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Occam’s Razor and Simplifying Presentation Content

The simplest explanation tends to be the correct one.

I’m sure it’s something you’ve heard before. It’s the phrase we know as Occam’s razor, a line of reasoning that guides scientists as they wade through questions and empirical data to arrive at a conclusion. Surprisingly, it’s something you can also apply to your presentation content.

Less is More

When your presentation involves a complex topic, how do you make sure your message is received properly? How can you guarantee that your audience can remember the details beneath the tables and line graphs? The answer depends on the two principles that formed the basis of Occam’s razor:

  • Principle of Plurality: “Plurality should not be posited without necessity”
  • Principle of Parsimony: “It’s pointless to do with more what is done with less”

Basically, your presentation content should follow the idea that “less is more.” When you’re presenting complex information, it’s better to keep your explanation brief and straight to the point. It’s your task to relay knowledge to your audience and a lot could get lost in between unnecessary details and complications. The fewer words it takes, the better.

Simplicity in Complex Details

Presentation content - Einstein quote
Wikimedia Commons

Albert Einstein is often credited for saying, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Before you begin working on your presentation, ask yourself how much of your subject matter do you truly understand.

In the business setting, presentations are mostly collaborative. It’s likely that the data you have was compiled by someone else. Take the time to review the materials and peruse every detail. If you can, reach out to other people who can help you. There’s no shame in asking questions that may seem obvious.

Simplifying your presentation content actually involves a lot more preparation. It takes no time to paste data from an Excel file, but it takes effort to discern which parts are the most important to your presentation’s goal. There’s no way to know what to exclude unless you understand every detail.

Analogies and Metaphors

Presentation content - baseball
Wikimedia Commons

We often use different analogies and metaphors to make sense of new information. Just think about the idiomatic expressions we use in everyday conversations. Why not do the same with your presentation content?

Consider how your subject matter relates to concrete objects or situations. After you’ve laid out the information, think of similarities it has with things your audience will be familiar with. For example, if you’re trying to explain how a certain software works, you can liken each step to the rules of baseball.

Another example was provided by Christopher Bingham and Steven Kahl. They wrote about how Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer operating system:

 “When users booted up their computer, the screen they stared into was called a desktop, with small icons labeled ‘trashcan’ and ‘files.’ It was really not a desktop in the physical sense, but Apple was helping people transition from what was familiar to them in the physical world to what was new in the digital world.”

Consider that analogies and metaphors usually involve symbolism and imagery. Give them more impact by complementing your presentation content with illustrations.

Consult with a professional PowerPoint designer. A presentation deck is a visual aid. Use it as another vehicle to explain and simplify your presentation content.

 

 

References

Bingham, Christopher B., and Steven J. Kahl. “How to Use Analogies to Introduce New Ideas.” MIT Sloan Management Review. 2013. Accessed July 31, 2014.
Clark, Josh. “How Occam’s Razor Works.” HowStuffWorks. Accessed July 31, 2014.
Determining the Goal of Your Presentation Is Hard.” Think Outside The Slide. September 18, 2012. Accessed July 31, 2014.

 

Featured Image: fdecomite via Flickr

PowerPoint Shortcuts: Quick and Easy Ways to Save Time

We all try to avoid it. No one likes to feel rushed when they’re working on something, especially if it’s a PowerPoint presentation. But sometimes, schedules are tight and presentation decks need to be rushed.

PowerPoint has always been great at allowing you to customize your presentations, but most of these tasks can be quite time-consuming. To solve that problem, we’ve compiled a few PowerPoint shortcuts to help you beat the clock.

PowerPoint Shortcut 1: Quick access toolbar

You’ll find the Quick Access Toolbar at the upper left side of your screen, right above the ribbon. Right now, you probably only have the icons for Save, Undo, and Redo there so add a few other commands.

Just click on the small drop-down arrow and choose More Commands. A dialogue box will appear where you can choose the commands you use the most.

powerpoint shortcuts - quick access toolbar customize

PowerPoint Shortcut 2: Mini toolbar

Thankfully, PowerPoint has already figured out which commands you’re most likely to use the most. If you want to be able to format text without dragging your mouse to the ribbon, you can simply use the mini toolbar. Select what you want to edit, right-click, and then the mini toolbar will appear nearby.

powerpoint shortcuts - mini toolbar

From the mini toolbar you can change fonts, including font color, increase or decrease indentation, send the text backward or forward, change alignment, paste text, and even add an outline and fill in shapes.

PowerPoint Shortcut 3: Right click

Similarly, right-clicking on objects can also give you quick access to certain commands. Right clicking directly on your slide also gives you the option to do several things like publish slides, adjust the ruler, add grids and guides, as well as change slide layout.

powerpoint shortcuts - right click

PowerPoint Shortcut 4: Keyboard shortcuts

I think the best way to save time when you’re working on the computer is to avoid the mouse altogether. Microsoft has a lot of keyboard shortcuts for PowerPoint that will become second nature once you’ve learned them. The most useful are the commands for cut, copy, and paste, considering you’re probably lifting a lot of stuff from other documents you have.

  • Cut: CTRL + X
  • Copy: CTRL + C
  • Paste: CTRL + V

You can also quickly save your work by hitting CTRL + S and launch your presentation with the F5 key. You can also hold down SHIFT while pressing enter to start typing on a blank line without a bullet point.

The Final Word

There are still a lot of PowerPoint shortcuts to learn, but these are the most basic way you can skip a bunch of repetitive clicking.

Keep working your way around PowerPoint to get yourself familiar with the program. The next time you’re pressed for time, you’ll be navigating through commands like a pro.

 

Featured Image: Alan Cleaver via Flickr

What You Can Learn from TV Shows about Presentation Structure

Like films, television shows are well-known narrative devices that plenty of people subscribe to. In a more formal setting, presentations also share the need to relay its own core message through corporate storytelling, which engages the listener emotionally and physically.

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There’s a lot you can learn about presentation structure just by observing how your favorite TV series play out. A great episode follows a focused structure that constantly keeps the audience engaged. There’s a logical sequence to how each event leads to the resolution of a specific conflict. While your presentations might not be in the same line as a procedural show, having a straightforward presentation structure is still good advice.

According to communications expert Nick Morgan, presentation structure may vary depending on the specifics of the message you’re delivering. However, it should always maintain a logical and orderly progression from one point to another. Your audience will feel lost otherwise.

Have you ever finished watching a TV episode that left you confused about what happened? That’s similar to how audiences feel when they walk out of a presentation that didn’t follow proper structure.

Try these three easy tips to make sure your presentation structure sends the message loud and clear:

1. Define your premise

presentation structure tv show houseMost episodes of the medical drama House start by showing how a patient is first attacked by a mysterious disease that the main characters will later have to diagnose. It is able to portray a sense of urgency that keeps viewers interested to see how the rest of the episode will play out.

The same thing should be said about your presentation structure. In order to create the same effect, you need to start by clearly defining the premise and parameters of your presentation. This helps your audience know what to expect from your presentation. But while “Good morning, today we’re going to discuss X and how it affects Y and Z” is definitely clear, it sounds too stiff and typical. Try to entice their interest by using more creative methods, like posing a rhetorical question or providing a shocking fact or statistic.

2. Create conflict with a satisfying resolution

presentation structure tv show law and orderThe long-running procedural Law & Order follows a very specific structure in its episodes. After the police discover a crime scene, detectives set out to solve the mystery behind it. Later on, usually during the second half of the episode, prosecutors take the case to court.

In every episode, the viewers hope to see justice prevail. The show takes them there through a progression of scenes that slowly reveal the truth about the crime that was committed.

In the same way, each part of your presentation should be arranged in a way that answers or resolves your main query.  All great stories need some sort of conflict to push the action forward. While your presentation won’t necessarily be about the battle between good and evil, it should be able to provide a solution to a specific problem. As you prepare your presentation, think about what you want your audience to remember. The main takeaway is the resolution of your presentation. The conflict is the current problem or issue that your main idea will address. Your presentation structure should take the audience from conflict to resolution in a progression of slides that offer details and information.

3. Leave them wanting more

presentation structure tv show house of cardsWhat compels you to watch episode after episode of House of Cards on Netflix? While a good episode can produce tension with an interesting point of conflict, it should also be able to urge viewers to ask, “What happens next?”

Similarly, you’ll know you’ve done your job as a presenter if you can move your audience into taking action. To do that, you need to end your presentation with as much strength as you started. End your presentation structure with a clear and specific call to action. It should leave your audience curious to learn more about the product you’re selling or the project you’re proposing. Think of it as your presentation’s cliff hanger. It’s the last statement you make to get your audience on your side.

Good ideas become great once they’re arranged in a logical and discernible sequence. Allow your message to stand out by following a straightforward presentation structure that your audience can easily follow.

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Featured Image: Chris Brown via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
All TV title cards from Wikimedia Commons

The Agenda Slide: A Short PowerPoint Design Lesson

Most business presentations start with an agenda slide, and it’s usually a bullet point list devoid of any design. If you want to capture and retain your audience’s attention, the agenda slide needs to be more than just a flimsy outline.

Discussing the agenda is an effective way to start presentations in a more corporate and formal setting. It’s your opportunity to frame your presentation in the right direction, and show your audience that the information you’re sharing is crucial. But a bullet point list doesn’t stand out. You need an agenda slide that has visual impact.

This is the agenda slide that you’re used to seeing:

agenda slide bad example

 

As you can see, nothing about this slide stands out. While the text is certainly minimal, there’s nothing else in the slide that we can consider eye-catching. It’s too bland, and it will definitely set the tone that your presentation is going to be a pretty dull affair.

The key to great PowerPoint design, whether it’s for the agenda or any other slide, is the use of interesting images. Visual has enormous effect on our ability to learn and retain information.

Here’s the same slide, enhanced with icons:

agenda slide enhanced

Now, you can tell that even simple illustrations make a difference. Each point has more impact because they’re illustrated by symbols that your audience is familiar with. I even added a bit more flair by adding animations. I chose to have each point of the agenda revealed bit by bit, so the audience won’t be tempted to read ahead from where I’m talking.

Try out these ideas for yourself, or check out our other PowerPoint design tips. However you choose to enhance your agenda slide, just make sure that your key points won’t get clouded by too much or too little design elements.

 

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo
All icons from The Noun Project
Note by Marek Polakovic
Rating by Icons8
Target by Juan Garces
15 minutes by Alexander Wiefel

Presentation Skills: Handling Questions with Grace and Authority

One of the presentation skills you’ll need to master is responding to questions effectively. Some presenters dread getting questions because they’re scared that someone will bring up a point they can’t address. Because of this apprehension, they may come across as defensive, unknowingly creating a communication barrier.

Your presentation skills will greatly improve if you accept that questions are an essential part of any form of communication. Individuals take in and process information differently. No matter how much preparation you put into your presentation, it’s perfectly natural that a few people would want some points clarified.

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Why it’s Important

It’s not because you were unclear or because your audience simply can’t understand where you’re coming from.

According to keynote speaker Anne Loehr, instances like perception gaps can skewer your presentation, and have an opportunity to correct that is actually good for you.

Don’t feel burdened by questions from your audience. Your presentation skills will greatly improve if you learn how to handle them with grace and authority. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Learn what questions to anticipate

As you prepare for your presentation, make a list of questions that you think people are going to ask. If you know your topic well and you’re familiar with your audience, you can easily tell the type of questions that could come up. Common inquiries revolve around “What comes next” and “What has to be done?”

If you’re pitching to investors or prospects, it’s also common to have your weaker points scrutinized. Try to address these concerns before they are brought up. Make sure your presentation provides sufficient data, strong examples, and concrete action plans.

2. Establish the rules

Most speakers are anxious about questions because it makes them feel like they’re losing control over their own presentations. That doesn’t have to be the case if you clearly establish how and when you’re going to take questions. Set a specific schedule and let your audience know about it in the beginning of your presentation.

3. Listen carefully and repeat what was said

Effective communication isn’t about talking all the time. Your presentation skills also rely on being able to listen carefully to your audience. When someone makes an inquiry, make sure you listen to it attentively and rephrase it to make sure you understand it well. Don’t automatically assume what the question is going to be about and jump to answer it. Clarify if you have to.

4. Give a concise answer

You’re already running on limited time as it is, so don’t waste any more by giving a long, complicated answer. Keep your answers brief and straight to the point. That way, you’ll have more time to clarify points that others might have.

You should also make sure that the answer you gave is what your audience is looking for by saying something like “Does that answer your question?” or “Hopefully that addresses your concerns.” If a question requires a more in-depth answer, offer to provide additional information through a follow-up email.

5. Be truthful and sincere

If someone asks you a difficult question, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have the answer. It’s better to be truthful and sincere than explaining half-baked ideas. Assure your audience that you’ll do additional research on that point and follow through on your promise. Take note of these questions and personally reach out to the audience members who brought them up once you’ve checked for the answer.

6. Don’t play the blame game

It’s important that you take responsibility for the information you present and avoid blaming errors on others. If someone brings up a point that counters what you presented, acknowledge it calmly and move on. Don’t shift the blame because you want to maintain authority. It will come across as unprofessional and your audience will more likely feel turned off by it.

7. Rephrase aggressive questions

Similarly, there might also be an instance where someone from the audience jeers you with an aggressive question. When this happens, don’t lose your composure by answering in a similar way. Instead, neutralize the question by rephrasing it.

Think of your presentations as a conversation. After you’ve addressed the audience, it’s their turn to ask questions or give their input. Make an effort to hear their side by encouraging them to ask questions.

Sharpen your presentation skills by responding to audience queries with grace and authority. You’ll find that having the opportunity to clarify some of your points is actually helpful in the long run.

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Featured Image: David Goehring via Flickr

PowerPoint Design Ideas: Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling is gaining more and more traction in social media platforms. Users these days are more inclined towards infographics, photos, and videos than purely text-based content, especially during the advent of social media and fast information.

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Brands are wise to take advantage of this trend in their marketing strategies. And you would be too, if you learn to apply visual storytelling in your PowerPoint design.

The importance of visual storytelling

Humans are highly visual creatures. We’re naturally attracted to beautiful colors and interesting patterns. In fact, our brain is able to process images 60,000 times faster than information presented in text. It’s also easier for us to retain visual information. According to Dr. John Medina, after three days, we’re able to recall 65% of information if it was presented with images or illustrations.

So if you’re presenting information that’s bulky with data, the audience will thank you if you can integrate comprehensible illustrations. Take the usual charts and graphs a step further by weaving stories through imagery.

Integrating visuals to enhance core message

There’s more to visual storytelling than sticking random pictures to your slides. Your statistics won’t make much sense if the visuals you add only serve an aesthetic purpose. Visual storytelling is about using different media that contribute to the message you’re presenting.

As an example, here’s a small part of an interactive infographic by Collaborative Fund, Hyperakt and Start Up American Partnership:

Visual storytelling - car sharing infographic

The infographic, which you can view in full here, showcases the positive effects of car sharing to the environment. It offers a lot of statistics that are perfectly illustrated to create more impact. It’s hard to imagine the difference a vague number makes but through this illustration, you can perfectly see how much carbon dioxide emissions have diminished.

Here’s another example, this time, from a Facebook post by Intel:

Visual storytelling by Intel-Facebook
Screen cap by Social Media Examiner

Intel showcases their brand identity while adding a bit of humor at the same time. For your PowerPoint design, make sure you choose pictures with interesting narratives. There’s always a rare gem in the sea of cheesy stock photos. Especially if you know where to look.

Your text-based, bullet point-ridden PowerPoint design isn’t helping anyone. It’s not engaging your audience, and it’s not helping you get your message across. Instead, you should consider taking inspiration from visual storytelling. Showcase and illustrate your key points with visual elements, and your PowerPoint design will have more impact.

If you need help, contact us to schedule a free consultation. Our professional PowerPoint designers will be happy to take your ideas and turn them into reality.

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Featured Image: Håkan Dahlström via Flickr

3 Questions Your Online Presentations Need to Answer

There are plenty of reasons you should include presentations in your content marketing strategy.

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Online presentations have the potential to become exactly the type of content users are gravitating towards today. If you re-purpose your slides properly, you can create a highly visual, dynamic, and engaging experience for a wider audience.

But there’s more to great online presentations than adding more visual elements and animations. Without a speaker to explain the finer points, your online presentations need to speak through the screen. Before you upload your deck to SlideShare, Brainshark, and other presentation sharing websites, make sure your online presentation can answer the following questions:

Are you addressing your target audience?

Online users spend about 10 to 20 seconds browsing through a web page. They practice the “screen and glean” method, skimming fast to make sure it has what they’re looking for. If they skip over your online presentation, it’s likely they’re not coming back to it again. You need to make an impression right then and there. How do you capture attention in a matter of seconds?

Make sure you’re clear on who you want to address. Fashion your headline and title slide in a way that lets your target audience know that you’re speaking to them. Avoid anything generic. Instead, lure viewers in with unique images and witty headlines.

There’s plenty of “Top Ten Tips” type of content out there, but few that are specifically meant for your clientele. According to startup guru Mark Evans, if you’re familiar with and have properly defined your target market, this part won’t be difficult at all.

Are you giving them what they’re looking for?

Getting users to view your online presentations is just the first step. You also have to maintain their interest until the very end. If your slides can’t answer their questions, they can easily click “X” and move on to another page. To make sure they don’t stray, you need to immediately establish that you have the answer they’re looking for.

Make sure the goal of your presentation is clearly defined before you delve into the main body. That way, your target audience knows that the presentation they’re viewing holds exactly what they’re looking for.

Are you clear on a Call to Action?

A Call to Action is important to any presentation, regardless of its medium of delivery. Your online presentations must have a proper CTA to let your target audience know what you want them to do next. By reaching the end of your presentation, you’ve successfully enticed and engaged their interest. Don’t let that impact go to waste without properly defining an action you want them to take.

Online presentations are an effective way to address your target audience. Make sure your slides can speak through the screen by following these tips.

You can also try turning your presentation deck into a scrolling web pitch to give it a more interactive dimension. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.

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Featured Image: Lali Masriera via Flickr

Presentation Storyboarding: How to Create Solid Content

Walt Dinsey-inspiration for presentation storyboarding
Walt Disney refers to storyboards during a meeting. (Image from Keys to the Kingdom)

As we mentioned previously, the secret to great content is storytelling. Once you’ve identified the story behind your core message, you can move on to the next step: Presentation Storyboarding.

We’re taking a cue from one of the greatest storytellers in history. In his own article on storyboarding, presentation expert Garr Reynolds cites Walt Disney as someone who perfected the art of storyboarding to create and pitch some of our most beloved stories.

The quirky and funny adventures of Mickey Mouse all started as pieces of paper with rough drawings posted on a wall.

In filmmaking, storyboards are an essential step before movies go into production. Similarly, you can’t begin to build your presentation deck or practice your delivery if you haven’t properly organized your ideas into a comprehensive and structured narrative.

Through storyboards, you can easily visualize your presentation and draft how you want your PowerPoint slides to look. It also allows you to see your presentation as a whole, allowing you to see unnecessary details you can trim out.

Before you begin your presentation storyboard, you need to have a basic idea of where you want your presentation to go. The very first step is to create a working outline and try to identify your main points. Once you have it, you can begin with the storyboarding process.

Here’s the rest of what you need to know about presentation storyboarding:

1. Bring out your post-its

You don’t need fancy tools to create a presentation storyboard. All you need is a pen and a few sheets of paper. The idea is to draft each of your points into a piece of paper and tape them to a wall. In technical terms, each piece of paper is called a panel. If you remember your presentation design lessons, it’s important to limit yourself to one concept per slide.

While you don’t have to stick your storyboard on a wall, we still suggest you do it. It’s a great way to see how your presentation is progressing. And if you’re not happy with something, you can easily move some parts around. You’ll save a lot of time if you use post-its.

2. Don’t hold back

Create as much storyboard panels as you think you need. In this initial stage, you can easily cut out the things you’re not happy with. If you’re collaborating with someone else, presentation storyboarding is also a great way to help you work out each other’s ideas.

3. Keep your core message in mind

While you shouldn’t stop your ideas from flowing freely at this point, it’s also important to keep in mind the core message that you want to share. This is why creating an outline before you start storyboarding. It’s a guide to help you maintain focus on the story your presentation is trying to tell.

The important thing to remember during the presentation storyboarding process is to keep an open mind. Let your creativity flow naturally. Let your collaborates comment on your ideas, and bounce off from theirs. It’s all about swimming through different concepts to find the ones that tell your core message best.

If you need more information about creating custom storyboards for your big presentation, we’ll be happy to help. Contact us for a consultation and we can make solid content for your presentations.

 

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo 

Sales Presentation Follow-Up: Keeping the Momentum Alive

You finished your sales presentation to a warm round of applause. After addressing a few questions, your prospects seem pleased. Your sales presentation was a success, but you’ll be wrong to assume that this is where the hard work ends. You still have one more thing to do to ensure that action happens and deals are sealed: the follow-up.

Despite the positive response, you can’t assume that your prospects will immediately act on your presentation. The people in your audience, especially the key decision makers, lead busy lives. Even if they were initially impressed by your sales presentation, other priorities might end up pulling them away. Without a follow-up, the proverbial pendulum stops swinging. Your presentation loses the momentum it initially gained.

Why Following Up is Important

In his book “Brain Rules,” Dr. John Medina points out that people remember information better if they’re re-exposed to it. A strong follow-up contains more than just a simple thank you note. It should re-expose your prospects to your key points and end goal. To make sure your sales presentation gets the best results, you have to include your follow-up plans as part of your preparation.

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These are just some techniques you can consider:

1. Express your gratitude

While a follow-up is more than just a quick thank you, it’s important that you express your gratitude to those who took the time to listen to your sales presentation. If you were able to do a bit of networking, integrate the points you discussed during your brief conversations. It’s important to make your letter feel personal.

Take note of the things you talked about with different people, even if most of it was just small talk.

2. Expound on questions and offer additional resources

To make sure that your follow-up says more than just a few pleasantries, use your message as an opportunity to expound on the questions you answered during the presentation. Ask a member of your team to take note of details during the Q&A, so you won’t have to worry about memorizing who said what.

Relay the questions you were asked, your answers, and expound on the points you had to cut out due to time restraints. If you have additional resources that you can share, include them in your message.

This will demonstrate a positive impression to your prospects. It shows that you’re not only focused on your own concerns, but you’re also willing to dialogue based on the comments they brought up.

3. Link to a scrolling web pitch

Visuals are important to making an impact on an audience, so include your PowerPoint deck in your follow-up. Your deck was strategically designed to make sure your prospects retain information better, and it won’t hurt if they get to see it again. But attaching your PowerPoint deck to an email and asking them to download it might a bit too cumbersome.

Try a scrolling web pitch instead. Schedule a free consultation and we can help you convert your slides into an interactive web experience.

4. End with another Call to Action

Your follow-up is a great way to reiterate your message, so don’t end it without a strong CTA. Don’t recycle the same CTA you used for your presentation, but you can tailor it to fit the flow of the message you composed. You can say something like “We very much look forward to working with you on this project, we will achieve the results that we discussed and presented, and we ask you to give us the opportunity to be part of your team.

Start making follow-ups a few days after your sales presentation. Definitely, you shouldn’t pester your prospects by following up constantly every single day. Wait for a response after your initial contact. If you don’t receive it, try again after a couple of days. This is where it can get a bit tricky. You can’t wait too long nor can you make constant contact.

Conclusion

Despite the success of your sales presentation, you should never assume that your prospects will immediately take action.

Your presentation is only one side of the conversation, and they still need to time to ponder on your message and make up their minds. Make sure your message doesn’t get cold and follow-up as soon as you can.

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Reference

How to Say Thank You After Your Big Sales Presentation.” The Sales Blog. 2010. Accessed July 25, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Evonne via Flickr

Presentation Preparation: What to Do Before Taking the Podium

How much time do you spend on presentation preparation? One week? Two days? A few hours? It’s not the length of time that actually matters, but how much preparation you do. The real secret to a great presentation is sufficient preparation. It’s the one thing all skilled presenters do. They don’t just take the podium thinking they can “wing it”.

If you feel like you’ve been giving presentations that are subpar, it’s probably because you don’t prepare enough. If you want to engage your audience and leave them with a memorable message, you need to some heavy lifting.

Here’s a list of things you need to cover in your presentation preparation:

1. Establish your goal

Before you even think of doing anything else, ask yourself what the end goal of your presentation is. What do you want to achieve through this presentation? What’s the one thing you want your audience to take from it?

Answering these questions will give you an idea which direction to take your presentation.

2. Know your audience

The members of your audience are key players in your presentation. They’re the ones you need to convince and impress. You need to be able to engage them to action. How are you going to do that if you’re totally clueless about who they are?

You need to know where your audience is coming from to know how to create a connection with them. To do that, learn as much information as you can about their backgrounds, and what that could possibly say about their knowledge on the topic you’re going to be speaking about.

Similarly, try to research as much information about the event or conference you’re participating in. Is it an industry event where you can speak in more technical terms? Or is it a seminar for aspiring leaders where you need to inspire and motivate?

3. Draft and outline your ideas

With an established goal and enough knowledge on the context of your presentation, you’ll find yourself forming more and more ideas. Draft all your ideas on a sheet of paper and start making a rough outline of your presentation. It’s best to keep this part analog, as explained by presentation expert Garr Reynolds.

It’s best to let your ideas flow on paper. Just keep on writing and stop only until you’ve ran out of things to write. Don’t edit out anything yet. When you’re done, review what you’ve written and figure out the key points you want to make. If you have to, re-arrange your points to create a clearer and more logical flow.

4. Work on your content

As we’ve pointed out time and again, strong content is crucial to your presentation. It’s not enough to present your ideas through a series of bullet points. You need to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

As you work on writing your presentation content, keep in mind the core message you want your audience to take home. Go back to the goal you’ve established and make sure that it’s clear in everything point you make. Don’t make the mistake of overwhelming your audience with too much information. As the presenter, you have to be able to discern which of the data is the most important to your overall message.

5. Design an effective PowerPoint deck

According to Dr. John Medina, vision trumps all other senses. A majority of people will find it easier to retain information if it’s presented with images. If you want to engage your audience, give them a presentation that’s highly visual. Create a PowerPoint deck that will emphasize your key points by effective use of design principles.

The general rule for PowerPoint design is to keep things simple by using minimal text coupled with high-quality illustrations or images. Another thing to remember is that you have to keep your design cohesive with the story you’re presenting. If you’re representing a business, make sure your brand is evident in the slides.

If you want to make sure that your PowerPoint design reflects the best of your story, professional PowerPoint services could be a worthy investment.

6. Plan what you’re going to wear

It might not be the most comfortable fact, but looks really do matter. Especially if you’re the one expected to face a large group of people. As the presenter, you have to look polished and professional. The audience will need to see that you’re someone they can rely on for information. Dressing sloppily will make you lose the authority you want to achieve.

Specific dress codes will depend on the event you’re presenting at, so remember to take note of that information during the initial parts of presentation preparation. The best way to gauge what’s appropriate to wear is by considering your audience. For example, you have to dress slightly better than the audience to stand out, but don’t appear too flashy to avoid being criticized.

7. Practice your presentation

Last but not least, you have to rehearse your presentation. You might feel silly doing it, but practicing will help familiarize you with every aspect of your presentation. Review your speech as much as you can and think about how you’d like to move on the stage. You should also rehearse how you plan to incorporate your PowerPoint deck into the presentation. Unexpected interruptions and distractions will less likely phase you if you’re familiar with your materials.

Conclusion

Presentation preparation is crucial to building a message that will make an impact on your audience. There’s no other way to go about it. The main goal of any presentation is to share knowledge and information. In order to do that, you can’t skip any steps.

The main goal of any presentation is to share knowledge and information. In order to do that, you can’t skip any steps.

 

References

Organization & Preparation Tips.” Garr Reynolds Official Site. Accessed July 25, 2014.
Vision.” Brain Rules. Accessed July 25, 2014.

 

Featured Image: kkirugi via Flickr