Kieran LeBlanc, executive director of the Book Publishers Association of Alberta, recently sent me a link to a TED talk by John Bohannon.
"Dance vs. Powerpoint: A Modest Proposal" elegantly demonstrates that there is more than one way to get a point across. The video is just 11 minutes long; you should take a look (when you are done with this post!).
In his talk, Bohannon offers a wonderful phrase, "the defeat of intuition through experimentation", that I used (with attribution, I promise) in my talk last week at O'Reilly Media's executive roundtable. Certainly his use of dance in lieu of Powerpoint makes for a powerful experiment.
Whether in presentations or in business, I think there's a pent-up demand for experiments, even small ones. No matter what the size, though, experiments still require planning and evaluation – hard work in busy times.
The upfront investment in something new and different is a hurdle that both presenters and audiences have to get over. Although Bohannon's video is memorably short, it's easy to imagine the weeks or months of work it took to choreograph the presentation.
And the audience probably had to adjust as well. While TED talks may gather a somewhat more attentive crowd, most presenters know they now contend with e-mail, the web, Twitter and back-channel chat as co-presenters.
I tried to break out of that with "Context first", which I'll be presenting again next week at an event in London. As rewarding as that work was, I need only go to Slideshare to see that a text-heavy "slideument" for a presentation I gave on mobile reading has gathered more than 8,000 views since I posted it last year.
Maybe that reflects the many different ways that people learn. It could also be that mobile reading is sexy and content workflows are … not.
But if I show up at a conference near you with a dance troupe in tow, don't be surprised. One of my neighbors is a choreographer.