from Dean Meyers

Tell the tale, enrich it with detail

Good storytelling sometimes has nothing to do with the story itself, particularly if it’s a story so familiar we can tell it to ourselves. Here’s an example of great storytelling that isn’t about the story, a familiar chestnut of a fairy tale, but the way it’s told: with humor, simplicity, and a surprising amount of data visualization that might hang around in your mind even after the story is done.

picture-1Slagsmålsklubben – Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

Filed under: design, Storytelling, Visual Expression

Curiosity is the glue to a good story

istock_000004387778xsmall“What’s coming next?”

That’s the question you want every listener and every viewer to ask. You want edge-of-the-seat, gripping-the-chair attention. You want silence in the room as every eye is on you. If you’re using a whiteboard to make a presentation, you want everyone to get excited as you go to the board to draw the next chart, write the next big keyword, flip the page to make a point.

Beyond interest lies curiosity. That’s what drove humans to find better ways to hunt, explore new lands,  create art.

Examining your presentation, your graphic design, your next blog post, what evokes curiosity? Here are some tips:

1) Build the story. Give a setup: “here’s the situation, the problem”.

2) Describe the outcome that is hoped for.

3) Describe how you propose to make that happen.

Simple, right? So why do so many presentation go down the rabbit hole of too much detail and no end in sight? Good stories are about action. Create energy with action…what are the actions that will make your outcome happen?

Visual tips: cut down the bullet points and write action words. Use a picture instead of a word if you can find one.

And, perhaps my favorite suggestion, when you’re giving a talk or presenting with slides:

Take a breath and pause after you’ve hit a key point. Give it time to sink in. Create suspense by not rushing from slide to slide, from point to point, spewing out facts or running down a list.

Control the pace of your story, and you’ll create a lot of interest not only in the story you’re telling but in you, the storyteller. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Presentation Skills, social media, Storytelling, , ,

25 years later: Macintosh, metaphors and the mouse

The Macintosh computer turns 25 year old

The Macintosh computer turns 25 year old - an early print ad

A blog post on requested stories from those who were around in 1984 for the release of the Macintosh computer. At that time, I was the Sales and Tech Representative for Apple Computer for the Caribbean Region. Most of my job entailed introducing the new technology to both sales people and perspective customers.

First single-button mouse

First single-button mouse

Although we are all used to all kinds of input devices now, navigating with a mouse was actually pretty daunting for a lot of people at the time. Basic navigation with a mouse involves a kind of eye-hand coordination which, in 1984, was completely novel even for kids, who were using keyboards with up-down-left-right arrows to play games.

Visualization of mouse/GUI navigation

Visualization of mouse/GUI navigation

I spent a lot of time teaching the new Macintosh interface to adults, particularly school teachers and educators. The number one question was always, “What happens when I run out of room on my desk to move the mouse?” My routine answer was “lift the mouse, move your hand, lower the mouse back to the desk and move it again”. If experienced mousers think that sounds clunky, I assure you that it just befuddled grade-school teachers who spent most of the day with chalk or pen in hand.

I thought about how to break down the actions into something familiar: Lift, move, lower, move. Lift, move, lower…brush. I found the answer!

slide7The size and shape of a mouse wasn’t much different from that of  a brush. Most of us learn to use a hair brush as children, when we are first developing gross motor skills. Now I had found my common, real-world example of how to move the mouse to get around the screen based on something most people already know.  I could answer the “running out of room to navigate on the desk” question before it came up.


That Macintosh way of thinking, using visual/experiencial metaphors for everyday applications, has stuck with me since that lightbulb went off in my head 25 years ago. Is all of life just a GUI? Tell me your stories about making the leap of explaining the unfamiliar by using common experience.

Filed under: Storytelling, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Flickr Photos

Deanmeistr’s Tweets

August 2021