creativity under less-than-ideal conditionsBeing creative is tough enough under the best conditions. But most of us don’t have the “best” conditions. We often attempt to create great things but end up stymied by the less-than-ideal conditions around us. Technical problems, lighting issues, hardware nightmares and user confusion can turn our best creations (the ones that looked or sounded great on our own screens or speakers) into unrecognizable messes when we try to share them with others.

Mike Brown recently shared a post on Blogging Innovation about being creative under bad conditions. He started by talking about how the music group Hall and Oates always listened to their studio recording mixes on the worst speakers, because if music sounds good there, it’ll sound good anywhere. That same philosophy applies to anything creative that you’re working on: whatever you’re creating, be sure that the output will still be good even under bad conditions. Keep the worst-case-scenario conditions in mind when you’re creating, and you won’t be disappointed later! Mike advises:

  • If you’re creating a PowerPoint presentation, try it out on a tiny screen with a bad LCD projector in a dim room to make sure it really looks as good as you think it does.
  • If you’re making a print document with pretty charts and graphics in it, print it in black and white and then make photocopies, and then photocopy the photocopies. That way, you’ll be able to tell if the graphics are still clear enough to read and the points are still made as you intended them.
  • If you’re making a video presentation for a meeting, play the audio alone (no video) and then the video alone (no sound) to make sure it makes sense either way. A common AV problem with presentations involves having trouble with either the video or the sound, so having a presentation that works even without one of those two elements is helpful.
  • If you’re designing a cool website with lots of neat stuff on it, test it on every browser you can, even the one available on a PDA made a couple of years ago.
  • If you’re writing a lengthy memo with lots of details in it, get some third party perspective. Find someone who hasn’t been involved in what you’re writing about and have them read just the first and last paragraphs of your memo to see if they understand what you’re trying to say.

These tips for creativity under less-than-ideal conditions can help ensure that your creations stand up to whatever glitches, malfunctions and issues might come your way. Good luck!

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