Some months ago I watched this TED talk on YouTube. The key concept that Taiye aimed to share is a powerful description of the century we live in: we should be more interested in where people are local rather than where they—or their family, for that matter—are from.
During the last WordCamp Europe I met so many people. Since it’s a conference where local communities gather in one place, The where are you from? question is a popular conversation opener.
In this occasion, I forced myself to ask everyone I met where are you based? in any instance where Where are you from? would have been a legitimate question. The answers I got have been remarkably diverse: some people told me where they live, some added where they are from, some told me where they have lived in the past, some told me where they’ll relocate soon.
We have no control over the town or country we are from. We have the power to influence and shape and build so many aspects of our life: let’s focus on that.
Vienna—whose duty to organise this year’s edition was publicly announced at the end of WCEU 2015 in Seville—is already experiencing an abnormal flow of WordPress enthusiasts from all over the world. Make sure you keep an eye open in coffee shops and co-working spaces (or interesting cross-overs between the two of them): we like showing off our passion with t-shirts, stickers on our laptops, someone even tattoos.
Of course I’ll be there with the awesome crew from Human Made, ready to hug everyone I know and meet everyone I don’t.
I have a special relationship with WordCamp Europe. WCEU 2013—the first WCEU—was my first WordCamp ever, and as Italian and co-founder of Italia WP Community, I cannot stress enough how much important WCEU has been for us.
2015 has been a big year for social media. Periscope and Snapchat exploded, Instagram became incredibly valuable for products and Twitter have been struggling to grow its user base.
In 2016 the industry will keep evolving and renovating itself with its usual speed: predicting what’s next in the industry is, at best, problematic. That’s why I’m sharing a wish list for 2016 – trends, practices and features – rather than predictions. There’s a lot to be excited about, so let’s dive in.
Tweople: More personal stuff!
When you tweet something out, don’t be afraid to add your personal touch, whether it’s yours or other people’s content. A comment, a quote from the tweet, an image that reflects what you’re sharing. Here’s what I believe is a good example:
If I tweeted only a post title, link and hashtag, it would have been just another tweet in the stream. Instead, I’ve sacrificed the post title, added a quote from the post, highlighted the real meaning of the post (the author’s view on a topic), and inserted an image – taken from the post itself – that echoes the topic.
I also wish people sent out less thank-you tweets to multiple handles. Simply put, when you thank people in bulk, what you’re saying is I don’t have time to tell you something meaningful. It might work from a quantity point of view – new followers, new notifications, Klout score going up and other vanity metrics – but doesn’t really add anything relevant. There’s a lot of things you can do instead, i.e. connecting with less people but starting real conversations, intro’ing them to other people that can be interested in their content, and so on.
Less #latergram and #throwback on Instagram
From a product marketing point of view, Instagram has the attention of a pretty good number of people, so the strategies that brands are using to connect with their prospects must include a wide array of visual content.
When it comes to people, I like thinking of Instagram as a real-time tool. People, in fact, are still brands: if I follow them, they have my attention. That’s why I like to learn what they are doing now, not what they used to look like when they were 16.
Less cliché pics
Laptop and coffee. Chicken with avocado. A cat with big, beautiful eyes. We got it, you are a coffee drinker that works remotely, eats healthy food and enjoys the company of a lovely pet.
As working from coffee shops and eating less sugar become more mainstream, there’s nothing unique or inspiring in those pictures anymore.
When I see someone showing off the lack of grey office walls in their life, I’d love to know what they’re actually doing, what tool they’re using and why, how they’re solving problems. Every time I stumble upon the picture of a salad I want to know what’s inside. The social media game shouldn’t be about you, it’s about the audience.
Less motivational crap
The brutal truth about these “motivational” quotes is that they’re created and posted because they’re excellent at capturing likes and followers. That’s it. Nothing more.
You don’t need those cheap, cheesy and one-size-fits-all posts. Whatever you’re trying to do with your life. In a bad mood? Feeling a lack of motivation? Look for real stories. Luckily for us the Internet offers so many places to share success stories and things that work (looking at you, Medium.com).
More television-like experiences on YouTube
As both smart TVs and Chromecasts (or the Apple TVs for that matter) become more popular, YouTube offers a remarkable opportunity to all those media producers, podcasters and film-makers out there to host their shows, publish their documentaries and distribute short movies, episodic shows and even independent, full-length films.
YouTube is full of talented people, but sometimes it’s hard to know where and how to find them. I really wish to see a significant improvement both in the YouTube homepage and in the YouTube iOS app that makes it easy for everyone to discover new content.
Special mention to 360° videos, which I’d love to see more often during 2016.
Instagram: let us switch between multiple accounts!
For many social media managers, having the ability to switch from their personal to their professional / business account would save so much time. Apparently Instagram is testing this feature on Android, so there’s a big chance to see this happening within the next 12 months. Personally, I can’t wait.
What are you looking forward to seeing on social media in 2016?
Let’s face it: we’ve all seen slides that suck. Business meetings, sales pitches, conferences, you name it, someone brought a terrible deck with poor colour contrast and tons of text, maybe written in Papyrus or C**** S***.
Luckily those days seem to be over, or at least close to their end. At the last conferences I’ve been to I’ve mostly seen good slides, even from not-designers – slide design is an art on its own: it requires a fairly wide variety of skills (communication, psychology, design itself), and needs you to be familiar with software you wouldn’t use on any other situation.
These are some nice tricks I’ve recently discovered while working on my presentations. The overall idea is to help the audience focus on things that matter. Great slides support your story without stealing too much attention, and are easy to remember and understandable at a glance.
Play with opacity
Let’s assume you have a slide with a full-screen image, followed by some content about it.
This is our team at Human Made.
This is the following slide, containing our logo and some information about us:
Here’s an improved version of the second slide. It features the same text, but has the previous image on the background, with opacity set at 33% and your deck branding colour behind:
33% is a number that feels most of the time right to me, but it’s not a rule. Play with your image and see if you need a lighter or darker effect.
The transition is quite smooth and pleasant:
Use the no-shift effect
You may have two slides that look almost the same except for some details. Here’s the idea: duplicate the slide (cmd+D in Keynote) and edit only the piece of content that actually changes.
Let’s get back to the previous sequence, and let’s say we’ve got another slide with more information on Human Made, i.e. some products we have built:
The transition highlights the new information.
Respect brand guidelines
If you look at the previous slides, you will notice that I haven’t typed in Human Made or our products’ names. Instead, I’ve dropped logo files in Keynote and adjusted size and position. Let’s do the same when we mention external brands.
Many products these days have brand guidelines on their site. Here’s Slack brand guidelines for instance, and that’s a really good example of a company explaining how to use their brand assets.
Look at the difference between these two slides:
Whilst the first one may follow your deck branding in terms of fonts, there’s no doubt that the latter stands out more. Logos are designed for people to remember them, and the visual support for a presentation has pretty much the same goal. Take advantage of brand guidelines to increase the chances your audience remember and recognise the object of your slide.
The folks at Slack also explain when to use the coloured logo or when to opt for the white or black monochromatic version instead:
The colored version of the Slack hash logo can ONLY be used on a white background. If you are using the Slack logo on any other background color, use either the black or white monochrome logo.
Brand guidelines are not just annoying requests product people make. Think of them as reasonable design decisions they’ve taken for you.
I really look forward to reading your feedback on these points. Although I’ve spoken quite a few times over the last year, I’m still working on improving every aspect of public speaking. However, if there’s one thing that is clear to me, is that a slide deck you’re happy with design-wise has a huge impact on your confidence and therefore your delivery.
I’ve recently spoken at the Surf Office meetup in London.
Surf Office is one of the most famous remote working-related experiments out there: it’s a place that combines workspace, accommodation and surf, with currently three locations (Gran Canaria, California, Lisbon). If you’re one of those human beings that can work from anywhere, or if your startup is looking for a nice spot where to host a retreat/hackathon, you should definitely check it out and get in touch with them.
This guest post I’ve written for their blog summarises the main points of the talk, and expands on some questions I’ve received afterwards.
And here’s the slide deck. I’m quite proud of the design, with the same font combo of the Sofia deck but richer in visual elements (pictures and colours). Unfortunately, looks like Speaker Deck made it a lot darker than it was originally.
Last WordCamp of the year, for me, in Sofia (Bulgaria).
Here’s the video of my talk. The feedback I received was remarkably positive, people were interested on the subject and follow up a lot afterwards on social media and email. Looks like the people of Sofia loved me almost as much as I love them. It’s so great to get the chance to visit Bulgaria.
And here are the slides. For this deck I chose to go with almost no images, some emojis, a minimal colour combination that I really liked, and a couple of fonts that I think will become a staple on my slides.
So you want to get started with public speaking, huh? One year ago I was at the same point. Did I have something to share? Yes. Did I have an audience? Maybe, big cities have enough meetups. Was public speaking really that scary? More than death.
During 2015 (and my entire life) I’ve given nine talks. I’ll get to ten before the end of the year (no further details yet). Can’t say I’m an expert yet, but the feedback I’ve gotten so far has always been on the positive side.
If you’re asking “How did you manage to get from zero to nine with no prior experience?” and want to follow in my footsteps, here’s my golden rule: get yourself a couple of mentors.
Someone who tells you what you need to hear, looks at your slides and explains you why they’re not ok, listens to your practice sessions and tells you what’s wrong with your delivery, is sitting in the audience then tells you what you’ll need to improve before the next time – even when everyone else seem to have loved you and your talk.
You won’t relax, practice more or realise what the real source of the fear is because you read it on some blog. Read a couple of good books on the subject (Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo seems to be the industry standard), and have someone tell you the brutal truths you deserve. Accept them, fix the mistakes, repeat what was successful.
Do you know when you take a look back at the resolutions you’ve made before the year kicked off and then realise you’ve failed them all? I’ve lost the count of how many times it happened to me. I think we’re pretty close to 30.
Anyway, this year I’ve decided to do things seriously. Instead of making a silly list with 10+ impossible intentions, I came up with only three precise and feasible resolutions:
My #ResolutionsFor2015: – Get better with coding. – Build and launch a new product. – Get into public speaking. That is all.
As a result, February just began and I can already say that I have succeeded with one. Last Thursday I have spoken at the WordPress London Meetup about user support as a growth tool for online products and tech startups, and in less than a week I’m going to give some tips for good tech support at the WordCamp Norway, this time in the lightning talk / PechaKucha format.