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Human Being Soup

copper bowl of soup.jpg

The Project


I created this Pecha Kucha inspired Power Point for a group of Information Technology (IT) professionals at the CU Tech Connect conference.  I used a lot of the principles I have been taught in this course including creating dark backgrounds and simplified visuals in the style of Steve Jobs.  I followed the teachings of Garr Reynolds (2012) in crafting a story that included a struggle (p.84).  The point of this presentation was to improve the awareness of IT professionals and their leadership.  I called them Designers of our Digital Environment.  


Excerpted from my blog:


How could I out-tech the techies and shine?  The answer was I couldn't.  


So I took a risk and ran in the other direction.   I took a soft, touchy-feely approach for a bunch of Star Wars fans and gamers.  And it worked.


Human Being Soup

My slide deck had no bullet points; barely any text at all.  I let single images, one after another fill the entire screen and I spoke of spiritual ideals.  The title of my lightening talk was "Human Being Soup."  I asked the audience to imagine that when a baby is born a spoonful of magic soup is poured into it and the child gets various characteristics from this soup like perhaps a funny sounding laugh, a tendency to drool during sleep, a preference for salty foods and such.  This baby grows into a child and then adulthood and old age, and finally dies at which time the magic soup is extracted from this body and poured back into a giant bowl.  This spoonful is spicier, perhaps sweeter or bland or even bitter depending on how the person behaved throughout their lifetime.  If they kicked cats, or brought extra garden vegetables to the neighbors or helped out a stranger whose car had broken down or listened to a whining friend in need or abused a waitress.  All these behaviors influenced the flavor of the soup.  And the clincher was...the spoonful went back into the bowl and the next baby born got a spoonful from that same bowl.  Their spoon came from that legacy mixture.  


I received unprompted positive feedback from some members of the group.  My favorite word was "enlightening."  I heard others say that they had never looked at things from that perspective before.  Based on random comments, I believe that at least some portion of the group gained an improved awareness.  

I like to think that much of the impact I had on the audience was because they became vividly engaged in my story.  They followed this baby into old age and understood that she had an influence on the world around her and after her lifetime.  I hope that this was an example of Reynolds  term "lost in the moment." (2012, p. 219)

Lessons Learned

If I had this to do again, I would have informally surveyed the audience with a show of hands using some key questions to get a feel for how much awareness they had around accessibility before and after the talk.  I did get a question about where to find specific training for IT professionals on how to incorporate accessibility into their work.  In retrospect, I should have included that onscreen.   


Reynolds, G. (2012). Presentation zen: Simple ideas on presentation design and delivery. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

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