Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Design Your Space

Slate is running a contest this week called: The 21st Century Classroom:

Contributor Linda Perlstein explains the origins of the project:

While going about my day, I sometimes engage in a mental exercise I call the Laura Ingalls Test. What would Laura Ingalls, prairie girl, make of this freeway interchange?

...take Laura Ingalls to the nearest fifth-grade classroom, and she wouldn’t hesitate to say, "Oh! A school!"
Very little about the American classroom has changed since Laura Ingalls sat in one more than a century ago. In her school, children sat in a rectangular room at rows of desks, a teacher up front. At most American schools, they still do.

wants to change that, and we need your help. Today Slate launches a crowdsourcing project on the 21st-century classroom. In this "Hive," we’re seeking to collect your best ideas for transforming the American school. We’re asking you to describe or even design the classroom for today, a fifth-grade classroom that takes advantage of all that we have learned since Laura Ingalls’ day about teaching, learning, and technology--and what you think we have yet to learn.

At the heart of this contest is the importance of adjusting physical space in order to maximize learning.

Just as you take the time to prepare the content and delivery of your presentation, take the time to prepare the room in which you will giving it.

Find out beforehand how much say you have over which room you present in and how the room is set up. Make sure the space reflects the nature of the presentation.

When I give trainings, for example, I always ask. when possible, for all tables to be removed and chairs arranged in a semi-circle. I do this to allow for maximum interaction and to make clear from the onset that my presentation is different from anything else that happens in the office.

I also remove all clutter and make sure the lighting and temperature are just right.

And I find the sweet spot in the room - the place that draws the most attention. (Note: Never have your back to the door.)

From the Green Room: Design your presentation space. Even the best presentation can flop if the physical space is not conducive to learning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Be Clear

Recently, my six-year old son and I were looking around a local diving store. (His idea.) My son asked the clerk if he would be allowed to touch a mask and snorkel.

The clerk responded, "Not really."

My son paused and then said, "So, can I touch them?"

"He said no," I said, impatiently.

"Well, he didn't actually say, 'no.' He said 'not really,' which means he would prefer I not touch them, but doesn't mean I'm not allowed to."

There you have it.

This incident reinforced for me how often adults, including myself of course, do not speak clearly.
And when it comes to presenting, ambiguity can be our worst enemy - leading to an unfocused and ultimately unmemorable presentation.

From the Green Room: Before you even start writing your speech, take the time to make sure your message is 100 percent clear. Once you are clear on your message, make sure your words, your voice, and your body motions express your message as clearly and consistently as possible.

Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Look at the Camera

Watch the way Mark Bittman, "The Minimalist," focuses his eyes straight at the camera in this NYT cooking video, "Agua Fresca:"

Don't you feel as though he's talking directly to you?

From the Green Room: When you're speaking on camera, focus your eyes like a laser directly at the camera as if you were having an intense conversation with one person.