Friday, March 29, 2013

A Cautionary Tale

One of the great "school" movies of all times is Mr. Holland's Opus. Those who have seen it cannot  cannot forget the finale. Budget cuts were scheduled to eliminate the program this man had worked his whole career to build. A defeated Glenn Holland walked into an auditorium filled with supporters and a stage teaming with students from days gone by. All had come to pay tribute to a man and a program who had meant much to them.

At one dramatic moment, the doors to the auditorium fling wide and in walks the governor, a figure we had seen much earlier in the movie as a struggling young clarinet player. She takes the podium and begins a stirring tribute to her teacher:

I kept waiting for the moment the governor would announce that under no circumstances would funding for a program which had done so much for so many be cut. I waited...and waited...but that proclamation never came. After all was said and done, Glenn Holland began his retirement, and the music program became history.

What a poor ending! What were the writers thinking? What kind of message does it send when the governor praises the teacher and the program, yet does nothing to save it?

I was expecting the governor to make everything right. I was expecting the "good guys" to win. And I was expecting it all to happen while I sat comfortably in my chair and watched. Surely I would be walking out of the theater affirmed that as long as music programs offer quality and help children grow up whole, those music programs have nothing to fear. Someone will look out for them. 

Little by little, I began to realize that this movie ended correctly. The message was clear. As long as good people sit back and do nothing, quality programs will perish with little thought given as to the void which will be left. The challenge clearly issued to every one of us in that movie theater was the challenge to make sure that what happened on that screen would not repeat itself in our communities.

Richard Dreyfuss played the starring role of Glenn Holland. An Academy Award nominee for his performance, these are the remarks that he made at the 38th Anuual Grammy Awards:

This evening is a celebration of music, the artists who create it, and the phenomenon of creativity itself. Now, there are two realities in this movie (Mr. Holland's Opus). One is the life of a teacher, a reality of defeats and victories, like all of our lives, --but one that ends as a celebration. The other reality is the loss of music in the schools in the same America and that is hardly a celebration.

For some strange reason, when it comes to music and the arts, our world view has led us to believe they are easily expendable. Well, I believe that a nation that allows music to be expendable is in danger of becoming expendable itself.

Perhaps we've all misunderstood the reason we learn music, and all the arts, in the first place. It is not only so a student can learn the clarinet, or another student can take an acting lesson. It is that for hundreds of years it has been known that teaching the arts, along with history and math and biology, helps to create The Well Rounded Mind that western civilization, and America, have been grounded on. America's greatest achievements -- in science, in business, in popular culture, would simply not be attainable without an education that encourages achievement in all fields. It is from that creativity and imagination that the solutions to our political and social problems will come. We need that Well Rounded Mind, now. Without it, we simply make more difficult the problems we face.

There's a general feeling growing in this country lately that we simply spend too much money ... that we can't afford to give our children the education we grew up with. This is an insane anxiety that allows us to forget that we are, after all, the richest country on Earth, and that the real question is not what we can't pay for, but rather how can we efficiently pay for the kind of public education we all want and need.

Cutting these programs, then, is like tying our children's hands behind their backs, and I don't think anyone really wants to do that ... we hope for too much for our kids, and for our country. We are parents, most of us, and we are citizens, all of us. Don't let this happen, I urge you."

As "Music in Our Schools Month" draws to a close, the challenge before us is not only to sustain, but expand the kinds of programs which will allow our country and its citizens to thrive in the decades ahead. All around us are people who owe much of what they have accomplished to the creativity, discipline, imagination, appreciation of quality, and preference for quality they learned in a music program somewhere along the way. Whether or not those opportunities will be there in the years to come will be up to us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The "Extinction Timeline"

It's always interesting to think about what the future will hold. With the changes we see, especially in technology, it should come as no surprise that tools which we use every single day—and possibly have for our entire lives—will be replaced, possibly sooner than we had expected.

Can you remember when the prediction was that one day, record stores would no longer carry "LPs." The stores would be stocked exclusively compact discs. I thought, "No way." Today, many people under 30 have never seen an LP.

A full 10 years into my teaching career, good advice to every student was to always carry a quarter in case of the need to make a phone call. Good luck finding a pay phone today.

What will be the next staple of today's world that will become tomorrow's dinosaur?

The link below will take you to a graph running from 1950-2050. You can look to see what has become extinct in the last 60 years. The real fun comes in looking looking ahead the next 40. 

I had to zoom in on the graph in order to really read the text. There is a great deal of food for thought there.

What predictions do you see that surprise you?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Updates to Google Forms

I have been a fan of Google Forms for quite a few years. Google has made some recent changes as to how the screens appear and where. This video is particularly good from the standpoint of its simple explanations. What you are seeing are screens following the recent changes.

Those who have attended my workshops will notice a slightly different approach. I create my spreadsheet first, listing my questions across the top of each column which then populate the form. This video shows creating the form first and then viewing the spreadsheet. Either approach works. I prefer to "begin with the end in mind," and therefore start by constructing the spreadsheet into which my data will feed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Be Quick—But Don't Hurry

For those who follow college basketball, "March Madness" is upon us. No tournament is complete without references to Coach John Wooden and the dynasty he built at UCLA. The program produced 10 NCAA championships in 12 years. While Coach Wooden passed away just under three years ago, his wisdom lives on. One of his gems was, "Be quick—but don't hurry."
Time management

Sometimes, the best thing to do is jump into a task and get it done. Sometimes, the best thing to do is step back, relax, and plan. "March Madness" brings to mind a prime example.

One day, with about an hour and a half left before time to go home, I started a project involving the assimilation of a large amount of data, data which had just become available. My goal was to enter the appropriate parts of the data into a spreadsheet, write needed formulas, and forward to completed project to colleagues as soon as possible.

"No better time than the present to just knock out the whole thing," I thought. For the next hour, I put shoulder to the wheel while watching the clock all along. The clock seemed to be going faster than the progress on the task at hand. In addition, two phone calls which had to be made before leaving weighed heavily on my mind.

With 30 minutes until time to leave the office, it became obvious I had severely underestimated the time required for the task. Furthermore, I was not enjoying what I was doing. At this juncture in my life, I have come to the conclusion that being happy doing what I am doing in the moment ought to be a primary focus. Furthermore, I felt frazzled. I found myself feverishly looking for a particular flash drive only to find it was in the pocket of the coat I was presently wearing!

I made a decision which may turn out to be the best decision of the entire weekend. I put the project in the briefcase. That left 30 minutes to plan my weekend and my Monday. I left the office with a clear picture of what needed to be accomplished that evening, the weekend, and the start of the next week.

Saturday morning, I resumed work on that spreadsheet at home, pulling the needed material from the briefcase. The previous afternoon, I was watching the clock and wondering what I had done to deserve such torture. Now, with a clear head and enough time to accomplish my task, I was having fun. I was relaxed.

During my commute to and from work, I made it a habit to listen to recorded books on CD. It was during that time that I listened to one entitled Be Quick—But Don't Hurry. The book was written by a former UCLA basketball player who recounted his days under the legendary John Wooden. The title refers to that piece of advice Wooden often gave his players. Author Andrew Hill, recounting his playing days with Wooden, says, “Life, like basketball, must be played fast–but never out of control.” At first glance, Wooden's often-quoted maxim, "Be quick—but don't hurry" seems contradictory. In actuality, it could not be more accurate.

When we are relaxed and "in our zone," we can be quick. Everything flows. Everything is effortless. The activity is fun. When we hurry, we make mistakes. We stumble, and find ourselves having to re-do and re-think.

The previous afternoon, I was trying to hurry. The next morning, I was quick. The task was the same. The difference is what was work one day became play the next.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is jump into a task and get it done. Sometimes, the best thing to do is step back, relax, and plan. I think that experience made me better at distinguishing the one from the other.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both.
- James Michener

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

From Google Reader to Feedly

What is "RSS" and what is an "aggregator"?
Reading blogs is a great way to stay on top of what is happening in your field, regardless of what that field may be. The problem becomes that the more good blogs you identify, the more time is required to visit each one. The solution is called "RSS" (really simple syndication). While the concept has been around for quite a few years, the vast majority of people don't know about it.

To use RSS, you select a piece of software called an "aggregator." Using the aggregator, you "subscribe" to the blogs you like. The aggregator continuously checks each of your blogs for you and compiles all of the new content in one place. On a day-to-day basis, all you do is visit the aggregator. All of the new material is there, waiting for you.

Enter Google Reader
Just over four years ago, I began using Google Reader as my aggregator. I wrote about my start in this post. For over four years, Google Reader has allowed me to identify the sources from which I want to learn, and then it has corralled content from those sources. From there, all I had to do was look in one place. As of July 1, that one place will be gone.

On March 13, many thousands of us clicked on Google Reader and saw the image you see above. In the hours that followed, blog posts were lighting up with anything from disbelief to outrage, to the feeling than the sunsetting of Google Reader was inevitable. How did I learn of these posts? The same way I have learned about so much else for over four years...through Google Reader.

How ironic it was to learn of the demise of Google Reader on Google Reader. What was even more ironic was to learn about alternatives to Google Reader by reading Google Reader. One after another, blog posts began to talk about "" Before the day was out, I was up and running with my own Feedly account.

Getting started
Creating an account at was quick and easy. Immediately, Feedly wanted to access my Google Reader and bring in all of the subscriptions. Instantly, Feedly was displaying all of the unread articles from Google Reader. Clicking on "Saved" revealed all of the articled I had "starred" in Google Reader for later reading.

When I reached the bottom of the page, I saw a small "mark page as read" link. Clicking it and refreshing the page cleared all of the articles and presented me with the next page of fresh, unread ones.

I quickly found that clicking the ribbon icon on any article marked it as "saved." This action was the parallel to "starring" an item in Google Reader. When accessing Feedly, clicking on "Saved" in the left-hand column took me to the items I had marked to save for later reading. Clicking the ribbon icon on a saved article toggled it to "unsaved," causing it to disappear from the list.

Be sure to visit the "Preferences" link in the left-hand column. Experiment with the "Default View." You can choose between magazine, condensed, mosaic, cards, or full articles.I would recommend trying each one to see which you like best.

Mobile App
On my Android phone, I downloaded the Feedly app from Google Play. An app for iPhone is also available. You will want to visit the "Preferences" menu on the mobile app. I accessed it by touching an icon in the upper-left corner of the screen. On the "Advanced Settings" in the Preferences menu, I checked "Auto Mark as Read," so that when I read or scroll past an article, unless I mark it as "saved," it's gone the next time I access Feedly.

You may want to adjust the "Article Font Size." Also, experiment with the "Default View" to see what appearance you like best.
Our mobile devices allow us to function from anywhere. In most cases, however, we work best at our desktop computers. It's hard for a single, small screen to keep pace with my large dual-monitor setup. It's hard for two thumbs on a piece of glass to do what the fingers of two hands can do on a keyboard. 

Using Feedly on my phone is proving to be an even better experience than viewing it on my computer. For this reason, reading Feedly becomes something I can do from anywhere. Because I can read just one article or the entire feed during any given session, it becomes a perfect option for filling spare minutes. I can read it while in line at the grocery store or waiting for an appointment.

Passing good content on to others through social networking is important. I am able to that so as easy from my phone as I can on my desktop computer. Icons allow for instant sharing on Facebook or Twitter. Another icon allows me to share an article through other options.

Google ReaderFor example, I use Hootsuite on my desktop to organize social media content. I also have a Hootsuite app on my phone. While reading an article in Feedly, I can choose to share an article through Hootsuite. Hootsuite lets me decide whether the article goes to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, or any combination thereof. In addition, I am able to schedule a day and time when the item will be shared.

One of the features sure to become a favorite is Feedly's appearance You see beautiful images together with the title and snippet of each article. You skim articles by simply sliding through them with a thumb. Sliding upwards advances to the next article or page. Sliding downwards allows you to move backwards. Tapping on a article opens it.

Every cloud has a silver lining
Seeing the announcement that Google Reader was sunsetting struck a note of fear in the hearts of many thousands. But, the same day, I was introduced to something better. As a bonus, because all of the talk in the media about Google Reader sunsetting and the alternatives available, droves of people who had never heard of RSS are being introduced to it. You may be one of them.

Get started today
You may want to print this post. Or, you may open a new browser window so that you can have this post available as you set up your Feedly account. The content will make so much more sense when you read it while viewing Feedly at the same time.

Go to and create an account. If you already have Google Reader, you will be prompted to bring its content into Feedly. If not, click on the "add websites" button in the left-hand column. There, you will be given suggestions of sites to add. You can use the search window to enter the title or url of a blog you like. You could enter my name, "Frank Buck," or my url "" to add it to Feedly.

Go to your phone and tablet to download the Feedly app. Log in using your username and password. On any of your devices, visit the "Preferences" menu, as we discussed earlier.

Every day, I learn something new. Often, I learn it from someone I never met. The knowledge is out there and free for the taking. Every one of us can get better at whatever it is we do. Every day, other people are posting great ideas which can help us on our various journeys. Tools such as Feedly allow all the great content to go one place. That deal is too good not to take.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

Does Work Actually Happen at Work?

Where does work happen? For the knowledge worker, the answer is typically "at the office." However, as technology has made us more connected and allows us to collaborate on projects from different locations, "home" has become an option for many. The topic of working from home versus working at the office has been in the headlines recently as Yahoo! CEO, Marissa Mayer, put an to end the work-from-home program and insists that people come to the office.

In this TEDx Talk, Jason Fried makes the case that the office is the worst place to actually do work. As you listen to his argument, see how many of the bad practices he highlights are alive and well where you work.

Fried's talk centers around the interruptive culture in most offices. Working from somewhere else eliminates them.

On the other hand, when we are in the same location and looking eyeball-to-eyeball, we can hold each other accountable. We can bounce ideas off of each other. We can validate the old saying "Two heads are better than one." How many times have the best and most creative ideas happened when you and someone else were communicating in a face-to-face setting? How often has the motivation to move forward come as a result of human contact?

I found Fried's talk to be filled with points that accurately describe the culture in so many offices. It's a talk to watch again and again as we remind ourselves that smart people often do things which inhibit productivity.

If we value the other peoples' time and structure practices which demonstrate that respect, we really can get work done "at work."

What did you hear in this that you could implement in your own office?

Friday, March 15, 2013

ClassDojo Simplifies Classroom Mangement Documentation

Classroom management is an essential part of teaching. Without a strategy to show students what behaviors result in a productive environment and a plan to reinforce expectations, a classroom can turn into chaos in no time. Part of a good classroom management plan is a way to document both positive and negative behaviors, report to parents on a regular basis, and use the system to provide both incentives and sanctions to reinforce your expectations. The problem becomes the time and paperwork involved in managing the system.

As a teacher and principal, I saw what was involved in both elementary and secondary settings. After all was said and done, parents sometimes got no more feedback than a grade of "A," "B," "C," "D," or "F." Sometimes that came only at the end of the grading period. At the elementary level, the "weekly folder" included a vehicle for reporting conduct in a current time frame. All of that came with its share of paperwork.

What if we could automate the process so that teachers simply record positive or negative behaviors as they occur with a couple of mouse clicks? What if  the software could handle the rest? provides exactly that.

At the beginning of the year, the teacher creates classes and enters student names and parent email addresses. More than likely, the school's student information system will allow the printing of a list of those parent email addresses.

When the teacher logs in and clicks on that particular class, an avatar for each student appears together with the number points earned during the week.

To give either a commendation or correction, the teacher simply clicks the name and chooses the behavior being displayed. The teacher can, of course, customize the choices.

As soon as the teacher makes a selection, the student's name appears briefly on the screen along with whether they gained or lost a point and for what reason. Points can be awarded to multiple students, or even the entire class, at one time.

Students are able to establish an account, allowing them to log in and see all points awarded or deducted and their percentage of positive points for the week. After the teacher enters the names of the students at the beginning of the year, a simple report will generate a code for each student.

Likewise, another reports will generate a slip to send home to parents giving them a login:

When a student logs in, here is how his or her report will appear:

By the way, the student is able to customize the avatar, one of those small details which adds a great deal of interest for the student and gives a feeling of having some control.

At the end of the week, each parent receives an email with a link to the report. No more having to send home something paper-based and hope that it actually makes it to the parent!

The report the parent sees is very much like what the student sees:

Having been a principal and seen all of the paperwork with which teachers had to deal, I constantly looked for ways to streamline processes. This site does just that in the area of classroom management. Plus. it adds a bit of fun to the whole process. For a blog devoted to organization and time management, ClassDojo is a perfect fit.

My first thought was to schedule this post for late June, during the summer break. It would coincide with the time teachers are planning for the start of school. But this post appears closer to spring break instead, and for an important reason. 

You want to start the year with a good classroom management plan. You want to have thought every detail. You want the plan to flow smoothly. Classroom management is too important to institute something which must shortly be revamped.

The spring offers you the opportunity to pilot the idea on a small scale. Perhaps one teacher could give it a try and see what "kinks" appear. A middle school teacher could try it with just one class. You might leave off the parent component right now. In fact, you might start with just the in-class visuals. Perhaps after a couple of weeks, introduce the student login, so that students can see a report of how they did for the week.

The idea is that when school starts, there should be no question marks about how you will implement this program. You want this idea to make your life simpler,,,less paperwork and better classroom management. 

If you are already using, I would be interested in hearing from you. Please leave a comment. What do you like about it? What don't you like? What advice would you give someone else who is thinking about using it?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Claiming Your Brand

There was a time when choosing a username was something to which you did not give a second thought. You typed in the first thing that came to mind. If that name was not available and the site suggested something else, you took it. Those days are gone, or at least they should be. Whether it's Twitter or YouTube or Blogger, we want something that identifies us, a single name that identifies us across the web.

I found very quickly that "Frank Buck" had already been taken on a number of fronts, not to mention the fact that I share that name with a famous wild animal hunter from days gone by. Happily, Blogger was a notable exception. I also discovered that adding a title in front of my name gave me something that no other "Frank Buck" seemed to have. So, "DrFrankBuck," with well-placed capital letters, became my "brand" across the web.

Are you struggling with the same question, trying to find one username you can use universally? If so, namechk is the site for you. There is no registration. Simply enter the username you are considering and click "chk." Namechk returns an "available" or "taken" result for up to 160 different sites.

Want to view a "taken" site? Click on its icon and you will be viewing the Twitter feed, Facebook page, or YouTube collection for the person with that name. Start your search with a short list of possibilities and in just a couple of minutes, you should have pegged a brand for yourself. If you are looking for a time-saver, this is one!

While you are at it, are you thinking about a website domain name? Take a look at Panabee. Enter the words you are interested in having in the domain name. Panabee shows you what is taken and what is not.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shore Up Weakness or Play from Strengths?

John Maxwell's writings have inspired countless readers the world over. His positive message, wrapped in beautiful prose, makes reading his books a delight. My favorite is Maxwell's The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.
Time Management

At one point in the book, John Maxwell discusses the idea of strengths versus weaknesses. In the book, he suggests how we should focus our energies:
  • Focus 70% of your time and energy on strengths
  • Focus 25 % on new things
  • Focus 5% on weaknesses
Maxwell's suggestion is simple: Play from your strengths. Furthermore, it echoes the message of many leadership and management books. As just one example, in the hallmark book, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker talks of making strengths productive, and doing so in such a way that it makes weaknesses irrelevant.

Playing from our strengths is the opposite of what we are usually encouraged to do. In our jobs, the typical evaluation system is designed to identify our weaknesses and lead us through the formation of a plan to improve them. In the end, we may find ourselves with no glaring weaknesses, but also with no real strengths either.

Would we really encourage Tom Hanks to focus more on his mathematical skills, since he has acting pretty well mastered? Would we have had Jonas Salk spend more time working on a better bedside manner and less time perfecting a vaccine for polio? Would we encourage Nick Saban to take singing lessons and spend less time studying football film? What about encouraging Elton John to spend his time learning more about football and less time perfecting his music?

Certainly I am not in favor of overlooking flaws which significantly hinder performance. Ignoring strengths while continuously focusing on weaknesses, however, is a formula for mediocrity.

Ask people what they want from life, and "happiness" usually tops the list. It is something for which we all long, and something seen as the reward for work well-done. For most of us, we are happier when we are doing what we do well. It is also in focusing on the areas at which we excel that we are able to contribute best to the world around us.

What about our weaknesses? Can we delegate them to someone else who is strong in that area? Can you "swap out," and handle for someone else an area where you are strong and he/she is weak while that person does the same for you? Does the weakness necessarily need to be addressed at all? If the impact is not terribly negative, ignoring it may be the best alternative.
Time Management

When we make our New Year's Resolutions, the exercise is typically a reminder of where we fall short rather than an examination of what we have accomplished and how we can most likely accomplish even more in the coming year.

What is it that you do well? How could you move that skill to the next level? Those two questions just may be the key to a happier and more productive time ahead for you and those whose lives you impact. "Good enough" is not good, and it's rarely enough. Each of us is capable of excellence. I think Maxwell is correct when he argues it comes as a result of playing from our strengths.

Friday, March 08, 2013

More Than Music

A friend of mine, Wayne Washam, often said, "There are some kids the band needs, and there are some kids who need the band." This video spotlights a young man who started as one and became the other. It is a true story from early in my teaching career. Thanks to Eye on Education for the technical assistance they provided in helping bring this story to you.

March is "Music in Our School Month." It's an opportunity to focus on the part music plays in our schools if we are truly committed to educating children who grow up whole. I'll never forget the words of a former superintendent who said, "How many music questions are there on the (high-stakes) test?" I had to hold my tongue to keep from saying, "None...and it's a shame."

We are in a period where the pressure is on to teach to the test to the exclusion of all else. There needs to be a voice that says preparation for a rich life, not to mention a well-rounded childhood, includes far more than that which can be neatly included on a bubble test.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Say "Yes" or Say "No." You're Really Saying Both

Education is a "helping" profession, and those who embark on a career in this arena have the natural tendency to say "yes." Whether the request is to provide extra help to a student, serve on a committee, complete whatever paperwork appears, or do all of these at the same time, we are a people who tend to say "yes" first and figure out how we will accomplish it later. After all, doesn't saying "no" make us seem uninterested, uncaring, and selfish?

In today's world, the demands on our time generally exceed what is available. Choices must be made as to what gets done and what is left undone. When we say "yes" to one request, we are ultimately saying "no" to all else available to us at the moment. Therefore, the question becomes not one of whether we say "yes" or say "no," but which request get which answer.

Why is it that when we are saying "yes," so often we wind up feeling bad. Perhaps the answer is that, at some level, we realize more important responsibilities received a "no." Consider the veteran teacher approached during instructional time by a well-intending agency representative with the request to compose a memo, and to do so right then. Saying "yes" to this request meant saying "no" to the instruction which should be happening in that classroom. The teacher wrote the memo yet felt bad about having to choose between two poor alternatives--saying "no" to the agency representatives or saying "no" to the students.

We need not feel bad about saying "no." In fact, it is a necessary tool in our arsenal of time-management tools. Without the word "no," our time will never be our own. Instead, it will be free for asking by those who scream longest and loudest and present themselves at our doorstep the most often.

As leaders, we help those around us reach their goals by helping them understand that saying "no" is not only OK, it is an absolute necessity if they are ever to accomplish anything of significance. Today, you will encounter opportunities to make the day significant. You will also encounter the trivial disguised in royal garb. Will you be able to distinguish the one from the other? Will you be able to say "no" to the one and "yes" to the other?

Say "yes" or say "no," you are always saying both.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Thoughts for "Music in Our Schools Month"

I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.
                                                  —John F. Kennedy

March is "Music in Our Schools Month." Now, more than ever, our schools are called upon to graduate students who can do much more than memorize facts which can be yielded by any Google search. We want students to think new thoughts, to create, and to innovate. Music is a vital part of this process. March is "Music in Our School Month" and provides the opportunity to spotlight this vital, yet often ignored part of growing up whole.

Enjoy this group of 5th graders from Staten Island, New York. They comprise the "PS22 Chorus."

Friday, March 01, 2013

Why Was "So God Made a Farmer" So Powerful?

Earlier this week, we looked at a Super Bowl commercial that probably missed the mark. Today's subject is one that tugged at our heartstrings, and turned out to be the most talked-about commercial of the day. The voice is unmistakeable...Paul Harvey. The message is unforgettable.

So God made a farmer...

On Nancy Duarte's blog, Paula Tesch authors a post arguing this ad was really a "presentation in disguise." The commercial includes no special effects. Instead, we hear a strong voice telling a great story, backed with great pictures.

I invite you to read the post entitled "The Most Talked About Super Bowl Commercial Was a Presentation in Disguise."

What makes a presentation powerful? One of my favorite TED Talks was given by Nancy Duarte. She outlines what makes a presentation compelling. She goes on to use Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech as an example. Here is that TED Talk:

Now that you have heard "So God make a farmer," what made it powerful for you?