Recursive image used by Winston to demonstrate why not to use laser pointers in your presentations

I’ve lifted the title of this post from Patrick Winston’s short course, “How to Speak”. Winston was the director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and regularly gave this talk on presentation techniques. The video is available on MIT’s Open CourseWare Platform. The quote I’ve extracted below from Winston’s talk is one of the the most clear and compelling rationales I know of for caring deeply about “packaging”.

Anyway, I was sitting here, and JC was sitting here. That was Julia, the late Julia Child. And as the evening wore on, more and more people would come up and ask Julia to autograph something or express a feeling that she had changed their life. And it just happened over and over again. So eventually, I turned to Julia, and I said, Ms. Child, is it fun to be famous? And she thought about it for a second. And she said, you get used to it.

But you know what occurred to me? You never get used to being ignored. So here’s a way to think about it. Your ideas are like your children. And you don’t want them to go into the world in rags. So what you want to do is to be sure that you have these techniques, these mechanisms, these thoughts about how to present ideas that you have so that they’re recognized for the value that is in them. So that’s why it’s a legitimate thing to concern yourself with packaging.

Patrick Wilson

When Wilson talks about techniques and mechanisms, he is talking about usability factors that are gathered through studying real world situations and how others relate to our ideas and designs. This is the best type of marketing. When we use these techniques to send our ideas into the world we are sending them out properly dressed, so that they are welcomed and valued. For a quick primer on interview slide decks jump to minute 25:00.