January 26, 2009

Why Do Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey use Overhead Transparencies?

An overhead projector? That's what Brian Tracy used when I saw him last. You know, where you write on clear plastic transparencies. This came as a surprise. At previous keynotes, he just spoke.

I've never used overheads. No one does.

That's not quite true. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, did the last three times I've seen him.

Live drawings create a sense of anticipation. Energy. Spontaneity. You see a creation made right before your eyes. Much more powerful than the usual prepared PowerPoint presentations.

Live Drawings
How else can you make a live drawing? On a whiteboard or flipchart, if available. But ...
  • you have your back to the audience
  • you're harder to hear (you're further away)
  • your drawings may be hard to read (poor lighting, too small, poor colour choices)
  • small canvas with a flipchart
  • dried out pens or illegible colours like red or orange
The Classic Solution
Though "old-fashioned", an overhead provides an elegant solution. You face the audience, which makes you easy to hear, your drawings fill the illuminated screen, you have a canvas the size of an 8.5"x11" page. Even colours like red stand out. The transparencies give an record of your session. Granted, flipcharts do too, but try photocopying them.

Your pens can still dry out, though. Maybe getting ink on your hands is a problem too.
We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. --- CS Lewis
Few meeting rooms have overhead projectors for transparencies anymore. Too bad. We've lost something. Such is progress.


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