How constraints stimulate creativity

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Lecture 3, How constraints stimulate creativity.039.jpg

Lecture 3, How constraints stimulate creativity.040.jpg

Lecture 3, How constraints stimulate creativity.041.jpg

Next week, each of you will give a brief presentation using the 'Takahashi method'. I first learned about this approach through a the 'Presentation Zen' blog, which featured a short post about the method and a nice story about its development.

For your version, I'd like you to focus on one important idea related to your research. Because you'll only have 5 minutes to give your presentation, you'll need to select an idea that is sufficiently narrow to be discussed briefly but is also also accessible to non-experts (the rest of us). Please try your best to respect the constraints of the format: one idea, 20 (big) words, 5 minutes.

Can I use colors, gradients, backgrounds, or other visual flourishes?
Earlier today, Keith emailed me to ask "I'm writing for clarification regarding the use of font properties for next week's presentation. Do outlines, italics, fills (gradient, texture, image), or other adjustments to the font properties including using brackets or other punctuation overlook the purpose of the exercise?"

My short answer is that I'd prefer you to concentrate on (1) distilling one idea about your work that can be shared in only 5 minutes and (2) the choice of words that will help you reach that goal. If you're able to sort out those two issues to your satisfaction, feel free to experiment with design issues but try not to introduce any elements that will be too distracting. Keep it simple this time. You'll have the chance to unleash your inner designer very soon.

What font should I use?
I mentioned using 'standard' fonts can help avoid common formatting problems that plague presenters using PowerPoint or Keynote. You can scroll through a list of 'safe' fonts that are installed on all Windows or Mac machines right here. If you use construct your presentations using one of these fonts, you should be less likely to run into 'font problems'.

Where do I put my files?
I've just given all of you access to a shared folder on Google Drive. Please upload your presentations (either PowerPoint, Keynote, or PDFs) there no later than 6PM on Wednesday. Please remember to include your name in the file name (we don't want to end up with 12 files called 'Takahashi.ppt).

If you run into any problems uploading your file, just post a comment to this entry and we'll likely be able to fix it as a team.

Other jobs for next week
If you followed my suggestion and have a copy of 'Presentation Zen' (remember - better person!), please read Chapter 2 ('Creativity, Limitations, and Constraints) before our next meeting.

Also, at the beginning of next class, we'll have the opportunity to chat with Todd Reubold, who is the director of communications and public affairs for the Institute on the Environment. Todd is one of the driving forces behind IonE's online magazine Ensia, and has worked very hard to help scientists at Minnesota become more effective communicators. His presentation 'Fight The Power(Point)' has lit a spark under many of us here and elsewhere. Please look over his slide set (great visuals, bot no substitute for his in-the-flesh presentation) and come prepared to ask him questions about his experience creating science presentation superstars.

If you're curious what 421 slides in less than 40 minutes looks like, you can see for yourself here: Internet Is Freedom.

1 Comment

I asked Scott:
Two points of clarification... are we supposed to use only one word at
a time on a slide? What about repeating a word on consecutive slides
to build on it... for example:


climate change

His response:
Keeping in mind I won’t stop anyone’s presentation due to it having too many words, I’d suggest that:

“climate” is ok.
“change" is ok.
‘climate change” is not OK.

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This page contains a single entry by Scott St. George published on January 31, 2014 6:43 PM.

Communicating effectively was the previous entry in this blog.

We are visual animals is the next entry in this blog.

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