On a wet, stormy day in Yokohama, Japan, I ducked into a building for cover. It happened to be the Cup Noodles Museum. Yes, there is an entire museum for the Cup of Noodles.
And surprisingly, there were some essential lessons for anyone who does presentations.
The museum focuses on Momofuku Ando, who first invented the instant chicken ramen noodle meal in 1958. At the age of 95, he was still innovating and designed Space Ramen – an instant treat for astronauts to enjoy as they hurl through space. (Click here to read more about this amazing man.)
Innovation is an essential ingredient for any presenter who wants to keep his or her audience engaged. Momofuku Ando’s creative thinking process revolved around the following six key concepts, all of which should capture the imagination of every person who might need to present something to some audience someday.
- Discover Something Completely New: Seek things that the world has never seen but would be nice to have. How many times have you sat through the same presentation format? A slide deck. Some information. Some Q&A toward the end. To capture an audience’s attention and to light their imagination on fire, begin by finding something new.
- Find Hints in All Sorts of Places: There are inspirations that spark new idea all around you just waiting to be found. Have a family? What inspiration can your children give you? Been outside lately? Maybe there’ll be inspiration in a funny shaped rock or a group of people you pass by on the street or that dude who cut you off on your way to the office yesterday. Pick your head up. Look around. Get inspired. Then use it to inspire others.
- Nurture the Idea: An invention isn’t for just one person; have everyone use it. It’s pretty selfish to have an amazing idea and then to let other things get in the way of being able to effectively communicate your idea to others. Take the time you need in order to find a way to get others as passionate about your topic as you are. (And just talking about your topic will not get others as passionate.)
- Look at Things from Every Angle: Investigate every perspective. Telling yourself: “my topic is boring” is a cop out. There are a million ways to present on any given topic. And some of those ways are even fun and exciting and amazing. Find the way that works for you… even if you have to keep looking for a while until you discover it.
- Don’t Just Go with the Status Quo: Think beyond what you think is usual. Just because there are so many poor presentations out there, doesn’t mean your need to limit yourself to what everyone else does. Honestly, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?
- Never Give Up: Even if you fail the first time and the second time, keep on trying. Trying something new is uncomfortable. Forgoing PowerPoint slides in a presentation may push you out of your comfort zone. Opening a presentation by suggesting everyone in the room turn to the person next to them to discuss a topic before you launch into your brilliant discourse from the podium may push everyone out of their comfort zones. And some of these things may… hmmm, let me re-phrase that: many of these things will fail. Miserably. Of course, if we abandoned a new way of doing things at the first hint of failure, we might not have light bulbs, we might not have iPods (or iPads or iMacs), and we’d all still be wearing diapers since potty training never, ever works well the first time.
Without innovation, we get the same, boring presentation. And very little is learned by an audience sitting through the same, boring presentation.