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I’ve been crazy busy prepping for my Euro IA keynote, so I’ll keep things short and sweet this week. ⚡
This week I am “attending” the Euro IA conference. The theme is one of hope, as is my talk (“Hopeful and Powerless? Design in a Crisis”). I’ll share more in the near future, but here are some things I found useful. First, if you’re struggling personally with hope, both of these articles, “9 Types of Hopelessness and How to Overcome Them” and “A Real Dose of Hope When You’re Feeling Hopeless” offered some good, specific tips. For a different take on this topic, I’ve really enjoyed the book Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, which speaks more to activism and what it means to have hope during frustrating circumstances.
Over in Slack, I’m going to leave last week’s Question of the Week up another week, as… well, I’m loving all the responses! I asked you to share a favorite map (with the instructions to interpret that word ‘map’ however liberally you wish!). If you’re a member, go check out some of the responses (and add your own!).
To add some fuel to this discussion, here are a few things I’ve recently saved related to maps: Federico Italiano shares some beautiful and fascinating (historic) maps. And here’s a wonderful essay from Anne-Laure Le Cunff on “Thinking in maps: from the Lascaux caves to knowledge graphs”.
On (Virtual) Icebreakers
Over on twitter, Jeff Gothelf asks “What are the best, most interesting or fun icebreakers you’ve experienced or used in your online meetings, webinars and workshops so far?” Check out the responses, as there are several good ideas.
“In video meetings it’s a hassle to unmute just to say one word especially if someone else is speaking.” remarks Cameron Hunter. In the past, I’ve opined about a set of printed signs, cards, cutouts, etc. that could be used to liven up our online meetings. Well, here’s a clever (digital) hack that combines gestures with set of comic book style messages! For those of you who prefer something more tangible, check out Supercards and DigiCards™.
On Managing During the Pandemic
I enjoyed this HBR article “Don’t Just Lead Your People Through Trauma. Help Them Grow”. After a bit of a preamble, the author offers two specific pieces of advice, around (1) values-based leadership and (2) attention to community. Strands of the article—where the author comments on how “survivors experience increased well-being after trauma”—reminded me of what I mused on last week when I discussed being more intentional with our relationships. Silver linings?
I poured all of my personal musings into my Euro IA keynote. All 8,492 words. 😜
But… getting ‘meta’ for a second, I wanted to share two observations I’ve made about the act of creating a talk:
1. Switching mediums helps you see your content in a fresh way.
My typical talk preparation process goes something like this: I’ll spend months using a single Keynote file as a sort of scrap box for anything and everything related to the talk topic (interesting factoid: for the 100 or so slides that make it into one of my presentations, there are typically another 200 or so that never make the cut!). A few weeks before the talk, I’ll start moving slides around, indenting and nesting slides to start forming a structure, and so on. However, with the last few talks I’ve created, I found myself so overwhelmed by the breadth of content, that writing the entire talk transcript out, from top to bottom, proved to be a preferable way to organize my thoughts. But, the observation here isn’t about the pros + cons of different mediums. Rather, I find it interesting how simply switching between slides and writing changes my relationship with the content. There’s a different kind of thinking that happens in writing as opposed to slide creation as opposed to… As it gets closer to the day, I’ll find myself ‘ping-ponging’ back and forth, between slides and transcript, as each of these modalities informs the other.
Oh, and something similar happens with these emails. I write them in Bear, and spot a bunch of things. I copy the text into Buttondown, and spot new things. I send a test copy to myself in Gmail, and spot even more things I’ve missed. 🤨
2. My rich, visual style is (in part) a crutch.
I have a reputation for rich, visual, slide design. Yes, I do this because I favor clear visual explanations. But, this also hides a handicap. I can’t memorize lines to save my life. And I cannot read from a script without sounding incredibly stilted. But, if I can insert just enough of a trigger—visual or written—then I’ll remember that point, remark, or factoid I don’t want to slip away from my poor memory. Where other speakers might be able to tell a story to one image on a single slide, for me to tell the same story might take several slides, each serving as a trigger or reminder to not forget some tiny detail! I think this became obvious for me as I found myself reading over my transcript, and thinking (consciously) about how I would ‘remind’ myself to not forget specific points.
Anyway… Random, personal, meta-reflections.
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg