Presentation Zen and Grammar B

As I was reading the Presentation Zen selection, I discovered that Reynolds’ vision of presentations in “the conceptual age” exhibits some characteristics of Weathers’ Grammar B.  Seth Godin’s rule of “No more than six words on a slide.  EVER” (qtd in Reynolds 20) reminded me of Weathers’ discussion of crots as stylistic maneuvers used deliberately in writing which employs the alternate grammar (Grammar B).  Weathers says that “each crot is not unlike a ‘snapshot’ of a color slide” and that “the overall composition, using crots, is similar to slideshow, especially if the slides have not been arranged in any neat and tidy sequence” (137).  The fragmented nature of crots seems to lend itself quite naturally to Reynolds’ notion of simplicity and constraint within the Presentation Zen framework.

Weathers also mentions the intentional use of sentence fragments in Grammar B, which can create a “more sharply pointed kind of reading line” (139) when used in conjunction with other sentence types.  I can see using fragments in preparing a Presentation Zen-type slideshow, as a way of achieving the goal of simplicity and brevity.

Furthermore, I thought that lists (a Grammar B structure) might also be appropriate for Presentation Zen projects.  Weathers says that “the list stands in stark simplicity—a list of objects, observations, or what have you—to give a quick representation of a character, as situation, a place by the simple device of selecting items to represent the subject under discussion”(140).  I thought that idea aligned nicely with Reynolds’ emphasis on simplicity and clarity in Presentation Zen.   Creativity (another key element to Presentation Zen) is also involved in the determination of what words the presenter might choose to include on a list to “represent the subject under discussion.”

Another of Grammar B’s potentially useful techniques for use in a Presentation Zen slideshow is collage/montage.   When Weathers says that the “collage/montage effect…is a stylistic effort at synthesis”(146), I made a connection to Reynolds’ section about Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, particularly the section about “symphony”, which notes that “[s]ymphony is about utilizing our whole mind—logic, analysis, synthesis, intuition—to make sense of our world (i.e. our topic), find the big picture, and determine what is important and what is not before the day of our talk”(17).  I thought perhaps that creating a Presentation Zen slideshow using collage/montage might spark the audience’s symphonic aptitude through its revealing, at the end of the presentation, “a synthesis and a wholeness that might not been suspected at any station along the way” (Weathers 147).

As a final thought, I was intrigued by Reynolds’ discussion of time, and how people need lots of independent thinking time, “away from the direct challenges of work” (37)to enliven our creative sides.  I remembered Derek’s mention of Google’s 20% rule earlier in the semester as I read this section, and I completely buy into this notion of the necessity/imperativeness of free (non-work related)  time to hit the proverbial “refresh” button.  Perhaps there is a reason we sometimes call these cherished occasions of personal freedom “moments of Zen”…

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