Nerd Nite!

Hi all. I just want to say how proud I am of myself for having a super successful Nerd Nite talk on Tuesday. I am going to toot my own horn. It was great. People were engaged. People asked thoughtful questions. And, I got applause from answering those questions thoughtfully. I am so pleased.

As I wrote before, I really forced myself to go through a clear, detailed planning process. It paid off. I promise you that the work is worth it. Starting from scratch, even if you’ve done it before, is fully worth it.

I wanted to share my slide deck (pdf). It makes no sense without me talking over it, however, I would be happy to talk you through it. I’m also proud of how beautiful it is. Mega credits to my incomparable Beaty Museum team for the photos, which are available to all through a creative commons license.


If anyone knows how to embed a pdf or google slides directly in wordpress, it would be much appreciated.


Summer recap!

Well apparently I’ve taken nearly 3 months off of blog writing. I think it goes without saying that I had a busy summer. Very busy…

The biggest highlight was heading to the Visitor Studies Association Conference in Indianapolis in July. It was wonderful and inspiring, and I have so many ideas! I am really looking forward to applying some of these ideas in our new exhibits to study our visitor habits in-depth.

Some questions I hope to look at are:

  • Are self-led participatory elements worth it? Do people use the materials for our intended purpose?
  • When people look at exhibits, are they engaging with the material or just pointing their faces at content?
  • What type of exhibits help people journey from looking to learning the most effectively?

So interesting! Such a fun part of my job, along with all of the other fun things. I love understanding what makes people tick.

Pulling together a Portfolio

There’s nothing more satisfying than going through all of your past projects and documents and pulling out the most exciting projects to show people. A portfolio is one of the best ways to showcase your skills to a potential employer. Here are my tips to help you stay focused during the process:

  • Develop a cohesive “brand” for yourself. Use templates and consistent fonts for your cover page, resume, cover letter, CV, and indexes. NB BrandDepending on your field of work, this may be more or less creative. All of my pages include this blue/green logo, complimentary formatting, and consistent fonts.
  • Now that you have a cohesive look and feel, your random mismatched documents will feel less haphazard, and seem more purposeful.
  • Go through your paper and digital files and pull out about twenty things you think are extra special and showcase your skills.
  • Re-read the job description.
  • Cull your portfolio items down. Make sure that each item speaks directly to an element in the job description.
  • Assemble your portfolio, including:
    • Extra copies of your resume and references.
    • An in-depth (and accurate) CV. This is where you can list any web-based portfolio items.
    • Make sure all the pages are organized into categories, stacks, page protectors, dividers – whatever makes the most sense.
    • Make sure all of the pages are tidy and you are using a clean portfolio (binder, duotang, etc)
  • Consider a digital portfolio, if applicable.
  • Show a friend or colleague ahead of time!

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to think it through and assemble it. It should help you focus on your interview/job hunt, and refresh your memory of your favourite projects and tasks.

Am I missing any of your favourite tips?

Talks 2.1: PowerPoint Lost to the Ether

So much for my pep-talking and excitement about my upcoming presentation. My nearly completed PowerPoint for my talk has crashed and is no more. I had one recovery file, which then crashed while saving. So it’s all gone. I only wish I was more computer-literate so I could somehow resuscitate the xml temp files which might as well be written in hieroglyphics… Do. Not. Understand…. So. Angry.

Thankfully, I am not a last-minute person, so I still have a solid week to prepare, so it could be worse. I also followed my own advice and made a paper copy, so I know where I’m going with this. But still. What a loss.

What devastating computer/PowerPoint failures have you experienced?

Planning to Present

Planning has to be the most valuable (and most avoided) step of the communicating process. How many people actually set pen to paper before writing or creating?

I have been trying to get into the habit of planning more effectively. Recently, I created a presentation for a museum talk series (post to follow). I read in several places that the best place to start is to storyboard.

Exhausting? Yes. Valuable? Yes. I came up with a few pointers along the way. These are not my own, but wrangled through several sources. Presentation Zen is an excellent resource. I’ve summarized them in my own way.

To create an effective presentation:

  1.  What are you being asked to do? This question should include simple things like: size and makeup of audience, level of knowledge of audience, length of talk, time and date, what style of presentation, and what materials you have access to or need to bring.
  2.  What do you want your audience to take away? Think about your main points and arguments. If you were to hear these people chatting about your talk on the street, what will they say to their friends?
  3.  How will you lead them on this journey? Think about the knowledge level of your audience and what they will need to experience to get to your take away message. Realize how much effort will need to go in from your audience to get there, and put in MUCH more to help them get there. For example: if I am talking to kindergarteners about pollination, I am taking them from 0-60. I know that they love plants and animals, and I can use this strength to help them on their journey. I will need to step out of my comfort zone (put in effort) to help them reach their knowledge potential. Really spend some time on this step. **This is the hardest step. If done with oomph, the other steps will fall into place easily.
  4. Outline. Take your planned journey and write it into a logical outline with topics and subtopics or sections. Write anything that will be useful to you as you present and form materials (websites, video titles, etc)
  5. Storyboard and map. Layout your presentation and time. How much do you want to focus on each point? Physically DRAW each slide if it’s a powerpoint, map if it is an outdoor presentation, and draft any materials. Estimate 1 slide per minute on powerpoint to start.
  6.  Go to your computer. You are going here now and not before so you don’t have to be farting around on the computer during your creative process. Save your eyes and wrists! This shouldn’t take long. Create a template for your slides to follow that matches your audience and will show off your topic effectively. Or, forgo it and just do one photo per slide. Use pictures and charts in high resolution. If you can’t read the text on a chart, edit it. Use rulers and margins to help you align your work.
  7. Delete almost all text off of your slides. If the audience can hear it from you, take it out. If it reinforces your point and will help, keep it in. Limit yourself to less than 10 words on less than half of your slides, if possible. If you must include more text, use animations effectively to help you wrangle what your audience is paying attention to. Keep text slides fairly neutral and spaced out.
  8.  References! Cite all sources of material that isn’t yours. Be religious about this. You can place it right on each slide in the bottom, 50% grey, 10pt. Easy peasy.
  9.  Practice. A lot. Read out loud to yourself. Time yourself. Use the time recording tools on powerpoint to help you see which slides you spend the most time on, and maybe want to add a few more in. Try it out on a colleague, friend, spouse, or pet. Ask them targeted feedback questions like: Do I have a weird tick when I am unsure (so, um, like)? What am I doing with my hands? Am I looking at the audience? Do I speak too slowly or quickly? Think of a few for yourself. Encourage them to ask you questions on your topic and get engaged.
  10.  Prepare. Get sleep and a good meal. Ensure you have sufficient time to get yourself set up. Have all of your materials ready to go. Have a back up plan – what happens if the power goes out? Breathe. Pee. Bring water. Invite a friend.

Now you should have a well planned, organized, and beautiful presentation. Remember to alter your presentation for each audience. No two are the same – be prepared to ad-lib as needed to keep everyone interested and engaged.

Slide from bogs ppt

Slide from bogs powerpoint. Using a template from powerpoint, you can really make your presentation pop.