Over at Keppie Careers, my friend Miriam Salpeter has posted a lovely piece in appreciation of Mr. Russert's interpersonal and communication skills. I remember his smile and easy manner; I once spotted him enjoying a quiet beer and a few laughs at the Hawk and Dove near Capitol Hill.
But more than that, I remember his election night skills and his legacy--the white board. As technology and poll tracking improved dramatically in 2000 and 2004, Mr. Russert always referred to a simple whiteboard with a dry erase pen to explain the results to the American public. He showed us how his math worked as if he were our third grade math teacher--and made the complex simple. I'll never forget the election of 2000, when at least one network called Florida for "Gore" and then retracted. In the end, Mr. Russert's white board prediction that the election would hinge on "Florida, Florida, Florida" was correct--and it was four long weeks before we truly knew our next President.
As I write, the polls are closing. Many statistics buffs, analysts, pundits and journalists are scrambling to access what's happened, and I'm thinking about how Mr. Russert's legacy extends beyond politics to strong relationships and presentations of elegant simplicity.
I can only imagine that he'd be an advocate of the 3 x 5 rule for making PowerPoint presentations: no more than three bullet points per slide and five words per line. Next time you have a chance to attend a conference, evaluate the effectiveness of the speakers presentation techniques: In your opinion, what's more effective--having extensive slides with all the notes included onscreen, or a sparse presentation high on substance and low on bells and whistles? What works for you, and do you have any presentation role models or tips you'd like to share?