our Facebook!

Happy presenting!

-Big Fish Presentations

Video

Intern Trailer (ft. Adele)

9 Feb

We have a new intern video in the works, but for now, please take a moment to shed a tear at this tragic video. The new video will be up soon, we promise!

Company Culture with Al Spain, Co-Founder of JetBlue Airways

1 Feb

Mr. Spain was kind enough to stop by the Big Fish headquarters and enlighten us with his views on company culture.  With such an inspiring culture at JetBlue, this is a very informative interview.  Hope you find it useful.  Enjoy!