Garr Reynolds, on his consistently useful Presentation Zen blog, has a handy and helpful recent post, 10 Tips on how to think like a designer. The ideas and insights he presents have applicability to a wide audience, which was his intention. Whether you are designing a presentation or anything else that people will have to look at and understand, you’re likely to discover things that will help you consider your project in new ways. One of the most provocative tips is the first: embrace constraints. The inclination for most of us is to complain about what we weren’t given to do something, rather than to focus on how to make the best of the situation. Reynolds suggests cold realism instead: “Your problem is what it is. How can you solve it given the resources and time that you have?” Reaching into Zen – Reynolds is based in Japan – tip #3 is to adopt the beginner’s mind. That way you are open and receptive to fresh new ideas and concepts because you are not jaded and shackled by your own experience. In a related manner, he suggests we sharpen our awareness and curiosity of the wonders all around us, all the time. “Good designers are skilled at noticing and observing,” he writes. “They are able to see both the big picture and the details of the world around them.” A running theme through some of the tips is to remember that what you are designing is about the audience — however that is defined — not you. Try to be empathetic and see things from their point of view. I enjoyed Reynolds’ 2008 book presentationzen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. His next book, presentation zen Design: Basic design principles & techniques for the non-designer, will be published in November.