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20 Habits That Will Fuel Your Creativity

Writers know the feeling of a writer’s block: forced imageries, that slight and awkward change in style, words being eked out just to say that something is written. Along a similar vein, visual artists suffer the same. There’s no inspiration. No guiding hand on the canvas. No mind’s eye seeing what a piece could look like or even a little imagination for a pitch. The worst part is that a creativity block can afflict anyone, even those not particularly creative.
It’s a tough spot to get out of. You need that huge mental boost to overcome it, but maintaining it is a different matter. Even in the other end of the spectrum, people who say they aren’t creative find it hard to jumpstart their mind juices to produce something.
How do people get mentally stuck anyway? Is it because the proverbial “muse” that artists of yore wrote, painted, and sculpted about is absent? Modern science has a different answer. In a radio interview with Public Radio International, Dr. Heather Berlin, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says, “[T]here tends to be a pattern of activation when [people] have decreased activation in a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. And [it] has to do with your sense of self, … making sure that your behavior conforms to social norms.”
In short, when creativity sets in, people “lose [their] sense of self.” The moment they become conscious that they are without the normal bounds of work rules, they slip back in, and the former mindset is gone.
Have you ever stopped to think about the rut you’re in? In this article, business coach and trainer Mark McGuiness posits that there are seven types of creative block, and it involves more than just your mentality.
Lucky for you, there are tons of articles that give ideas on how to overcome that pesky block. The following infographic lists down habits you could start doing now to get your creative juices flowing.

20 Habits

Resources:

McGuinness, Mark. “7 Types of Creative Block (and What to Do About Them).” 99U. n.d. www.99u.com/articles/7088/7-types-of-creative-block-and-what-to-do-about-them
Perry, Susan K. “10 Creative Block Breakers That Actually Work.” Psychology Today. September 14, 2012. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creating-in-flow/201209/10-creative-block-breakers-actually-work
Shockman, Elizabeth. “Creative Block? Here the Neuroscience of How to Fix That.” Public Radio International. April 5, 2016. www.pri.org/stories/2016-04-05/creative-block-here-s-neuroscience-how-fix

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch

It’s hard to start a project that isn’t particularly inspiring to do. Much more if you’ve somehow gotten yourself in a creative rut, self-brought or otherwise.
If you find it difficult to come up with a sales pitch, then it’s time to start doing it differently, specifically the planning.
Working on a new project that doesn’t interest you actually feels like it’s taking so much mental energy and focus. Even forcing yourself to do it leaves you feeling tired. When you’re not up to the task of delivering a sales pitch, your lack of enthusiasm will show and affect your performance. Try some of these tips to get your creative juices flowing. 

Claim Creativity

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Claim Creativity
Stop thinking you’re not imaginative or artistic. This is self-defeating and counterproductive and will prevent you from performing at your best. People who confidently call themselves creative helps them be more creative. Sound familiar? How about a different—and quite literal—interpretation of “I think, therefore I am” or “You are what you eat”?
Bill Seidel, inventor and CEO of America Invents, starts his class by making sure all his students raise their hands when he asks them if they’re creative.
Negativity and doubt are obstacles you need to get rid of. Gain a new perspective by thinking creatively and believing in yourself. 

Take a Break

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Take a Break
Familiarity breeds contempt. For a sales pitch, you might be getting burned out from thinking up of ways—and failing—to make one. Remember the mental tiredness from forcing yourself to create? If you feel that happening, stop for a while. Give yourself a break and move away from everything that reminds you of work. Not only are you resting your body but also your mind. A bit of fresh air or a stroll around the block can do the trick. As long as you distract and detract yourself away from the task, you’ll get that “second wind,” so to speak.
Put yourself in a good mood and focus on feeling positive and relaxed instead. A cool head might be all you need to get back in the game. 

Daydream

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Daydream
If you need to imagine yourself having an awesome deck, why not? Staring into space and having your mind wonder and wander about not only serve as mental breaks but are also exercises into alternate realities. Oxymoronic, you say, break and exercise? It’s that paradoxical nature that will get you thinking more and more yet not find yourself stressing out… if you’ll think about it.
There’s a wondrous surprise of liberation when you get your head up in the clouds, conjuring in your mind anything that doesn’t tire you out or pressure you to work or even be an adult. Once that pressure is lifted, who knows, maybe the key you need for that pitch will just come to you. Or you will just suddenly think of something that will make your deck perfect. All because you didn’t force yourself to think of it.

Experience New Things

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Experience New Things
Try new stuff. That’s basically it. Experience something you haven’t before. Haven’t traveled yet? Go ahead. Never tried skiing? Try it for the first time. The point is expanding your horizons. Quite the cliché, right? But the lesson is still there: when you have a wider base of knowledge, you can draw much from your experiences. Insights, parallelisms, and even comparisons that you can use as leverage.
Challenge and go beyond your limits and comfort zone. There’s much to learn beyond what you already know, and depending on your stock knowledge for everything will eventually be unhealthy. You could even discover new loves and passions to add to your schedule and skills to your repertoire. Don’t be afraid.

Allow Room for Mistakes

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Allow Room for Mistakes
The need to be original is your biggest obstacle to being creative. This is too much to consider, when all you really have to do is deliver a sales pitch.
Frame your experience to the present moment, and your anxieties will look much smaller. Overwhelming pressure and fear of the uncertain leads to self-doubt, but no one’s perfect. Cut yourself some slack. There’s no need to bring all those to the table. And no need to bite off more than you could chew. You’ve got your task enough as it is. Never mind the Pygmalion effect. Just go out there and be great.

The Takeaway

Swap the negative thinking with positive thinking to set yourself up for success. Another option is to daydream, imagine different things that can only happen in your head. Once you’ve cleared your mind, come back to making your sales presentation. Or try new things you’ve yet to do. Lastly, don’t force yourself; don’t be the obstacle you’re looking to overcome. Once you’ve got those creative juices flowing, try again. And see the results.

Resources:

Efti, Steli. “10 Steps For Giving A Convincing Sales Pitch.” Forbes. April 18, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2014/04/18/10-steps-for-giving-a-convincing-sales-pitch
Falconer, Joel. “30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity.” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/30-tips-to-rejuvenate-your-creativity.html
Irwin, Menar. “Creativity Hacks: 9 Ways to Find Inspiration.” Marketing Insider Group. December 16, 2016. www.marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/creativity-hacks-9-ways-find-inspiration
Kotler, Steven. “Hacking Creativity.” The Creativity Post. July 31, 2012. www.creativitypost.com/pop-culture/hacking_creativity
Tartakovsky, MS, Margarita. “One of the Biggest Obstacles to Creativity.” Psych Central. October 1, 2014. blogs.psychcentral.com/everyday-creativity/2015/10/one-of-the-biggest-obstacles-to-creativity
Zetlin, Minda. “9 Seriously Easy Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy.” Inc.com. January 16, 2015. www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/9-seriously-easy-ways-to-spark-your-creative-energy.html
“How to Be Creative: 6 Secrets Backed by Research.” Bakadesuyo.com. December 2015. www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/12/how-to-be-creative

A Recipe for Cooking Presentation Ideas: Important Questions to Ask

Everything starts with an idea. Writers invoke Muses for inspiration; scientists gather data to make a breakthrough; and speakers brainstorm before preparing a presentation. This all sounds so simple in writing, but when you’re faced with the actual task of coming up with ideas, you might find yourself in a barren and lonely land. All too often, creative people struggle against creative block, a seemingly dead-end state that leaves them high and dry.
When you’re stuck in this state, things can get ugly, especially since you can do nothing to nudge your presentation forward. You can neither start structuring your outline nor begin designing your pitch deck. Without that elusive idea, you have no topic. You have nothing to work with—and this can discourage you and force you to drop your speaking engagement right there and then.

Overcome Creative Block and Get Your Ideas Flowing

Presentation Ideas: Overcome Creative Block
Fortunately, there is an antidote to creative block. But before you solve this problem, you need to acknowledge its three main causes first: high expectations, fear of failure, and the pressure of unrealistic deadlines. Once you understand its triggers and the proper ways to address them, all you have to do is wait for fresh ideas to bubble up from the depths of your mind.

Here are some of the things you can do to overcome creative block:

  • Get up early to brainstorm. According to an infographic posted on Ragan, 55 percent of writers who write early in the morning overcome writer’s block. The same can be said about presenters who brainstorm earlier during the day. Mornings can inspire you to be proactive and productive for the rest of the day, so get up early to rack your brain for ideas.
  • Remove all distractions. The same infographic also found that 47 percent of people who removed distractions like gadgets were able to improve their concentration and creativity. When brainstorming, make sure you give yourself enough time and space, with no one and nothing around to interrupt your thoughts.
  • Do other creative exercises. When you’re stuck inside your head, you can’t just sit around and do nothing. You need to do something else—something that’s not related to the presentation you’re working on. You can go and write a poem, watch TV, sing, dance, or cook. Do anything that freshens you up, and sooner or later, you’ll be able to tap into that well of ideas that’s lying dormant in your mind. 
  • Cut yourself some slack. High expectations and the pressure to succeed can bar your thought factory. You might involuntarily shut your brain off if you’re too afraid to come up with a mediocre idea. There’s only one way to fix this, and that is to take the pressure off of yourself. Remember, you’re still in the brainstorming phase—nothing you come up with on this stage is final.

Questions to Kick Off the Brainstorming Process

Presentation Ideas: Questions to Kick Off the Brainstorming Process
Once you overcome your creative block, it’s time to kick off the brainstorming process. While it’s true that anything goes during this stage, it’s still important to acknowledge the issue the right way. Here are some of the most crucial questions to ask when conjuring ideas for a presentation:

1. What do you have that you can share?

Always keep your knowledge and passion in mind. Select a subject matter that you’re familiar with and that you like. This will help cut down your research time and allow you to focus more clearly on your message. If you know what you’re talking about, your credibility will soar into new heights. Knowledge about the topic will allow you to satiate the audience’s desire to learn. Likewise, if you like what you’re talking about, your confidence will rise. The audience can pick up enthusiasm, so when they sense that you’re excited about your talk, they will be excited too. 

2. How can you improve the audience’s lives?

The audience is the star of the presentation, so make sure you consider how your talk can be relevant to them. Ask yourself, what pain point am I trying to target? How can my proposed solution fit into the audience’s lives? Does my message resonate with them? How are they likely to respond and react to my talk? Answering these questions will lead you to the right direction.

3. What is the outcome you desire?

From the start, you need to make your goals clear. Identify the purpose of your presentation and the aims it tries to achieve. Spell out your call to action—don’t just leave it for the audience to guess.

4. Which perspective can make you a thought leader?

Make your presentation worthwhile by differentiating yourself from the crowd. Blaze new paths with your speech, and make sure that the audience can clearly see what makes you unique. As a thought leader, you’ll be able to add value to your industry. You’ll be an important asset that consumers and entrepreneurs alike will respect and uphold. 

5. Can you structure your topic as a narrative?

Ideally, the topic you choose should be narrative-driven since presenters are expected to be master storytellers. People are more responsive to stories because they make presentations more memorable. They create an emotional bond that allows the audience to get to the heart of the message.

6. Can you simplify the message without sacrificing its value?

Finally, ask yourself, can I condense this thought into a shorter presentation? Can I make it more concise without losing the core message? To make your talk as brief as it can be, make sure you only have one focus. Cut anything that’s not related to the core idea.
Before jumping with both feet into a speaking engagement, make sure that you have a strong idea in your arsenal. That idea is the cornerstone of your presentation—without it, you’re stuck with nothing. Take the aforementioned tips so you can craft a speech that’s grounded on a worthwhile concept.

Resources:

Anderson, Meghan Keaney. “The 5 Questions You Should Ask to Nail Your Product Messaging.” Hubspot. December 27, 2012. blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33981/The-5-Questions-You-Should-Ask-to-Nail-Your-Product-Messaging.aspx#sm.0000w6nx4vstbcwkqnc12umt2kzcx
Azzarello, Patty. “A Guide to Brief and Effective Workplace Communication.” Ragan. October 15, 2015. www.ragan.com/WritingEditing/Articles/50282.aspx
Bates, Claire. “Blanking Out: How Stress Can Shut Down the Command Center in the Brain.” Daily Mail.  April 11, 2012. www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2127686/How-stress-shut-command-centre-brain.html
Dixon, George. “How to Choose Your Presentation Topic.” Presentation Magazine. January 2, 2012. www.presentationmagazine.com/how-to-choose-your-presentation-topic-10871.htm
Dlugan, Andrew. “The Secret of Choosing Successful Speech Topics.” Six Minutes. October 25, 2010. sixminutes.dlugan.com/speech-topics
Long, Kristin. “Infographic: The Most Effective Ways to Beat Writer’s Block.” Ragan. October 9, 2015. www.ragan.com/WritingEditing/Articles/50255.aspx
Mitchell, Olivia. “9 Ways to Edit Your Presentation.” Speaking About Presenting. n.d. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/edit-presentation
Parker, Roger. “Mark Twain’s Advice for Authors Writing Brand-Building Books.” Personal Branding Blog. May 18, 2011. www.personalbrandingblog.com/mark-twains-advice-for-authors-writing-brand-building-books
Sambuchino, Chuck. “7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block.” Writer’s Digest. May 5, 2013. www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/7-ways-to-overcome-writers-block

Secret Santa Rules: How to Make Your Presentation Worthwhile [Infographic]

The cool Christmas breeze, sparkling lights in the cities, and merry carolers are only a few of the cues that the happiest time of the year is here again.

With the holiday season just around the corner, let’s all embrace the cheer and bring everyone joy.

This celebration isn’t only for those we love and care for. It’s also for the people we don’t encounter every day, and people who need a helping hand.

You don’t have to give grand and expensive presents. A simple and sincere Christmas greeting can brighten up one’s day.

A smile or a warm hug can liven up and give comfort to a lonely spirit.

So if you have this major presentation to deliver, why not give your pitch the warmth of giving and sharing?

Try presenting from a secret Santa’s point of view to deliver a bundle of joy and a wealth of delight to your audience, no matter how small or big the group is.

It doesn’t just allow you to reach out to them, it also lets them appreciate your presence and understand your message.

Be Like a Secret Santa!

Presentations are like holiday gift exchanges, you need to plan in advance to frame the right content with delivery they’ll truly appreciate.

Always follow the secret rules of making a worthwhile presentation.

First, stick to the limit. In gift-giving, it’s important to give something appropriate for that person you drew out of a hat.

In presentations, you need to consider your audiences and their needs to deliver your message effectively.

Second, you have to be a good observer. This is essential in finding a perfect gift for your loved ones, as well as with business pitches.

Pay attention to your audience and their visual cues for a surefire performance.

Lastly, show some creativity. Make your presentation unique like a beautifully wrapped gift.

Get creative with your visuals and content to end your message on a high note.

Wrap them all up together and your audience will value the gift of information.

Here’s an infographic from SlideGenius to show you how acting like a secret Santa makes for effective presentations:

Be Like Secret Santa: How It Makes Presentations Worthwhile

“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give,” — Winston Churchill.

People celebrate success and achieve happiness when good results come their way. However, one can’t achieve great outcomes without exerting any effort. Don’t just focus on yourself while climbing up your own career ladder. After all, most businesses aren’t run by just a single person – they’re built up of several people. You can’t sell something without having someone to sell to, either. That’s why if you want to help yourself, you should also reach out to others.

It’s a great time to do this, especially since the Christmas season is just around the corner. So if you have this major presentation to deliver, why not embrace this season of giving and sharing? Share helpful insights with your audience, and you’ll get undivided attention in return.

Here’s how to be like a secret Santa and make your business pitch worthwhile not just for yourself, but for others.

1. Stick to the Limit

1-Stick-to-Presentation-Limits

In the context of gift-giving, you can’t buy something random for that person you drew out of the hat. You have to pick an item that can be used by anyone of any gender, without exceeding the maximum budget allotted. Similar to the limits imposed on what kind of gift you can give, making a presentation also comes with its own list of things to consider. It’s tempting to go over the maximum number of PowerPoint slides that you’re allowed to use, especially if you’re struggling to convey your message effectively with less content.

Going over the limit might give you more room to explain your point, but keeping it concise makes it easier for the audience to remember what you said. Likewise, overly-designed visuals in your slides can distract the audience, not only taking their eyes away from your deck, but making them lose their interest in you as well. Sometimes, it’s not about the quantity of your offering, but the quality of your gift. Make your presentation design simple yet interesting to engage and entice them with your speech.

2. Find Out What They Like

2-Find-Out-What-Audiences-Like

Finding the perfect Christmas gift can be both exciting and challenging, just like when you’re pitching a business proposal. The greatest challenge is presenting something that meets your client’s expectations and interests. You have to observe how people act so that you can map out a great strategy. This applies before, during, and after your presentation. Don’t forget to take a real glance at your audience while you’re speaking. Do they look engaged, or are they checking their wristwatches or cellphones instead?

You can try segueing with a somewhat related topic in order to regain their attention, but make sure it’s connected to your message. Otherwise, your audience will think that you’re giving them random information, just so you can say that you offered something, even if it’s knowledge that the audience can’t use.

As a presenter, you also need to watch for what signals they’re sending in. Their expressions are big hints as to how they’re receiving your presentation. Is your audience smiling at you or are they giving you a neutral face? If it’s the former, keep going. If it’s the latter, it’s time to re-evaluate your tactics – and quick.

For example, if business jokes don’t seem to work on them, then you should probably go for something serious. Once you’ve picked up on their visual clues, re-align your thoughts and switch to another style of delivery to recapture their interest.

3. Get Creative with Your Gifts

3-Get-Creative-With-Gifts-and-Presentations

Receiving a beautifully wrapped gift can make anyone feel extra special. After all, it brings the holiday spirit to life in that one simple moment. If lovely gift-wrapping adds value to a gift, then all the more reason to wrap your speech with a nice note, too. Instead of talking about your topic dryly, go for a creative approach to not only hook but also inform your audience. For instance, you can include an animated video or a movie clip that sums up your intended message with maximum impact.

If you really can’t think of alternative ways to deliver your message, don’t fret. There are plenty of different avenues you can take: you can include infographics, success stories, and up-to-date news to support your main idea. Of course, sprucing up your deck with eye-catching design and layout will help your audience pay attention to what you’re saying. Make sure to align your colors and elements to your personal branding, and arrange your text and images in a way that clarifies your main points, rather than detract from them.

Wrapping It Up

4-Wrap-Up-Your-Presentations-Like-Gifts

Presentations are similar to Christmas cringles and gift exchanges. You need to put in more effort to make your audience value the gift you’re sharing: the gift of information. Follow the basics, and don’t go overboard. If they set a limit to the kind of gift you can give, then stay within those limits. This not only saves you time, but keeps you from straying from your main topic, giving your audience a meaty presentation instead of one filled with irrelevant information.

Be a good observer, not just someone dispensing information, but someone who takes in available information as well. Things may not go the way you planned them to, so it’s crucial to adapt in case you notice the crowd starting to doze off. Watch out for visual clues about your listeners’ interest levels and adjust according to the situation. Finally, unleash your creative side. Think of other ways to effectively convey your message. Anybody can stand in front of a crowd and start talking about straight facts, but only those who prepare well for it can relay their messages in compelling and convincing ways.

Adopt a secret Santa approach and you’ll bring joy to everybody in your audience. By sincerely giving what meaningful knowledge you have to others, you’re sure to receive sales and numerous successes in return.

 

References

Dabbah, Mariela. “Secret Santa:  7 Golden Rules for Giving.” Mamiverse. September 12, 2011. Accessed November 17, 2015. www.mamiverse.com/secret-santa-7-golden-rules-for-giving-3894/

Creating Creativity: Creative Habits to Practice Everyday

Successful people think outside the box and offer something new every time. Fortunately, according to Sir Ken Robinson in his famous TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” everyone has the capacity to be creative. It’s just a matter of perspective and persistence.

Making creativity a habit can boost your performance. You’ll be able to keep your audience interested with your originality.  However, the benefits of ingenuity aren’t limited to your professional life. Practice it every day to become a happier, better-rounded individual.

Look for Inspiration Everywhere

Fresh material can be found in the most unexpected places. Resourceful thinkers let their minds and bodies wander to find original ideas. Daydreaming allows your brain to branch out into different possibilities, which is essential for creative thinking. You actually come up with the best concepts when you least expect them. Try getting fresh air and step outside to look for inspiration.

But being on the go not only helps you find your muse, it also literally improves your thought process. Studies provide evidence on the correlation between physical movement and cognitive activity. The next time you come across a mental block, consider going out for a run.

Passion Precedes Excellence

A project done half-heartedly is bound to fail. Creative people know this, so they give their all in their work, and the results follow. While committing yourself to one thing seems tedious, single-tasking can be very rewarding. Focusing on one project gives you more time to scrutinize and polish its quality.

Because this requires a lot of patience, you have to really be interested in what you’re working on to keep going at it. It doesn’t have to be your immediate interest. It just has to be something you’re willing to invest effort in.

Angel investor and entrepreneur Amy Rees Anderson, writes in her article on Forbes that passionate pursuit yields monetary return, citing examples such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. The more enthusiastic you are, the higher the chances are of a good result.

Criticism Nurtures Growth of Ideas

People are naturally social beings. Finding like-minded individuals who can share your vision and assist your progress is crucial in the creative process. Although originality seems personal, making connections and collaborating with others can help you come up with better ideas.

Ed Catmull, co-founder and current president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, discloses the process behind Pixar’s creative successes in an article on the Harvard Business Review. In his definition of creativity, Catmull debunks the misconception of creativity as a “mysterious solo act” and instead emphasizes the collaboration of great minds in producing good output. Those who seek out communities to foster imagination and growth are more likely to succeed in their craft than people who remain solitary.

For one thing, other people won’t know your work exists if you keep it to yourself. For another, getting feedback allows you to improve on skills. In the case of a presenter, showing your content and visuals to your peers or to other experts gives you different perspectives on your presentation.

After all, an audience will look at it in the end, so why not get constructive opinions now? Being around other creatives can also build a network of ideas that you can tap into anytime.

Conclusion

Creativity has many benefits. It enhances your personal and professional life. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t limited to a chosen few, either. To achieve creative thought, simply go out of your comfort zone and explore. You can get inspiration from everything around you.

Work hard and be patient in crafting your ideas into worthwhile output. When you’re ready to let your work be known, surround yourself with people who are willing to support you and give you feedback. It’s a healthy practice to integrate creativity into your daily routine.

Need help making a creative and stimulating presentation? Contact our SlideGenius experts and get a free quote!

 

References

Anderson, Amy. “Does Being Passionate About the Work You Do Increase Your Chance of Succes?”. Forbes Magazine. Accessed October 9, 2015. www.forbes.com/sites/amyanderson/2013/03/27/does-being-passionate-about-the-work-you-do-increase-your-chance-of-success
Catmull, Edwin. “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity.” Harvard Business Review. September 1, 2008. Accessed October 9, 2016. www.hbr.org/2008/09/how-pixar-fosters-collective-creativity
Chan, Amanda. “Regular Exercise Could Boost Creativity.” The Huffington Post. December 9, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2015. www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/exercise-creativity-physical-activity_n_4394310.html

Featured Image: “Chalk” by Dean Hochman on flickr.com

The Creative Process: 4 Steps to Presentation Success

We like to think of creativity as something elusive. It’s either you have it or you don’t. But as we discussed in the past, creativity is not a special trait reserved for artists, musicians, and writers. Creativity is a vital for endeavors that involve communicating and connecting with others. Whether you’re working on a novel or pitching to investors, creativity is crucial for capturing the imagination. The creative process is considered elusive only because we don’t know how to navigate through it.

The science of creativity

The idea that creativity is black and white comes from the notion that the left and right sides of the brain are distinct. Those who use the left side of their brains are more logical, practical, organized, and analytical. On the other hand, “right-brained” thinkers are understood to be more creative, artistic, and emotional.

That means an entrepreneur who carefully plans his next step is left-brained, right? And a pianist practicing a sonata is obviously using the right side of her brain. Recent research prove that this is just a myth:

Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.

Instead, the entire creative process– from preparation to incubation to illumination to verification– consists of many interacting cognitive processes (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what you’re actually attempting to create, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.

Importantly, many of these brain regions work as a team to get the job done, and many recruit structures from both the left and right side of the brain. In recent years, evidence has accumulated suggesting that “cognition results from the dynamic interactions of distributed brain areas operating in large-scale networks.”

In truth, the creative process involves several steps that happen in different regions of the brain. As indicated in the quoted passage, the brain is actually a complicated network that operates as a whole. There is no divide between the creative and logical. While some are more inclined to either one of these traits, both can be true for a lot of people as well. The creative process doesn’t involve magic. It can happen for an artist, as well as an entrepreneur preparing for a presentation.

The creative process in four stages

The social psychologist Graham Wallas described the creative process as a series of steps. According to Wallas, the creative process has four stages that involve both conscious and unconscious thinking. If you feel like your presentations can use a bit more imagination, you don’t need to wait for the muse to come. Just take note of the following steps to help you get started:

Stage One: Preparation

Creative Process 1: Preparation

The first stage involves laying down the ground work of your project. To prepare, you consult prior knowledge and experiences, as well as seek out other resources. In presentations, this is when you define the main purpose of your presentation. Upon figuring out your goals, do some research and seek out inspiration.

Stage Two: Incubation

Creative Process 2: Incubation

After gathering inspiration comes a period of “unconscious processing.” Here, you let your brain piece together what you were able to gather. Wallas describes it as “voluntary abstention” from consciously thinking of the problem at hand. Instead of trying to find a specific solution, you take a step back and consider different possibilities. If you remember our previous discussion on creativity, this is similar to creating “psychological distance” between yourself and your work. At this point, instead of letting yourself be boxed inside a specific line of thinking, try to explore other solutions through brainstorming and mind mapping.

Stage Three: Illumination

Creative Process 3: Illumination

As the name suggests, the third step of the creative process involves the moment when everything finally comes together. According to Wallas, this stage can’t be forced. It happens unconsciously, only after you were able to step back and consider different solutions. He describes illumination as the following:

[The] final “flash,” or “click” … is the culmination of a successful train of association, which may have lasted for an appreciable time, and which has probably been preceded by a series of tentative and unsuccessful trains. The series of unsuccessful trains of association may last for periods varying from a few seconds to several hours.

Stage Four: Verification

Creative Process 4: Verification

The last stage of the creative process involves carrying out your idea into the real thing. To ensure success, consult the goals and parameters you’ve determined in the preparation stage. For presentations, this involves finally building your PowerPoint deck, as well as the act of presenting in front of an audience.

Creativity doesn’t need to be magical and elusive. It can be accessible to those of who aren’t particularly inclined to artistic endeavors. Familiarize yourself with the different stages of the creative process and ensure that your presentations end successfully.

 

References

Kaufman, Scott Barry. “The Real Neuroscience of Creativity.” Scientific American. August 19, 2013. Accessed October 15, 2014.
Popova, Maria. “The Art of Thought: A Pioneering 1926 Model of the Four Stages of Creativity.” Brain Pickings. 2013. Accessed October 15, 2014.

 

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3 Ways to Creativity: How to Come Up with Better Presentation Ideas

You might think that creativity is only reserved for poets and artists. But it’s not a personal trait that someone is immediately born with. While there are people who are more inclined to creative pursuits, everyone is capable of thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas. And this is especially crucial if you’re preparing for a presentation.

If you’re feeling like you’re running short on creativity, you just need to re-orient yourself with a different outlook and you’ll soon come up with bigger and better presentation ideas.

Instead of waiting for your muse, give these techniques a try for creative presentation ideas:

Increase creativity for presentation ideas
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Try not to stress yourself out

We’re often pressured to come up with creative solutions when there’s a lot on the line. The higher the stakes, the more you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself in a cycle of stress and frustration.

So how will you save yourself from pulling out all your hair?

According to Sparring Mind‘s Gregory Ciotti, it’s important to create “psychological distance” between yourself and the task at hand. In a study conducted last 2009, researchers found that respondents were able to jog their creativity when they thought of their tasks as something distant. By detaching yourself from your presentation, you’ll be able to ease some of the tension you feel.

You can also try creating some physical distance between you and your workstation. Reduce your stress by taking a moment away from brainstorming. Enjoy a quick stroll outside, and you might come across something that will give you new ideas.

The fresh air might also help in relieving the stress you feel from your creative block. If you don’t want to go outside, a quick nap can do wonders to refresh your mind. Several studies have found that a short snooze can help improve memory, cognitive function, and creativity.

Ask yourself the right questions

When faced with a difficult task, we often stick to the solutions that have worked for us before. With presentations, you immediately try to visualize how your PowerPoint deck is going to look like. You might even ask how many slides you need to make. This technique can stifle your creativity because you’re focusing too much on the finished product. What you need to do is take a step back and ask yourself the right questions.

The questions you ask should be more specific to the goal you want to achieve. Instead of wondering how you’re supposed to start a PowerPoint deck for an investment pitch, go into the rationale behind your presentation.

If coming up with the right questions seems too difficult, try the “Six Hats” technique:

  • Red Hat: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
  • White Hat: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
  • Yellow Hat: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?
  • Black Hat: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
  • Green Hat: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
  • Blue Hat: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?

Seek inspiration

Inspiration can be found anywhere. In the case of presentations, there are plenty of sources to get you started. The Internet is a great place to look for presentation ideas.

After a quick Google search, you’ll find plenty of blogs and websites offering their own tips and tricks to solve your dilemma. Don’t just stare at a blank slide all day. Do your research and look for things that can inspire you. If you’re finding it difficult to write your content, try creating a presentation storyboard to get you started.

You can also get great ideas from things that don’t seem related to your task at all. You might think it’s crazy, but a lot of random things can relate to presentations. Think about the movies that made an impact on you. Browse through the book you just finished reading. You might even find inspiration from watching a soccer match.

The Final Word

But while it’s important to search for inspiration, don’t use it as an excuse to procrastinate from your task. While surfing the Internet, try to avoid sites that might distract you.

Social media networks are the usual suspects. Web tools like StayFocused can block sites for a specific period of time to keep you on the right track.

Give yourself time and space to look for inspiration and refresh your mind. Using these three strategies, you’ll be able to come up with a more creative presentation in no time.

 

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References

Ciotti, Gregory. “Nine of the Best Ways to Boost Creative Thinking.” Lifehacker. Accessed September 5, 2014.
Cooper, Belle. “The Science Behind What Naps Do For Your Brain–And Why You Should Have One Today.” Fast Company. September 16, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2014.
Jia, Lile, et. al., “Lessons from a Faraway Land: The Effect of Spatial Distance on Creative Cognition.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45, no. 5 (September 2009): 1127-131. Accessed September 5, 2014.

 

Featured Image: photosteve101 via Flickr