Blog > Insanely Great Slideshows – the story so far

June 26, 2009

Since the age of 16 I wanted to be an agricultural journalist.

OK, that was after I decided that the prospect of becoming an astro-photographer was probably unlikely. I can still remember at about the age of oh, maybe 10 or 11, standing in the kitchen with my mum. She had on a green and white apron and there was lots of flour. She was baking. There were some of her friends there. Or maybe only one, I can’t quite remember. What I DO remember was an adult asking me that age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up, dear?” When I answered, quite seriously, “I’d really love to be an astro-photographer” there were guffaws of laughter. I couldn’t work out what they were laughing at, and I’m pretty sure my mum was horrified. She’d made it quite clear I could do anything I wanted. I’ve included this picture of the Iris nebula, 1300 light years away in the constellation Cepheus, because my mum’s name was Iris.Iris Nebula

As it turns out, becoming an agricultural journalist was no walk in the park either. I decided to learn agriculture first, then work out how to do the journalism bit. While I was fortunate to have worked out what I wanted to do at an early age, the obstacles seemed endless.

I’m not so good at science subjects. I struggled with chemistry, didn’t much like physics, quite enjoyed maths until I got a teacher who took all the joy out of it. I enjoyed english and geography and social science subjects. These days you can combine them. Then, way back in the dark ages of secondary education, it was maths/science or arts. Either or. Yes, but…

I wrote to every tertiary institute offering agriculture in Australia and New Zealand (this was way before computers and the internet) to find out the entrance requirements. Every single one of them said maths/science. So there was nothing for it, but to select maths/science, wave goodbye (metaphorically) to all my friends, my joy of learning and that wondrous sense of capability, and embrace subjects that I struggled with daily to understand. Of course, I still had english and a marvelous teacher who made everything else worthwhile.

Then there was the little matter of applying for agriculture courses. This was the early 1970s. Young women took up nursing or teaching or business, sometimes. Certainly not agriculture. Finally I found one that was accepting women, it was four hours drive away so it meant living away from home. I was in the first intake of women to be allowed to live on campus. That was after an Act of Parliament had to be changed. Did I mention there were a few obstacles?

Freisan Heifer on Road

So, agriculture finally sorted, I started on the pursuit of journalism. I landed on my feet with a job that provided me with journalism cadetship and working with some of the most talented people on the planet. This is where my love of words was nurtured, and where I discovered much more – typography, design, layout. And remember, I’d wanted to be a photographer once, so I already had a love of visual arts and images.

On to university for a degree in media studies where I discovered a subject called ‘Cinema Studies’. It involved watching movies, every Tuesday afternoon. Classic movies. And talking about them on Wednesday evening. How I loved that subject. I discovered subtext and storytelling and how movies reflect the world, cultures and events.

A few more jobs, branching away from, yet still connected to, my agricultural journalism roots. The ’80s & ’90s provided ample opportunity to be bold and creative, and in the mid 90s I started my own business, and completed a Masters in Agriculture & Rural Development. This was a real turning point. A self-directed adult learning masters with some fantastic professors who provided – and still do – amazing inspiration.

And so we fast forward to the present. I’m now a facilitator and a wannabe screenwriter. Along the way I’ve discovered improvised theatre, blogging and the Web 2.0 world. I’m fortunate to do work with fantastic people, sometimes in amazing places. My work has taken me all over Australia and to 13 other countries. Not a huge number in the grand scheme of things, but an extraordinary number for me who never expected such opportunities would emerge.

This week Geoff Brown and I delivered our Insanely Great Slideshow training. I’m loving this work, for a number of reasons. I get to deliver this with a friend, so much more fun than working alone. I get to indulge my love of typography, design, and photography (pity the love isn’t matched by talent, but it’s never stopped me in the past!) And there’s all the Web 2.0 connections – Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen fame, Nancy Duart of slide:ology fame who inspire; Slideshare to see what’s possible. It’s also about communicating, sharing messages, changing hearts and minds with story and emotion (much better than bullets!) And an opportunity to learn and build my own skills, to maybe inspire others.

And here’s my all-time favourite slideshow, using dynamic type.

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