Shotgun Approach

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Presentation, Writing

My wife thinks I’m crazy.

When I tell her all the things I’m trying to include in my presentation, she thinks it’s too much.

  • Game theory
  • Texting
  • Video Chat acting
  • Virtual puppetry
  • Powerpoint
  • Cellphone cameras

When I look at it I think: “Maybe she’s right”.  Trying to display all of this stuff effectively is an incredibly daunting task.  When I think about all the things I have to juggle, it feels like organized chaos.  I start thinking “What if I just focused on one of these technologies?  What if I put all my eggs in a single digital basket?”

But then I breathe a remember Steve Jobs.  See Steve I’m gonna come out on stage in the black turtleneck and jeans looking like Jobs, not just because it’s a funny visual, but because of the way he presents his stuff.  His keynote speeches are always filled with multiple gadgets, software, hardware and services.  He launches into each one of them, gives us an overview of the problem is solves in our life (Real or imagined), does a short demonstration then moves on.  The effect of this, in my opinion is three fold:

  • One, each product is not demonstrated not to it’s fullest capabilities, but rather to showcase the potential it holds.  Steve plays one song on his new ipod, not all 10,000 of them.  He leaves the other 9,999 for our imagination and our library of songs.  What would we put in his new device.
  • He presents a myriad of products during each keynote, rather than focus on one single amazing device.  This ensures that if any one item he’s displaying doesn’t interest or is problematic to a person, a new item quickly replaces it.  Any dissent on one item cannot bring down the totality of the products displayed.  There’s something for everyone.
  • By displaying a myriad of items at in rapid fashion he subverts the uniqueness of any one individual product for an overall message about the company and it’s vision: “Apple products are the cool, sleek future.”  That is the most important subliminal theme that he must maintain.  When AppleTV failed to take off, it was never seen as a failure.  Because it was always couched among other, successful products, it never tipped over that overarching message.  Steve himself later conceded that Apple TV was merely “A hobby” and everyone accepted that because the uber-message trumped that minor setback.

It’s this last idea that I think epitomizes what I’m striving for in my presentation.  By not focusing on any one technology, I instead keep the purity of my message, that theatre and technology can and must co-exist.  Each demonstration becomes a piece of evidence that mounts toward my overall point.  Thus, even if one or more doesn’t live up to my promise, the goal is that the audience will see past that and take the whole of the evening into consideration when deciding the merit of my message.

The downfall of this strategy is if too many of the technologies fail.  More than two ideas peter out it pulls down the rest of them.  Even if the other demonstrations over perform, the possibility that the audience could view all this as a failure is exponentially large with multiple problems.

Someone told my wife before our wedding, “Expect at least one big thing to go wrong.”  If it’s just one, then I can handle it.  If it’s more, then we’re in for an interesting night.



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