It Is All in the Story You Tell
In 2014, I took the challenge to introduce Mindfulness to the staff at my school. I had been meditating for a while, and I was inspired by a recent two-day retreat geared towards educators. I wanted to share with staff how it had helped me and how this practice could help them with their well-being and their everyday challenges. I had an hour to inspire and hopefully start a great practice among my coworkers. I remember that in planning for the presentation, I wanted to do something simple, bare-bones, to match the idea of the simplicity of meditation. Therefore, I thought the best option was Haiku Deck: it didn’t allow a lot of text, and it had beautiful preset layouts for the slides.
Mindfulness – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Looking back at this presentation, I was shocked to see the amount of information I packed into each slide — and realized that I usually do that. My belief has been that the slide presentation should be a document that stands on its own. So, I often created eBooks instead of focusing on the images to support my narrative. The aha moment here: why would people want to come to my presentation if they could have the eBook later? Thanks to Garr Reynolds and his blog, From design to meaning: a whole new way of presenting, I see the many aspects where I went wrong when starting to design the presentation.
“Design starts at the beginning not at the end; it’s not an afterthought. It’s during the preparation stage that you slow down and “stop your busy mind” so that you may consider your topic and your objectives, your key messages, and your audience.” — Garr Reynolds
My objective was to motivate teachers to start meditating; however, I spent too much time explaining the research that it had been done to justify the benefits of meditation. I never made it more personal; I never told my story about why I started the practice. At the end of the presentation, I led a walking meditation for about 10 minutes, but we had little time afterward to debrief the session. After the presentation, there were a few teachers that became interested and talked to me about it; however, I don’t think my presentation was memorable.
So, if I could go back in time, I would use the new presentation below where I would include my personal story and why meditation had worked for me. I would tell that in 2010, I read the book by Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, which motivated me to start meditating. It was at the same time as when my family and I moved to Marrakech, Morocco. My daughters were small, and we experienced huge changes in our lives. We didn’t understand the language, the food was very different, and my daughters missed Ecuador. It was tough! So, we began as a family to meditate every night, and, even though my daughters and husband weren’t as convinced, I continued my practice — on and off — until this day.
With more years of experience, now I know that people usually find meditation hard because they have the misconception that they should clear their mind, therefore, they quickly feel unsuccessful and quit. So I would focus more on unpacking what happens during the actual meditation. I also know there are many aspects that get in the way when trying to establish new healthy habits in our lives. Otherwise, everyone would eat better, exercise, and sleep more without too much hassle.
The new presentation has more pictures an less text. It is meant to support what I would say during the presentation. I followed David JP Phillips’ advice on his TEDTalk, How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint:
Focus on one message per slide
Use contrast to steer focus
Use size to emphasize
Avoid using sentences if speaking at the same time
Have a dark background
Use maximum of six objects per slide
Any additional feedback on what I would need to add or change in this new presentation?