Do Business Presentations Have to Be Boring?

Is there room for something beyond good sensible Arial font on good sensible backgrounds in business presentations?

In my experience as an artist, writer and fledgling business presenter, people are thrilled to see something more, and that translates into deeper engagement and better takeaway value. As an example of this undiscovered country in business presentations, I recently completed this opening cover slide for a talk I gave called “7 Common Writing Mistakes That Cost Companies.” The premise behind the design was to take the word “presentation” and translate it into a stage show that unfolds information for people just as stage shows present acts.

What are your thoughts about business presentations?

Comments and thoughts of all kinds are welcome. 🙂

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Are We the Water or the Light?

Are we the drops of water that catch the light, or are we the light that pours into form as the dew of dawn before filling the sky?

I wonder about this sometimes in the still breath of morning as I sit having coffee at Rosewood. I know I’ll never discover the answer. Yet I can’t help thinking about the question, and as I do, it occurs to me that I’m like all people. As one life in a chain of souls that have come before me and asked the same basic question, I can know that there really is an eternal mystery and a consciousness that lingers behind it, because I won’t be the last person to sit beneath the morning trees, and the dawn will always bring the dew and the light.

5 Keys to Shooting Photos in a Las Vegas Casino

While most Las Vegas casinos have relaxed their rules about shooting photos, there are still a few rules to follow to avoid an encounter with security staff… or winding up in some back room for “a little chat.” Whether such back rooms still exist, here are five key tips I’ve personally tested in Vegas to shoot photos in a casino.

NEVER SHOOT THE CAGE: This is the biggest rule of all. A casino cashier’s cage is basically a bank that’s jam-packed with money, and that keeps security on hair-trigger alert 24/7. Taking photos of the cage translates as, “I’m casing the place so I can later pull a heist.” This translation may be a bit misguided and outmoded, but shooting the cage amounts to a daredevil move that you don’t want to take.

Don’t Use a Tripod: Unless you’ve been hired by a casino to shoot a TV commercial or promotional video, tripods are an absolute no-no. Tripod legs are a tripping hazard to guests (especially since many of those guests are drunk).

Don’t Use a Flash. Aside from being a distraction and disturbance to gamblers, using a flash is like switching on a big sign that says, “I’m a person violating the rules. Please use your Tasers on me immediately.” Sure, you’ll have to hold your camera rock-steady by hand to even hope for a crisp image… but by playing around with different shooting modes, you should end up with a selection of good images.

Don’t Photograph Guests: Customer privacy is a top priority for Vegas casinos. Guests have come under the idea that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” and casinos want to protect that expectation as part of the complete Vegas experience. Yes, people will often walk into a shot. That’s practically unavoidable, and won’t be seen as privacy infringement. However, directly photographing guests IS seen as privacy infringement, and if you don’t earn a visit from security, you just might wind up with a hostile guest in your face.

Use a Small Camera: The smaller the camera, the more you’ll go unnoticed, and thankfully, there are many great compact camera options. I used a pocket-friendly Nikon A900 to grab some great shots of the casino at the Aria Resort, and the tilting screen was a BIG help. By holding the camera down at waist height and flipping up the screen, I was able to take some good shots without anyone noticing anything.

For more casino shooting tips, watch the video below to discover what I learned about shooting at places like the Aria Resort & Casino, the Bellagio and even Caesar’s Palace.

The Vdara Canoe Explosion

Although there’s never been a known explosion of canoes, Las Vegas gives us a good idea of what it might look like in this colorful bouquet of canoes outside the Vdara Hotel & Spa.

As a Canadian staying near the Vdara at the Aria Resort & Casino as part of a four-day marketing conference, I gotta say. I felt a bit homesick. Yet a few seconds later, I was distracted by thinking, “You know? With all those cables holding the canoes together, the display also kind of looks like Spider-Man  stopped an invasion of voyageurs.”

Whatever the thinking behind the sculpture was, I just couldn’t convince the hotel manager to let me rent one of the canoes so I could paddle around the hotel fountain.

That would have been fun.

The Warhorse (A Phototale)

Left to instinct, the warhorse didn’t walk toward the mud… the blood… the smoke and scattered footprints of ghosts chasing ghosts. Instead, he started back to the fields… to the greenwood and glens… because like all creatures, he knew the way home despite the reins and whippings he’d been forced to endure. And he didn’t hurry… or worry… or want. As rain spattered down to begin washing away the blood and mud and other echoes of madness, he simply walked as he’d always done, and the wind didn’t remember the sound of cannon fire as ever having existed.

A Man Walks Up to a Bird

A man walks up to a stranger and asks, “Can you fly?” The stranger replies, “Are you crazy? Of course I can’t fly! I don’t have wings. I’m much too heavy and, even if I could fly, I’ve got much more important things to do than fly around all day.” Puzzled, the man walks on until he meets a bird and asks, “Can you fly?” Bewildered, the bird replies, “Oh course I can fly. Can’t you?”

If this seems like a strange little story to you… well, it did to me too. Yet that’s what popped into my head yesterday afternoon while walking around the Granary Building in downtown Guelph, Ont., to test-drive my new Nikon A900 camera. The song of a cardinal caught my attention from a distant tree, and as I encountered more birds, something beneath it all slowly wove its way into my head.

Each of us has a different view of what flying means:

  • Escaping the seeming bonds of some crappy job
  • Leaving some unhealthy relationship
  • Rising beyond cultural, racial or sexual discrimination
  • Transcending physical or mental “disabilities”
  • Unfettering yourself from what others say you “should” be doing

Yet there would appear to be a constant that applies to everyone.

While any number of people are only too happy to tell you that flying is impossible and even crazy and irresponsible, there are an equal number of people (and fellow creatures) who’ve never even considered that you CAN’T fly.


cardinal

mourning dove

robin

starling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography Note: Even though this sounds like a product plug, I’ll take a second to gush anyway about the new Nikon Coolpix A900 camera (in case you’re considering buying one).

As a travel-size camera that delivers crisp 20MP images with its low-light CMOS image sensor, the A900 packs a super telephoto NIKKOR glass lens with 35X optical zoom — and 70X digital zoom. As someone who takes a lot of nature shots, the combined portability of the camera with an optical zoom was the main reason why I bought the camera, but the perks include full manual control, 4K HD video recording, Wi-Fi and SnapBridge, plus a fully tilting LCD screen. There’s no viewfinder and the screen isn’t touch-sensitive. Yet the camera controls are simple to use and conveniently at thumb’s reach, and as one who spent a long time using a Samsung Galaxy touch-screen camera, I personally found the button controls a relief to use (especially in glaring sunlight conditions that make LCD screens very hard to see).

The Vulnerable Heart of the Bog

Featured image from the opening of my art showcase video Half-World.

Most people don’t like the idea of being lost, and I’m with them when it comes to major travel concerns like sailing across the ocean or flying across the country. Yet when your feet are firmly planted on the ground, I discovered that being lost can lead to truly magical moments.

While housesitting for friends outside of Owen Sound, Ont., Mary Beth and I were exploring the depths of the surrounding winter woods when we lost our way. As we wandered deeper into the woods, we happened across a frozen bog, and it felt like finding a door to a hidden realm.

For most of the year, the place was hidden from view behind leaves and thickets. Mosquitoes swarmed its borders to guard against intruders, and the pools and muck of the bog itself were a treacherous moat against all but the most brave and foolish. Yet in the cold of a late February afternoon, the bog appeared almost vulnerable without its concealing cloak of leaves. Without its sentinel mosquitoes, the bog seemed to be surrendering itself, however briefly. And as we stepped across frozen ground, it felt like  brief permission to approach the vulnerable heart of the bog and glimpse its secrets.

Later, after finding our way home, it felt good to be back within the warm square walls of familiarity. Yet as I studied the photo I’d taken… as I found my eyes returning to the trees… and as a strange longing filled me… I understood that sometimes the most incredible moments can only be found by being lost.