Most presentations benefit from a question-and-answer session (Q&A). Audience members appreciate this time to get clarification, share comments or ideas, and get deeper information on key concepts. However, because the Q&A feels less formal than the main presentation, many speakers neglect to prepare for this time. In reality, the Q&A requires just as much preparation as any other section of your talk.
I was giving a presentation yesterday to a group of 30 major account sales professionals from a global company. For many in the room, English was their second language, so there was somewhat of a gap in our communication. Greater than the adjustments I made to my content and delivery—speaking slower, repeating key ideas, checking in with them often—were the powerful slides I created filled with photos, models, graphics, and quotes that added to the storyline and significantly narrowed the gap between us. After fifty slides I asked them which slides they remembered, and everyone in the room had a few favorites. It got me to thinking…I wonder why Obama and Romney don’t get on-board with PowerPoint? I wonder if these kinds of richly designed visuals would support their appeal to their listeners and reach the broader culture.
Then this morning I came across this article: 71 Compelling & Surprising PowerPoint Tips from the Pros, which, as the title suggests, lists 71 tips all presenters and PowerPoint users should know.
Since it’s already too late for either candidate to re-think their speaking strategy for this election, perhaps we can all just muse on the possibility of the candidates applying some of the 71 compelling tips in the future. It may make future elections more interesting.
Visual aids like PowerPoint are an important part of any business presentation. When done correctly, they strengthen your presentation by boosting audience understanding. In fact, research shows that listeners remember key messages conveyed with the help of visual aids more than six times better after a period of three days than they do messages that were simply presented verbally. The following visual helps put the numbers in perspective.
|Retention After 3 Hours||Retention After 3 Days|
Show and Tell
Do you want to show off your skills at creating effective PowerPoint slides? My friends at www.Presentation-Process.com are hosting a Creative Diagram Contest 2012. To win, all you have to do is create a visual presentation slide and tell them how you did it.
First, create Before & After Slides: Take a screenshot of a 'usual' slide. Makeover the slide with your most creative diagram idea in PowerPoint. Take a screenshot again. Write a few lines on how the diagram solves the issues with the 'usual' slide. Tell if your diagram can be used to represent any other business situation as well.
Next, create a short Tutorial (optional): Write a simple step-by-step tutorial for your diagram idea.
Finally, enter the contest: Fill in the contest entry form and upload your screenshot images. That's it!
Of course, your idea needs to be original. Their panel of judges (Ellen Finkelstein, Geetesh Bajaj, Wendy Russell, Dave Paradi, Elizabeth P. Markie, and Doug Serrano) will decide the final grand prize winners. You can also get your friends to vote on your submission and win the prize for the most popular entry.
The contest started Wednesday, May 23rd and runs until Wednesday, June 20th. You could win one of over a dozen prizes, including 750+ PowerPoint Charts & Diagrams (CEO Pack) or iSpringPro Professional PowerPoint to Flash Conversion. So get your creative ideas flowing and start designing. You could be the lucky grand prize winner! Get your entry form and full contest details here.
I recently read a Fast Company blog about a new political party in Switzerland that wants to make PowerPoint illegal. The Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP) is a new movement formed by Matthias Poehm, a professional public speaker in Switzerland. His goal is to “influence the public to put a stop to the phenomenon of idle time in the economy, industry, research and educational institutions.” To do that, he’s focusing on eliminating PowerPoint entirely. While this sounds like a bad skit from Saturday Night Live, apparently the APPP is gaining momentum. And while Poehm is making the assault on PowerPoint the focus of his platform, he states that he’s really targeting all presentation software.
So what does Poehm have against PowerPoint? His party has done studies on presentation effectiveness, and they’ve found that 85% of participants in meetings think software-based presentations are “killing motivation.” That’s why he wants to get enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot in Switzerland to outlaw the tool.
I admit that I’ve seen my share of bad PowerPoint presentations. I’m sure you’ve seen them too: slides filled with wordy sentences in teeny font, no design elements, mixed templates, mutli-layered and complex graphs and charts…it’s enough to make anyone hate PowerPoint.
But if PowerPoint is banned, what’s a speaker to use? Poehm’s suggestion: Flipcharts! While I agree that flipcharts have their place in presentations, to have flipcharts as a presenter’s sole tool may be just as bad as using poorly constructed PowerPoint slides. So rather than outlaw PowerPoint, maybe we should first focus on educating people on how to use it effectively. After all, the tool itself isn’t bad; it’s just the poor application of the tool that gives it a bad name.
Knowing this, here are a few top PowerPoint tips.
1. Prepare your material before you design your slides: Content development should always come before slide design. Therefore, brainstorm, create, organize and structure your message, and then develop your slides. This simple change of behavior will put PowerPoint where it should be—as a visual aid.
2. Create three separate documents: PowerPoint can’t be all things to all people. That’s why your speaker notes, handouts and PowerPoint slide deck should be three separate entities. Yes, this takes extra time, more organization and a bit more work, but no one said that preparing to give a great presentation was easy!
3. Design a slide deck geared for knowledge transfer: Add pictures, charts, graphs, learning models, audio and video clips and other rich images to keep your audience stimulated and engaged. Visuals are vital to knowledge transfer.
4. Consider the power of staging: Your audience relishes design, symmetry, and powerful and pleasing images. And they also need you to be as polished as your PowerPoint. Therefore, a few simple staging techniques, like making sure that your body shadows don’t block the screen, facing front and using pointers effectively, will help you feel and be more professional and more engaging.
5. Memorize your transitions: Develop, refine and memorize your transitions so that you move from slide to slide with grace and ease. Avoid the distracting behavior of constantly looking over your shoulder to see what slide is coming next.
6. Don’t read your slides: The slide is there to enhance your message and to give the audience a visual stimulus that keeps them engaged so you can pour your knowledge into their heads. You are the message and the messenger. Take heed.
The sooner everyone masters these points, the better our chances of preventing the Anti-PowerPoint Party from establishing roots here. I can’t believe I’m saying this...long live PowerPoint!
Wednesday for Women Celebrates Oprah! Oprah’s legend is…well…legendary. For 25 years, she has been the foundation of daytime TV for millions of people all over the world. And throughout it all, her presence and messages have been uplifting, inspiring and revitalizing.
I recently heard the story of a woman who purchased a pair of Oprah’s shoes at an auction. She said that whenever she feels sad or overwhelmed, she goes to her closet and steps into Oprah’s shoes. Talk about having a powerful influence on people! We all want a piece of those people who we believe have something we don’t possess—greater strength, clearer vision, goodness, talent, confidence. We seek out those people who can fill in our gaps, and for the last quarter century, Oprah has been that person for millions of people.
I have not been able to watch Oprah on a regular basis, but when I have caught her show, I am just as enthralled as everyone else. She has a natural way of communicating that draws us in. Her warm, deep voice, her broad inviting smile, and her easy tone and cadence are engaging. She is the consummate “connector.”
So when you’re looking for a communications role model, look no further than Oprah. Here is my tribute to this great woman and what she means to the world of public speaking:
O – Optimistic. Even when Oprah was covering a negative topic (failed relationships, child abuse story, unusual homicide case, etc.), she always looked for the good that could come in the future. That’s something we should all strive to do every day. So the next time you need to communicate bad news, state it, but don’t dwell on it. Instead, keep your focus on the good that will eventually come from the situation.
P – Prepared. I’ve heard that Oprah is a stickler for details and doesn’t like to be surprised. She and her producers are prepared for everything and anything that can happen during a show. Not only does she have a Plan B, but she also has a Plan C, D, E, and F. Oprah exemplifies that preparedness equals success.
R – Relevant. Oprah knows her main audience and makes every episode relevant to them. Being on her show could make anyone famous (and it has), but her guest list never strayed from the types of people and stories her viewers wanted to see. By making the information presented relevant, she earned millions of eager viewers every day.
A – Authentic. Oprah started her career as a TV news anchor, but she didn’t last long in that role because she had a hard time hiding her true self on camera. Yet, it’s her uninhibited authenticity that made her talk show a success. People tune in to watch her just as much as they tune in to watch the day’s topic. Oprah refuses to hide who she is. She cries on camera with people, shows all her emotions freely, and isn’t afraid to be her authentic self.
H – Humorous. While not a comedian, Oprah makes people laugh in her own way. She doesn’t tell jokes in the traditional manner; rather, she lets her natural humor shine through to diffuse a tense situation, make a point, and put others at ease. She shows that humor doesn’t always have to be about knee-slapping laughter.
Thank you, Oprah, for 25 amazing years…and for so many priceless pieces of presentation skills wisdom.
In my Wednesday for Women blog series, I feature stories, resources and valuable information to help women gain greater influence, power, and confidence in their professional and personal life. Please forward these weekly Wednesday blogs to the powerful women in your life. They’ll thank you for it!
The word “enchant” means to cast a spell on or bewitch; to delight or captivate utterly; to fascinate; charm. Guy Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, has given us a new spin on a more traditional approach to persuasion, influence, marketing and customer care.
Kawasaki defines enchantment as “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization or idea. The outcome of enchantment is voluntary and long lasting support that is mutually beneficial.” He adds, “The greater your goals, the greater you’ll need to change people’s hearts, minds and actions.” And then he sets out to give us a step-by-step process for creating enchanting relationships.
This book is for anyone who has ever dreamed a dream and wanted to see it materialize. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, if you work for a large enterprise, or if you’re a recent college graduate, you’ll find tips in Kawasaki’s book that will help you engage your prospects or customers so that you can compete in this changing marketplace.
With such chapters as “How to Achieve Likability,” How to Achieve Trustworthiness,” “How to Prepare,” and many others, Kawasaki gives tools for mounting a campaign that is geared to achieve your vision and goals by creating powerful relationships. The book is packed with interesting personal profiles, from everyday working people to celebrity icons such as Steve Jobs and Al Gore. And because the book took a year to write and a lifetime of experience to create, it is loaded with background research, which provides a nice balance to the short paragraph format. I especially enjoyed his “hat tips,” where he acknowledges anyone whose idea he shares.
Yes, this is a great book for the everyday entrepreneur, but is the concept of “enchantment” too soft for the C Suite? In a recent Forbes interview, Steve Denning asked Kawasaki how he communicates enchantment as a business proposition to CEOs, CFOs, and other senior leaders. How does he persuade this serious group that they too need to be in the business of enchantment?
“The best way is to use examples,” says Kawasaki. “Wouldn’t you like to have the evangelistic base of Apple or the likeability of Virgin America? Wouldn’t you like customers to trust you the way they trust Zappo’s, so that they will buy shoes, sight unseen? Even the most hard-core pencil-pushing bean-counter will have to say, ‘Yeah, I wish we were Apple or Virgin America or Zappo’s! That’s not such a bad place to be.’”
If you want to get a taste of your company’s ability to cast a spell and enchant your audience, listeners, customers, or prospects, take this test Kawasaki created: Guy’s Realistic Enchantment Aptitude Test (GREAT). Then, no matter what your results are, read Enchantment. You’ll get practical, doable suggestions that could just make your company the next Apple. Now, wouldn’t that be great!
I was flying to Houston recently and sat next to a woman who was working on…you guessed it… her PowerPoint presentation. We started up a conversation, and before she knew what I did for a living, she confessed that she really couldn’t take the time to chat because she was giving a presentation the next morning and she wasn’t ready. She sat there frantic and breathing hard and I could see her anxiety mounting. That’s when I told her that I was a presentation skills coach. I asked if I could see her PowerPoint. It was, in a word, atrocious! But it was nothing I hadn’t seen before. There were the usual offenders: Lines of text in 8-point font, lots of dense graphs, mixed up font styles and sizes, no color scheme to speak of, and no images, photos or video. For me to sit next to someone like this and not intervene would be like a doctor sitting next to someone who was having a heart attack and ignoring the signs. It’s not in my nature.
So I pulled out my laptop and showed her the PowerPoint presentation we use in our programs. Then I did a short lesson of the best practices of PowerPoint design and development. Her response? “Yeah, I’ve heard all that before!” Then she confided, “I know what to do. I even promised myself I was going to start earlier this time and make sure the PowerPoint was done well in advance so I could practice, but I ran out of time.”
Lucky for her, I was on the plane that day. I quietly asked her if I could help. She agreed. I took over her keyboard, and in less than 30 minutes we edited her deck. Without access to the internet we were limited in photo and image selection, but the final product was a whole lot better than it was before.
Then I listened to her message. Together, we made some changes there too. We came up with concrete transitions between slides, created a brand new hook and final thought, built in a few stories… and voila! She was ready to go. Her delivery was good and she has a beautiful smile and good vocal skills, but I don’t think those qualities could have saved her original PP deck. It would have sunk her presentation for sure.
So, once again, here are a few reminders to all of you who have heard all this before:
- Do develop your message first and create your slides after.
- Do use variety in the design. One photo will say more than 30 lines of 8-point text.
- Do select a template complete with colors, font style, and size that is clean, simple, relevant and consistent with your message.
- Don’t overdo it. Even with highly technical slides, edit, edit, edit.
- Don’t think your slides are more important to the audience than you are. They are not.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare!
The next day I got a phone call from my new friend. She said, “I felt really good. I didn’t blow anyone away, but at least I didn’t embarrass myself with terrible slides. And for some reason I wasn’t as nervous as I usually am.”
I travel often for my work. Maybe one day we’ll sit next to each other. If we do, don’t be alarmed if I glance over at your screen, take over your keyboard, and redo your slides. I just can’t help myself.
What do Samoan car thieves have to do with public speaking or speech writing? On April 1st I received a phone call from my son. “You’ll never guess what happened,” he said. “My car got stolen…again.”
Since it was April Fools’ Day, I figured it was a joke. After all, his car was stolen six months earlier and recovered after twelve uncertain days. How many people do you know who have a car stolen once let alone twice in less than six months? But as it turned out, this was no joke. His car was stolen while it was parked in front of his house in San Francisco. He spent a few hassled days dealing with paperwork and insurance claims before the police called him to say they found the car.
And they found his car quite by accident. According to the officer, three large men driving an old green Acura ran a stop sign. The police pulled them over and ran a check on the license plate—it was my son’s stolen car. They arrested the driver, who confessed to stealing the car, and let the other two men go. The officer then explained that the three men who stole the car were Samoans—big, big, big Samoans. So when my son got his car back it was filled with big things: three pairs of enormous Nike shoes, several shirts the size of small circus tents, a multitude of super size soda cups, one extra large belt, several half eaten pieces of red velvet cake, a large bottle of leather cleaner (I guess they were planning to clean the inside of the car), and most interesting of all, twelve large bottles of unopened Fiji water.
If you’ve read this story to this point, then it’s probably the details that have held your interest. In writing as well as public speaking, “God is in the detail,” even if the story is about car stealing, which we all would agree is not very “God like.” Details evoke images and “show” people the picture you’re trying to convey. If you’re talking about business productivity, for example, your details will help your listeners or readers feel the hustle of productivity and the rush of a sales call. Details do more than just tell people what’s going on.
In our programs we call the details “touch points”; they are the support evidence you must include to make your speech content interesting and evocative. The more details—facts, description, metaphor, imagery, anecdote, picture, graphs, humor, charts, quotes,—the more you offer your listeners or readers to keep them engaged. Details sell ideas, capture attention, and inspire others to take action.
Did the Samoan car thieves grab your attention? Or was it the Fiji water or the red velvet cake? Whatever it was I hope you are inspired to use a variety of “touch points” when you’re writing your speech.
As for the car—it has a few more dents and nicks, but it runs just fine. Maybe this experience is a good reminder for all of us to focus on one other important detail—always remember to lock your car!
I work with many people who give PowerPoint presentations. And no matter how experienced they are, invariably a few of them forget to bring (or don’t own) a remote control for advancing their PowerPoint slides. As such, whenever I’m working with clients I always take extra remotes with me and usually end up giving them away. I go through remotes faster than infants outgrow clothes. I was recently on my latest search for the newest, highest quality and best priced PowerPoint remote. You can imagine how delighted I was to learn that there’s an app for that. It’s called the i-Clickr PowerPoint Remote, and it’s available for use on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad (Apple iOS 3.1 or later), Android, Windows Mobile 6, and Windows Phone 7.
While I haven’t tried the app yet, the features and possibilities seem beneficial for busy presenters. For example, from your Smart Phone, you can have complete control of your PowerPoint presentation, including animations. You can navigate through your slides with finger swipes and taps, track your presentation time with an onboard clock, and even set a presentation alarm so that your Smart Phone will alert you with a silent buzz before your time runs out.
To use the app, though, you need a WiFi connection to your host PC or MAC. So if the venue you’re presenting in doesn’t have WiFi, the remote won’t work (meaning you can’t rely on this app as your only remote option). Therefore, you’ll want to make sure to have a Plan B.
Realize, too, that looking down at your screen can keep you from looking at your audience, so it will take some practice to get used to this sort of remote so you don’t sacrifice your delivery skills. Additionally, holding a bulkier tool like a phone instead of a more streamline remote unit will limit your use of gestures.
Still, for a one-time download fee of $9.99, this app could definitely come in handy when you’re getting ready for a presentation and realize you forgot to pack a remote.
If anyone has tried this app, I’d love to hear your feedback on how it worked for you.
The PowerPoint Revolution continues! Every few months another contender appears in the marketplace, attempting to poke a hole in the thick skin of the 800 lb slideware-gorilla that dominates meeting rooms across the globe. I don’t believe that there is anything inherently wrong with PowerPoint, but it has undoubtedly become the software program everyone loves to hate.
For instance, American-born statistician and Yale Professor Edward Tufte wrote a popular essay denouncing PowerPoint’s ability to provide quality analytics. The worth of PowerPoint as a diagnostics tool may be debatable, but the fact that slideware presentations almost always lack entertainment value is undeniable. If companies insist on creating PowerPoint presentations that lack creativity and bore audiences, then they’d better be ready for backlash.
Besides prominent voices like Professor Tufte, groups of presenters have taken it upon themselves to re-format their presentations into light, image driven and entertaining events called PowerPoint Karaoke and Pecha Kucha (pronounced “pe-chak-cha”). Could this be a big leap towards the demise of dense, mind-numbing, inaccessible slides?
Let’s take a look…..
PowerPoint Karaoke is a spin-off from traditional Karaoke; However, instead of singing songs, participants give a presentation about an unfamiliar topic with slides they’ve never seen—a random, impromptu PowerPoint presentation. Think charades with words. No rehearsal, no preparation. For those of you who like to wing it and let the creative juices flow, this activity is for you.
PowerPoint Karaoke is not only fun, but can be a great training tool for those looking to improve with improv and sharpen their rhetorical presentation skills. It is also a great team building activity or party game…with or without a glass of wine.
Pecha Kucha was created in 2003 by two Japan based architects who wanted to give architects, designers and other creative types a way to informally present their ideas in a more engaging, dynamic manner. Presenters speak for twenty seconds (the slides change automatically) using just 20 slides, a format called “20x20.” The total presentation time is 6 minutes and 40 seconds, so these presentations are concise to say the least.
The official Pecha Kucha website will tell you what it’s all about, provide videos of past presentations, locate upcoming events, and more. Also, here you will find a Pecha Kucha guide that will help you get started.
So what do you think? Is the dinosaur nearing extinction? And will the revolution be televised?
In part one of this two-part post, we talked about the seven sins of PowerPoint. If you missed it, you can read it here. So now that you know what not to do when preparing your slide deck, here are the seven virtues of what you should do to create informative, entertaining and memorable slides that will motivate your audience to action
During the last month I have seen some seriously challenged PowerPoint Slide decks. For a while there things were looking up in Silicon Valley; people were using more pictures, less text, more color, and congruent graphs. But I’ve recently noticed there are still pockets of stubborn “old school” PowerPoint users who simply refuse to change. I feel for their audiences who are craning their brains to stay tuned and awake.