Have a Passionate Start (but get to the point fast)
People will start to hear… “BLA BLA BLA” if you don’t get their attention fast. In most cases, you want your audience to remember what you said, (and why) not where you were born. So, don’t spend 15 minutes talking about your qualifications. Think short and sweet. You only have a few minutes to get them locked in. Use this intro time to quickly intro yourself and explain your passion and the importance of the presentation. Put emotion into it, engage them with eye contact. Don’t stay behind a podium if you can keep from it. Step out and move closer, and for goodness sakes smile, if the content allows for it.Remember, people come to enjoy your presentation and learn. That’s why they’re sitting in front of you. So don’t try to talk them out of it.
Golf or Tennis anyone? If you have taken any lessons for any sport, you would have heard about proper form. If we want to increase the distance of our golf swing, do we practice it sitting down? No, because that’s not the way you will be positioned in a real game. Yet so many people will work so hard on creating a killer presentation, and they practice it all wrong.Sure you can sit in front of your computer and read it over and over to your desk lamp. But in order to get it to it’s best, you need people to sit in front of you. Who? ANYONE. Just grab a couple of friends, maybe people that do what you do. Present it and then ask for a critique. Write it ALL down and see if it helps. At the very least, just doing it in front of others will give you a better feel for your timing and help you find glitches and give you a very confident vibe. So you will be less stressed when you’re on a stage and your lamp and stapler have turned into real people!
Text vs. Imagery
Let’s start with an example: You’re talking about how bad the pollution is in the world’s oceans. You start by reading a list of 12 bullet points, and as you read them, the same list is also on the screen in text form. This is not nearly as memorable as having one or two slides with just a large emotional image of sea life being impacted by our trash, with you passionately conveying the tragedy of it. Yes, there are certain times you want to have a long bulleted list onscreen, so people can copy it down … maybe 🙂 But, there is a deeper river here, one that will engage them on an emotional level to such a degree that they will make sure they look you up and research what you’re showing them. It will make them become a follower, not just a person with a piece of paper with bullets on it that they put in a drawer and forget about. I usually tell people within the first minute that I will make sure they can get a PDF of the whole presentation afterward. This frees people up to LISTEN and THINK, not worry about writing something they don’t even need to write.Remember, people never say, “WOW those were some great looking bulleted lists!”. People remember emotion best, and that will trigger the memory of the message.
No more CLIPART, please!
Use great photos, not clip art. I have extensive experience in Art and Design and I can tell you that people are not buying your products, listening to you, following you because you use those “cute little chubby faceless stick figure people” on your slides. Get some help from someone in a creative field, or hire a designer to at least find a handful of images you can use on your slides. Try big bold emotional images. Buy them on shutterstock.com for example. It’s affordable, and you instantly look better. Clipart can clip your bottom line more than buying pro images will.
You don’t have to keep looking at the screen to see what slide you’re on or what to say. And you don’t have to just hope you remember that great idea you had right before you walked on stage. Some people teach that it’s better to not use them. After all, it’s true you want to show you know your stuff, but I strongly disagree about never using cue cards. You can still show you know what you’re speaking about, and have a passion for it and look professional. It just shows you care enough to be organized.Cards help you stay on track. They keep you from rambling on and getting lost. You can also make notes to yourself about things, like what the next slide is going to be, or where to talk softer or louder, and so many things! Just hold them in hand, and glance at them. In the end, with cue cards, your presentation will be much more professional and easier to design and CHANGE. Of course, a tablet/iPad can be used, but cue cards don’t require batteries.
Not a designer? NO PROBLEM!
Just use a simple template but NOT one that looks overly ancient. Keep it very simple. Remember it’s not about “wowing” people with a slide’s complexity or bedazzlement’s, it’s about connecting what you’re saying with emotion and passion allowing your information to reach the target and be remembered. If you have a small budget get a Graphic Designer to look it over and tweak your idea or what you have already done. It should be affordable to just get a Designer to look it over, make notes and let you fix it.
A Presentation’s Anatomy?
What makes up a good presentation? Is there a particular structure? Well, I make a storyboard with cards laying them out on the table and make sure I usually have 3 main sections… Introduction(who I am and what the topic is and something funny), The heart of the matter(all the data I need to share and try to connect my audience with it emotionally) and Summing it all up(with a final thought) This final thought is so very important. I must crystallize what I want to leave them with. I find this can make or break it. It’s usually a story I create or have heard that emotionally hits the ball out of the park maybe a very strong quote from someone else. To crystallize the moment is key. They will always remember you and the essence of what you shared.
In almost 90% of the presentations, I have given the venues screen (either projection or TV) was always too bright and had horrid contrast. If I use the wrong combination of background and text colors, it’s almost always visually lost when played, due to bad contrast on the presentation screen. So just try to watch that by testing. I just make sure I never use light color text unless it’s on a very dark background.
Record your work.
Yes, record or video your presentations regularly. When you review them get those cue cards out. Make notes and edit things to improve the end results.
Transition your sales, not your slides (less is more)
We truly want our presentations to shine and impress. But so often we tend to major on the minors. Well designed things put value where it’s supposed to be and create answers, or solutions, not problems. So adding different styles to every slide tradition and text animation in a presentation or video makes it more about the software than it is about your information. Just use a simple Cross-Fade to transition, and don’t use a different transition for every slide, be consistent. Next time you are talking to some friends at a coffee shop make sure you spin on your heel 3 times and say SWOOSH before each sentence. You will see what I mean when they say, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING! ARE YOU CRAZY?”
Remember a great presentation is not just a list of features or benefits it’s about connecting with people and giving them what they want, which is something to remember. It’s about not making roadblocks between you and your audience. Create an emotional experience!