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When The Pressure Is On: Presentation Design for the Nixon Presidential Museum and Library

Posted on October 17, 2016

When The Pressure Is On: Presentation Design for the Nixon Presidential Museum and Library

Last weekend I got a call from my colleague Jason Lawrence from Advanced Media Works to help put a presentation together for the relaunch of the Richard Nixon Presidential Museum and Library. The details were thin but the pressure was on! I was to drive up and work on site starting Monday and the presentation was on Thursday.

I was introduced to my key contacts, Dwight Chapin, Nixon’s former Appointment Secretary and Frank Gannon, the author who worked with Nixon on his original memoir. The presentation was going to be all about the redesign of the museum as told by the various vendors who had worked on this massive project.

At first glance, it appeared to be a “show and tell” of the vendors’ past projects followed by their design concept drawings, and finally the completed museum images. I wanted to give them my best, but I was a bit intimidated by the caliber of the people in the room. Finally, during our first lunch together, I decided to take the plunge and share my philosophy on formulating a winning presentation. I explained that first I uncover “why we are so passionate” and then look for the gift we want to give the audience. Dwight and Frank were immediately intrigued. We started talking about what the overarching goal of the museum redesign had been. Frank recalled that they wanted museum visitors to say about President Nixon, “I didn’t know he did so much”, “I didn’t know he was so interesting”, and “I didn’t know he did so many important things”.

I instantly knew that this was their “why” and we had our story. We agreed that the goal for the audience was:

  • to gain an appreciation for the time and thought that had gone into this process
  • to understand how the new museum fostered exploration, inquiry, challenge old thoughts and lead to new impressions

And to do this, we needed to frame the story to bring the audience along with the discovery, research, design and finally the build out of this amazing new museum.

I am honored to have had the opportunity to share my expertise with the Nixon Presidential Museum and Library. When the pressure was on, it served us all well.