Garr Reynolds Wisdom, Part II

This is Part II in a two-part series. Part I was published on 24-Jan.

Another one from Guy and Garr

Question: What is the single most important thing people could do to enhance their presentations?

Answer: Turn off the computer, grab some paper and a pencil, and find someplace quiet. Think of the audience. What is it they need? What is it you want to say that they need to hear. Identify what’s important and what is not. You can’t say everything in a twenty-minute talk—or even a two-hour talk.

The problem with most presentations is that people try to include too much. You can go deep or you can go wide, but you can’t really do both. What is the core message? This time “off the grid” with paper and pencil or a white board is where you can clarify your ideas and then get them on paper visually. After your ideas and basic structure are clear, then you can open up the software and start laying out the story in the slide sorter view.

Replace the word “presentations” above with “software” and the same great advice holds, I think.

Certainly the part about turning off your computer and spending some time thinking about what your audience needs and considers important, as tempting as it is to jump straight in and start coding.

But the real gem here in my opinion is the observation that you can go deep or wide but not both.

Just like presentations I think that most people building software try to include too much. Adding more features is a natural inclination. It’s actually ingrained in the social order of software developers – within teams enhancing existing features never seems to have the same status as adding something new. But, it should.

Can you have both the most features and be the easiest to use?

When you look around there are not many examples of software products which have achieved this.

So which of these two alternatives are you choosing, consciously or otherwise?

3 comments on “Garr Reynolds Wisdom, Part II

  1. […] « 747s vs Kayaks Garr Reynolds Wisdom, Part II […]

  2. Andrew says:

    I’m reading the long tail at the moment, where the tagline is:

    “Infinite supply creates infinite demand”.

    I’m wondering if this relates to software. Provide more and more features and you reach more and more people who will each use different niche features.

    I’m not advocating this, but its an interesting way of looking at some of the larger apps, like the Office suite, which go for width and depth.

    At the end of the day, its quantity of users that will pay the bills, not a few users having a higher quality experience.

  3. John Clegg says:

    Another link you might find useful

    http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jan2008/sb20080125_269732.htm

    – How to deliver a presentation like Steve Jobs

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