Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why less is probably more when it comes to presentation length

From a young age we are led to believe that more is more, that is to say that your essays should be as long as possible, your projects should be far in excess of the minimum length requirement and your show and tell should be as lengthy and detailed a talk as possible.

It is rather unfortunate that we are allowed to believe this from such a young age as it results in what only can be described as truly awful speeches and presentations!

When it comes to giving a presentation LESS is often more, the reality is that people have limited attention spans and their brains can only absorb so much information in one sitting, therefore they will remember the first and last few minutes of your hour long presentation... and no more than that.

Great public speakers across the board from politicians to comedians recognise this fact and put it into practice when they talk to their respective audiences. They recognise that a presentation is about the audience, not about them. They recognise that it is their job to get the message across in a way that will be memorable and that will result in an action, not to stand atop a podium and show off how eloquently and comprehensively they can discuss an issue.

Abraham Lincoln is best remembered for his “Gettysburg Address”, a speech which is widely regarded as being one of the best speeches made by a US president. And while many people have heard of this speech, they have most likely not heard that Lincoln was not the main speaker at event, and more importantly that his speech was under 275 words and lasted less than three minutes.

Edward Everett was up before Lincoln on that day, and delivered a speech that was 13,500 in length... I have never heard of Mr. Everett and his role in the Gettysburg Address, in fact I doubt very few non-historians have heard of his speech.

Length is often not everything, if you can get your message across in a short concise talk, like Mr. Lincoln then you should probably do so!

Originally posted at my presentation blog www.clearlypresentable.com

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The reality of meetings

I found this beauty on the 37signals blog. Very true stuff.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Clear Presentation Design - an exciting new direction

After much thinking on the matter I have decided to try putting my presentation skills to some use and start up my own presentation design business. Clear presentation design, found at www.clearpreso.com is my main website. Clear presentation design will offer services such as presentation makeovers, content generation and video presentations to begin with.

I am really looking forward to overcoming the challenges of self employment and directing my efforts towards this venture. I hope I can help people develop and deliver high quality presentations and we can all wave goodbye to the crappy, awful, horrific and ineffective slides that we see from day to day .

I have also started a new blog found at www.clearlypresentable.wordpress.com, it will discuss all things presentation related.

So go on, give them a look!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meetings are expensive... very expensive

It might not occur to most people, but meetings are expensive, very expensive. I am not talking about room rental, equipment rental, the cost of the tea and the chocolate biscuits that Doris the tea lady brings in to the meeting room (although add this in later if you really want), nope I am in fact talking about the cost of the time wasted in the vast majority of meetings.

Although you may think that meetings are just part and parcel of the way your business operates and therefore should not be subjected to criticism, I must tell you that the cost of most meetings is easily calculated, and absurdly large and underestimated.

Let’s imagine that Mr. Director of company X would like to call an internal meeting to discuss the launch of the company’s wonderful new product. The next afternoon all 50 employees shuffle into the large meeting room to hear the Director talk about the new product. The presentation is quite awful, it is poorly structured, conveys little to no information and does little to clear up uncertainties about what the new product will mean for various employees’ roles.

Let’s imagine that this presentation droned on for an hour, a very reasonable estimate. That was very much a completely wasted hour for each employee in attendance, 50 working hours are now firmly down the drain. If you were even more adventurous with your analysis of this meeting you could try and put a financial costing to it. Assuming that the average per-hour wage of the employees is €30 (very conservative here) that meeting has cost the company €1,500 in potential working hours and has given the audience little or no real value or information.

The lesson to be learnt here is that presentations are often an inappropriate form of communication. The Director could have chosen to send around a Word document in this situation describing the details and consequences of the launch. Or, if the Director was hell bent on making a presentation out of it, he could have at least practised out his presentation several times, been clear on the facts and trimmed the presentation down to a reasonable timeframe.

While this might go unnoticed in internal situations, the same will not be true for external meetings. People don’t like having their time and money wasted, so calculate the value of your next presentation (time x people x average wage per hour) – is it worth it? Have you worked hard enough to deliver real value and information? If not… START WORKING ON IT

Fox news try to display info. Fail!

Worst. Piechart. Ever.

From Fox news... who would have thought that all the segments should add up to 100%?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good graphs are like good jokes

Best graph related quote I have ever heard:

Good charts are like good jokes (they don't need to be explained)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thierry Henry's little "mistake"

After last night's Ireland versus France game concluded with a frankly absurd judgement by the ref with regards to Theirry Henry's handball some are calling for a boycott of Gillette products if Mr. Henry continues to be one of their cover boys.

Mr. Manuel Yoacham, wrote on this blog : "I think Gillette needs to implement some damage control, and quick" and to be fair he has a point, a lot of Irish people are calling for him to be banished to a dark hole somewhere.

I think the problem is that while this memory will last forever in the hearts and minds of the Irish, I suspect the distaste with Henry will by temporary elsewhere. Gillette create adverts that can be run anywhere in the world because they have some pretty recognised cover boys. This means they only have to make one advert to satisfy most of their advertising needs, will they care of piddling Ireland stop buying their razors? I suspect not. However we will see what happens.

Ireland played the best I have ever seen them play last night, we should all be very proud, and in terms of the boycott, I haven't used a Gillette razor for a few years now, my views were obviously ahead of their time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Flashmob" in Cork

I found this by way of the wonderful http://www.pkellypr.com/blog/ a blog worth visiting for definite.

The following wonderful video is one filmed in Cork City center of a group of 800 or so people getting together to spread the word about the National Campaign for the Arts, if you like the song Mr. Blue Sky, or you like smiling, I suggest you watch this video.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aer Lingus Rant Continued

I mentioned previously here that I would continue my rant on Aer Lingus, so I will.

I have been searching around for a particular few lines that I read not too long ago in a George Orwell book that reminded me of the Aer Lingus situation. Unfortunately I never found the lines but I remember what the jist of the matter was.

It was referencing his time in Spain where he fought in the civil war, here he witnessed in-fighting on the side he was fighting for just at a crucial time, I believe he compared it to starting a civil war when the murderous enemy is knocking at the city gates... not the best timing.

I like to think that this is what is happening with Aer Lingus, with the unionised staff provoking the civil war. Given that the staff appear to be vowing to fight all cutbacks and layoffs survival is looking very slim... are they really so foolish as to want to stop all changes? Option A: Some people get cut, working conditions change - Option B: Stay the same and everyone loses their job (perhaps an odd show of solidarity?) - Those are pretty much the two option Aer Lingus have... do they really want to commit industrial suicide?

Madness I tells ya.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pretty Pumpkin

Well pumpkin carving time comes but once a year, and after the initial gutting of the pumpkin -which I really hate - it's actually quite fun to carve this vegetable/fruit/not too sure into a nice design.

I present to you my pumpkin for Halloween 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The missing office floor - floor 13

I am very probably one of the least superstitious people you will ever meet, this is a fact I am rather proud of, I walk under ladders and regularly laugh in the face of black cats.

I would like to think that most people that most semi-intelligent people also lend superstition very little time and attention, however I increasingly think that perhaps I could be wrong about this.

The last place you would expect to find a fear of absurd superstitions is the business world, however as a little experiment, if you happen to find yourself in an office building in the United States go into the lift and ask to go to level 13... I think you will find there is no level 13.

Check out the picture below, floors in this Chicago office building go from 12 straight to 14(a). You may insist that this is surely just a mistake on the part of the lift manufacturer... unfortunately not. It seems that all over the US businesses are very reluctant to rent out floor space on floor 13's around the country, so in an attempt to shift this "unlucky" floor number many offices are now just calling it the 14th floor... this sort of logic worries me.

(Plus if you are on the "14th floor" and ARE a superstitious indidivual, surely you know exactly what floor you are on - the horrific, deadly, unlucky, haunted one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Images from the road 9

The Bean, Millenium Park, Chicago
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Monday, October 19, 2009

2 Facts about trains

While listening to "The Bottom Line" a BBC business podcast I heard some information that both shocked and appalled me regarding trains. They may just shock and appall you also.

The UK Chief Executive of Bombardier, the Canadian based airplane and train manufacturer, was being quizzed on the ins and outs of the train manufacturing arm of the company and was asked to estimate in rough terms how much a train costs the buyer.

The answer? 1 MILLION POUNDS! and that's PER carriage! It is therefore little wonder that train operators are doing so abysmally in these rough times. Let's imagine that you want to buy a brand new 8 carriage train for a busy route, that's an instant £8 million you have to recoup to break even... absurd.

The second fact, which quite amused me, was that because of the lack of foresight on the part of the nice folk who built England's (and presumably Ireland's) train infrastructure, we can only have trains of a certain height (too low) and width (not wide enough). Anything in excess of what they thought we would need in the 1800's would simply scrape off the sides of tunnels etc. resulting in what we can only presume would be a rough journey. That is why everyone trains often feel far too cramped...

So there you are, 2 interesting train related facts.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Images from the road 8

Washington DC, Obama in his limo leaving the back of the Whitehouse. It was followed by about 30 blacked out SUV's (oddly enough I'm not exaggerating).
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Rants

In the last short while I have been hearing a few stories about Ryanair and Aerlingus in various newspapers and radio programs and the like and unfortunately for you I can hold my silence no longer!

Unfortunately these issues drive me so up the wall that I don’t think I can put them together in a coherent flowing manner, so in place of a well written article, I present to your a series of points that have been grinding my gears for the last while.

1. People saying have to support Aer Lingus “because they are Irish”
This one is particularly stupid as it tends to be used most often in conversations that also make reference to the Ryanair vs Aer Lingus debate. To WHAT extent could Aer Lingus be considered any more Irish than Ryanair? Is it because the planes have a green colour scheme? Because the tail fin has a shamrock on it? Because they were a (but are now a failed) airline set up by the state? I really don't know...

Now correct me if I’m wrong but Ryanair is Irish too, and rather than being a dismal financial failure like other (unnamed...) Irish airlines Ryanair is turning a profit in a time when all around them are doing poorly.
Also Ryanair is Europe’s biggest airline in terms of passengers, so why aren’t people supporting a Irish company that has become the leading force in European aviation, a globally impressive example of how Ireland can take on the big players and win. This make my little brain angry.

A quick scan around the board room of the two airlines would also be advisable to those who are emotionally attached to the “Irish element” of Aer Lingus. CEO of Ryanair = Michael O Leary, a successful Irish businessman – CEO of Aer Lingus = Cristoph Mueller, a successful German businessman.

2. People thinking Ryanair owe them anything
Watchdog, the BBC consumer issues programme contained a piece on how Ryanair were to double the cost of checking in baggage on planes, and do away with manned check in desks starting in the near future.

Members of the audience were asked what they thought about it and as per usual the usual assortment of anti-Ryanair folk chipped in their 2 cents about how awful it was, that Mr. O’Leary could do such things. They then had a satellite conversation with O’Leary who told the audience, and viewers of the programme, that he basically couldn’t care less if they didn’t want to fly with his airline, there would be 67million people willing to take their seat.

Why do people feel that Micheal O’Leary and Ryanair owe them anything? They don’t owe you cheap flights, cheap added extras, cheap anything. They are a business, and a successful one, not a charity.

More to come on this later in part 2... I must go calm down somewhere nice and quiet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

They weren't going to miss out on this one

More thoughts about Ryanair on the way soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Images from the road 7

Ireland Park, Toronto
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Death rates of various diseases visualised

Well I think the graphic below offers an insight into how unbelievably over the top the hype and hysteria surrounding swine flu has been. I have personally become very, very sick (not of any type of flu) of the whole thing and wish the newspapers, news channels and general public would stop giving it so much coverage.

Take a little look at the graph below and make your own minds up about what you want to be afraid of. (You may need to click on it to make it a reasonable size for viewing)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Job hunting in a recession

Here is a presentation from the presentation/career guru Mr. Rowan Manahan on how to hunt for jobs in a recession. Well worth a look!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cheating with charts

Great post at the Duarte Blog (found here) about how people cheat with the charts to make information fit with their version of events.

By simply manipulating the length and height of axis units you can tell what look like very different stories. As Duarte describe it:

"The flexible grid: One of the easiest ways to give more or less movement to the trend of a curve is to expand or contract the horizontal or vertical axis of the chart. The chart below shows a correctly scaled trend and six ways the visual image changes by expanding or contracting the grid layout."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Slideshare competition - How did I get on?

Well the 2009 Slideshare competition is coming to an end, the public vote is now over and the control is now in the hands of the very qualified judges (including one Mr. Guy Kawasaki - who as you might know is a good friend of mine that is to say I met him once).

So how did my presentations do in the public voting I hear you ask with baited breath... well Let me tell you...
Out of the 3,000 entries I had presentations that placed @ 9th, 60th, 94th, 153rd and 167th (all in the top 5.5% for you stats people out there).

I am pretty happy with how I got on although I do realise that the public voting didn't always reflect the quality of the presentations so I will leave it to the judges to decide if any of mine were actually any good!

If you voted for me, thank you, if not... damn you :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Steve Jobs: Back in action (for now)

Well Steve Jobs is officially back in action with Apple and he took to the stage this week to launch a few new (but very minor) products.

I am happy to see Steve back on stage again, but I must say that he still doesn't look, or sound, like a particularly well man which makes me a little sad.

Below are two pics of Steve, at the top is one of when he was healthy (albeit a tad overweight), below this we have Steve Jobs in Sept 2009, I think he looks very very frail and if I was an Apple shareholder I might be getting a tad worried.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Images from the road 6

At the edge of Niagara Falls
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

A gutsy pitch

I read an interesting piece in the great book “The Definitive business pitch” regarding a rather unorthodox and gutsy pitch given to British Rail management in the 1980’s.

The managements at British Rail were holding a day of pitches to try and identify the best marketing agency for their requirements. At the end of the day the final agency hadn’t shown up for their slot...

After 10 minutes had gone by and there were no sign of the presenters the management present decided that enough was enough and started to get out of their seats in somewhat of a “huff”.

It was at that moment that the agency team – who had been waiting outside – strolled into the room... “We know how your customers feel” and by this stage so too did the management: left waiting, with no information and staff who seem uninterested.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aer Lingus - Debt tripled in 1st half 2009

From RTE business news:
"Management at Aer Lingus say the outlook for the airline is highly uncertain following publication of the latest financial results.

The company has also said it can no longer afford to pay what was described as 'legacy-style' pay rates to staff.

Losses at the airline have tripled to €93m in the first half of the year."

Perhaps Aer Lingus should call it a day and stop keeping up the illusion that they can turn the airline afloat... what's that noise? I think I hear Michael O'Leary knocking at the door...

Images from the road 5

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Alternative Big Mac Index

The Economist magazine recently produced what it calls "the alternative Big Mac index" , it details how long the average worker, weighted across 14 industries, must work in order to afford the price of a Big Mac at local prices.
Interesting stuff, I wouldn't fancy working for 6 days like the average worker in Nairobi. Does that mean Big Macs are essentially fine cuisine there?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The problem with pies

The editor of "Simple Complexity" found at http://simplecomplexity.net/ came up with a very strong argument as to why pie charts are not always the best way to go when trying to put across numbers, and are actually quite misleading at times due to the fact that our poor little brains aren't all that good at judging the areas of the various segments.

Check out the pie chart below, take a second to work out for yourself how the segments rank from highest to lowest.

It's not all that easy is it? Now check out the dot chart below and try and do the same ranking exercise.Which is easier to understand? the vast majority of people will find making sense of the numbers involved in the dot chart. Both charts show the same numbers and are as follows A = 25, C = 21, D = 18, E = 10, F = 10.

Very nice example of why some charts can be innappropriate in some situations.

For more gems head to http://simplecomplexity.net/

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nine A1's in the leaving

Only one student achieved 9 A1's in the leaving cert this year.

Behold the face of Ireland's (nerdy) future!

Aer Lingus numbers improve - not enough for Ryanair

The Irish Times recently published an article on increased Aer Lingus passenger numbers for July... Ryanair's Head of communications Stephan McNamara wasn't going to let this one go unchallenged.

Here is his letter to the Irish Times:

Madam, – I am contacting you in relation to the large article which appeared in your business section (“Aer Lingus passenger numbers rise 8.2 per cent”, August 11th). There was no reference to Ryanair’s passenger numbers for July, which reported growth of 19 per cent to over 6.7 million passengers.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, is one of only a few indigenous companies to lead its sector in Europe and it is worrying that our July passenger numbers, which were six times those of Aer Lingus and detailed our remarkable and newsworthy July growth, were overlooked by The Irish Times.

While I do not expect any editorial favour to be shown to Ryanair I request that our good news stories be given the same consideration and space in your business pages as those of other leading Irish companies or small regional airlines such as Aer Lingus. – Yours, etc,


Head of Communications,


Dublin Airport,

Co Dublin.

Images from the road 4

Calgary Skyline, some small animals footprints in the foreground
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Me & Google Earth

Another entry for the Slideshare competition

Images from the road 3


Ballard, Seattle
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Worlds Best Presentation Contest

Well I have a small favour to ask any readers of this blog with Slideshare accounts. I am entering this years "World's best presentation competition" over at Slideshare.net and need your vote!
The presentation in question is below and if you click through to here http://www.slideshare.net/edfk/why-statistics-need-context you can give me a vote... Pleeeeease.

Thanks in advance

Pharmacy situation getting ugly

According the the Irish Independent the Pharmacy situation is becoming a bit sinister, an article in today's paper starts "Garda protection drafted in as pharmacy row turns ugly".
It would seem disgruntled pharmacy owners have been turning up to the temporary dispensing centres and abusing the staff there... Pharmacists have obviously commenced foot shooting in earnest.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Michael O'Leary's finest quotations

Although I will aknowledge he is not everyones cup of tea I have to admit that I quite like his quite "to the point" way of speaking. Below is a presentation I put together detailing a short selection of his finest remarks.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Man on Wire

Phillipe Petit walked a tightrope between the 2 WTC buildings in 1974. Pretty epic...

Irish Pharmacists - Shooting themsleves in the foot

This week roughly half of the pharmacies in Ireland are planning to stop dispensing medicine to those with medical card as a form of protest against the governments proposed cut in their fees.

To me this seems like the most ill thought out protest possible, and will result in the public having a VERY sour attitude towards their local pharmacy, and perhaps will expose the somewhat cut throat nature of the "local friendly pharmacist".

What tomorrows actions mean is the following - elderly people who need their medicine will have to travel around and find a pharmacy willing to give them their medicine "Can I have my heart medicine so I can stay alive?" - "No they are cutting the margin on that slightly so I don't want to give that to you", very sick people will not know for certain whether they can get medicine they need... I'm not sure that's how you get the public on your side.

Furthermore, pharmacies who do stay open will poach customers from the ones that are protesting, For example: "Boots Ireland has confirmed that all its pharmacies across the country will remain open for business to dispense a full pharmacy service from August 1. Boots will continue to dispense all medicine schemes to ensure customers ‘are not disadvantaged’"
... That is how you win customers and keep them.

The IPU are shooting themselves in the foot here, rather than protecting small pharmacies they are going to be driving people to the larger ones and indirectly killing off the smaller guys. Bravo IPU. Should be an interesting week

Saturday, August 1, 2009

iPhone apps - overated? (Yes)

I have to say I am becoming a little sick "bright shiny object" syndrome that has struck a large portion of the marketing community regarding iPhone apps. My two favorite statistics about the apps are below.

In the US the market share (in terms of handsets) is currently at 2.4%... When you are developing apps with the intention of using them as advertising vehicles 2.4% is not a very large target to be aiming for. While I acknowledged that this share will rise, Apple will never own the entire market - you will always be aiming for a portion - rather than all - of phone users.

Now, once you have reached your 2.4% of the market, or whatever % it may be, you must now contend with the fact that the chances are that people will not use it more than once. The numbers above tell the story quite well.

With poor reach, poor usage, and questionable value-for-advertising-dollars I am not very positive about the marketing potential of iPhone apps.
(By the way I do acknowledge there are some useful fun apps out there, some, and I am talking about this from a marketing perspective)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fox "News" - Not a fan of Amsterdam

Below is an amazingly funny video that I came across by way of "pharma gossip" blog. It was made by an Amsterdam native who was a little bit upset with how Fox "news" described his home city. According to Fox news "Amsterdam is a cesspool of corruption, crime, everything is out of control, its anarchy"

The video is a witty rebuttal and proves a point by using a few key statistics.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Images from the road 2

Up Cypress Mt. - Vancouver
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Assault on Canadian healthcare continued

I put together a nice little graph below using OECD and CIA figures on average health spend per person and average life expectancy, I realise the two are probably not perfectly related, but maybe they should include these in their pathetic little advert.

When you are spending almost double -but not getting better results than - who you are insulting... you may want to think again?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ridiculous attack on Government run health care - take that Canada

US media is ridiculous at the best of times, but now they have been able to combine stupid adverts with a sill disliking of anything that can even slightly resemble anything close to socialism... In the firing line now: Public Health Care.

I find it greatly amusing that "patientsunitenow.com"s supposed poster child of "Bad Health care" is Canada... which boasts far better health care records than the US...

Here is the advert I am ranting about, have a look and be astonished.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Irish rail - On track

I know its all the rage these days to be critical of all things state run in Ireland, especially supposed shortcomings in transport.

But I must say that I think some very impressive changes have taken place in terms of inter city transport, that cannot be ignored. Recently I took an Irish Rail train down to "the Kingdom" of Kerry, and to be honest I was rather surprised at how nice the whole experience is...
Gone are the days of the hulking orange trains with seats as comfortable as granite, now Irish Rail boast of fleet of pretty damn modern and comfortable trains which offer a pretty comfy ride.
The trains are also fairly nippy and as an added bonus the seemingly run ON TIME!

If you would like to see a contrast to this take a little trip over to the US of A and have a peek at their equivalent "Amtrak", the trains are outdated and rickety, as slow as push bikes and furthermore judging by the constant swaying and bumping of the carriages they haven't even lay the tracks down properly.

So I think we should all give Irish Rail a round of applause... I know I will *starts clapping*

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Images from the Road 1

Shouldn't we have bins like this?
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Monday, July 20, 2009

A matter of phraseology

Is it all a matter of phraseology

"cold, dead fish - low on parasites"



Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

USA, Sports and Presidents

You better be good at sports if you want to be deemed a good president in America. Poor Mr. Obama's baseball pitching skills have come under scrutiny after this video

The video has prompted fairly amazing comments from some viewers such as "Why can people not see what this guy is , he is a fraud ,the sad thing is, we are a country without a leader"... Jeez harsh, just because he throws like a girl?

He can however shoot some hoops!

No more to take